More Pittsburgh vs. Phoenix

The Census Bureau has it's press release on the differences between Phoenix and Pittsburgh, with Tampa thrown in for good measure. Few socioeconomic metrics differ by an order of magnitude between regions in the US. When it comes to what makes Pittsburgh unique, I think we can trace every single argument over the good, the bad and everything in between to these two census derived stats:

Percentage of occupied housing units built in 1939 or earlier:
Pittsburgh - 29.7%
Phoenix - 1.5%

Percentage of homeowners that have lived in their current housing unit since 1969 or earlier:
Pittsburgh - 26.9%
Phoenix - 4.5%

Is this really the Pittsburgh theory of everything? Discuss.


10 Responses to "More Pittsburgh vs. Phoenix"

Mark Rauterkus said... 1/28/2009 8:06 AM

What is the deed transfer tax rate in Pittsburgh (city is more than burbs) vs. Phoenix?

So, if you buy a $100,000 home, how much is paid in fees and taxes, upfront. Those fees/taxes deliver no value to the homeowners. It