allegheny county real estate

Tips for Moving from Pittsburgh to Another State When Using a Moving Company

Whether you are a Pittsburgh native, or have only lived in this Pennsylvania city for a few years, you are probably somewhat familiar with your area. But what if you want to move to a new city in another state? You probably already know the basics: You should use a moving company for best results; you should make sure the company is reputable, and you should try to secure employment and finalize housing in advance of your move. However, there are other steps involved in moving from Pittsburgh to another city that even the most prepared person might overlook.

Book your move well ahead of time, and research the moving company diligently

You should schedule your move with a reputable moving company well before the day you’ll leave Pittsburgh. 6 weeks in advance is ideal; and some people opt to book even further in advance. Reserving a date far enough in advance ensures that you will have a truck to accommodate your belongings and a team of movers who will be able to help you pack and haul.

Before selecting a moving company, you should research the mover’s reputation. Some questions to ask include:

Will this Pittsburgh moving company give me a quote over the phone, or come to my house and make an estimate?
Does the moving company have its own staff, or does it use subcontracted labor?
Does the moving company include packing in the cost of the quote, or will I have to pack my belongings myself?
Will all of my items stay in the same moving van as it crosses state lines, or are multiple item transfers involved?
Is there an agent in my new city who will assist me in my re-location from Pittsburgh?

Here’s why it’s important to ask these questions: If you do not specify your requirements, give the movers enough details, or check the company’s reputation, you are less likely to get the quality moving service you desire.

Moving companies who provide telephone or Internet estimates cannot realistically gage how much furniture and how many possessions you own. The best way to receive a correct price quote is to let the mover make an appointment to evaluate your house so he or she can learn what your move out of Pittsburgh will entail. This ensures the most accurate price quote possible.

Some Pittsburgh moving companies use subcontracted labor. Often, this labor consists of temporary employees, some of whom might have little or no prior moving experience. Conversely, moving companies that use their own staff have invested the time and resources to recruit, screen, and train staff. Your move is more likely to be handled by professional, trained, and experienced movers if you select a company that hires its own staff and keeps them on year-round.

Professional movers have been trained to pack boxes, lift furniture, and stack items in moving vans. There are specific physical and mental skills involved in each of these tasks – in short, moving is an art. If you must pack some of your own items, especially large or unwieldy ones, you risk damaging them, losing them, or injuring yourself. Professional movers should also have the skills necessary to prepare your old and new homes for the move so floors, walls, and railings are not damaged. When choosing a mover, you must decide whether damage to your property or possessions is something you want to chance – and of course, you must make sure packing is included in the moving price quote if you prefer to leave that task to trained professionals.

It’s important to know whether your items will stay in the same van as it crosses state lines, or whether your move will involve multiple transfers. Each time your belongings are handled or jostled, the risk of damage and loss increases. To reduce risk, ensure you are selecting a moving company that uses just one van or truck throughout the move.

Finally, when you do arrive in your new city, you will need a resource to help you finalize the moving process; to assist you with your re-location queries, and to help you with customer service questions and concerns. Many Pittsburgh moving companies do not have representatives in cities outside of the Allegheny County area. Inquire about out-of-state moving representatives when you are selecting your mover.

Selecting a reputable, experienced, diligent moving company can transform the difficult process of re-locating from Pittsburgh into a smooth and pleasant experience.

Assaults on Teachers on Rise in Allegheny County – Pittsburgh Schools Still Fairing Well With Plans

A recent review indicates that assaults on teachers by students while on the job are on the rise in Allegheny County, which includes the Pittsburgh schools. Though the student population is declining within the county, there were 179 assaults on teachers last year, according to the Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Department. This is the highest in history for the county, with a total of 621 cases from 2002 through 2006.

The Pittsburgh schools have three open teacher claims for worker’s compensation, related to assaults by students. One claim is from a 1997 injury, where a student threw an object and struck a teacher in the neck. Another claim from 2005 resulted from a Pittsburgh schools’ teacher-student confrontation on a staircase. The Pittsburgh schools’ teacher incurred back and shoulder injuries by grabbing the staircase rail to prevent falling down the stairs. The third claim occurred in 2006, when a teacher tried to break up a student fight and incurred a neck injury.

The review showed that most assaults are shoving, elbowing hard enough to throw the teacher off balance, punching and hitting, slapping in the face, spitting, and biting hard enough to require a tetanus shot and Hepatitis B and C testing. Though these may seem like minor injuries, some have led to substantial medical bills and lost wages. According to Jim Rieland, director of Allegheny County juvenile probation, most assaults occur in the classrooms, cafeterias and hallways. Objects, such as loaded book bags, are more of the problem than guns or knives in these incidents.

In the Pittsburgh schools, most teachers are members of the Pittsburgh Federator of Teachers (the Pittsburgh schools’ teachers’ union). If union members are assaulted on the job, they are entitled to 20 extra days of sick leave for that year to take care of student-assault-related injuries. Pittsburgh schools’ teachers must, however, meet stringent rules from the Pittsburgh schools district. To qualify for the extra sick leave, Pittsburgh schools’ teachers must:

o Be members of the union,

o Use their own sick days for the first three days,

o File a police report against the student,

o Have a doctor’s excuse for time off work, and

o Get the Pittsburgh schools’ administrator’s agreement that an assault occurred.

According to John Tarka, union president, the union and the Pittsburgh schools have reached a tentative agreement to create a new alternative school, using the current Clayton School. It would be privately run, taking 432 of the “most persistently disruptive students” from grades six through 12. This would remove these troubled Pittsburgh schools’ students from the mainstream schools, allowing Pittsburgh schools’ teachers to be confident of a safe work environment.

Patricia Hawke is an expert researcher and writer on real estate topics such as economics, credit improvement tips, home selling advice and home buying preparations and education for relocating families. For more information please Pittsburgh Schools

Property Tax Assessment Law

Each year, property taxes in the U.S. rise more and more, but over the last few years the resale value of homes and commercial property has dropped significantly. With the ever increasing amounts owed in real estate taxes, it is no surprise most people are looking for a way to lessen their tax burden.

When a property tax assessment is implemented, the goal is to determine the market value of the property for taxation purposes. The assessor will look at the property and the exterior of any buildings on the property to assist in determining the value of your property. This system is inherently flawed, especially in places like Allegheny County (Pennsylvania), where the assessments are only done once every three years. As we have all seen, many things can change in the housing market in three years time, resulting in inflated values assigned to your real estate. When inflated values are assigned to your home, the amount of property taxes you owe is higher than it should be.

Fortunately, there is an appeals process that is in place for each county to provide you with the chance to argue the assessed value of your property. Through the assessment appeals process, you may be able to have the assessment adjusted, if you can provide enough evidence to show that your residential or commercial real estate is worth less in the market than the amount assigned shows.

To accomplish this, you will need to be able to show a current appraisal, documentation of what other comparable homes in your area have sold for, or other evidence that proves the value listed on your assessment is inflated or otherwise incorrect.

Most counties have property tax exemptions that can lower your tax bill. Allegheny County, for example, has a Homestead exclusion, a Homeowner Tax Relief Act and a Senior Citizen Property Tax Relief Program that can provide significant savings on your residential property taxes each year.

After you have received your property tax assessment, you will have a set amount of time to appeal the assessment. In most counties, the deadline will be in February or March. In Allegheny County, you must submit your assessment appeal form by February 10th for the City of Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver.

When appealing the property tax assessment of a commercial, industrial or residential property, the details are instrumental in winning the appeal. Many people think that they can appeal without the help of a lawyer, only to be disappointed. An experienced attorney will be able to show that the fair market value is lower than the assessment based on the property features, selling prices of similar properties and the best use of the property in question.

An experienced Pennsylvania real estate tax attorney [] will diligently research and leave no stone unturned in gathering evidence to show that the fair market value assigned to your home during the assessment is accurate.

Attorney Blaine Jones has extensive experience in helping homeowners receive a fair market value on their property assessment appeal, and is ready to help you save money and protect the long-term value of your home.

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Needs More Affordable Housing

A community forum was held last summer in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, during which the main topic was affordable housing. Cranberry is facing many of the same challenges as other cities in the United States – the need for low- and middle-income housing far outnumbers availability. Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania executive director Elizabeth Hersh told forum attendees that a lot more affordable housing units are needed in Allegheny County as a whole, where Cranberry is located. She also offered some creative solutions for getting them.

Ms. Hersh’s main solution was renovation of existing structures. She estimates that nearly 45 percent of Pennsylvania’s apartment units were built prior to 1950. While most have been maintained fairly well, they still need general updating. Since they need to be updated anyway, she proposed, why not renovate them into affordable housing at the same time?

Ms. Hersh estimates the county needs about 21,000 more affordable housing units than it currently has, which could spell big business for developers that are willing to offer creative, viable projects.

Ms. Hersh also estimates that, while there are several corporate-owned apartment complexes across the state, about 60 percent of apartment building owners are ordinary people, and most privately-owned buildings have four units or less. She suggests that state and federal officials find creative ways to work with apartment owners who are not only willing to renovate, but are willing to do some of the work themselves.

An action plan for affordable housing development is schedule to be released in November, and will include ideas gathered from several similar community forums.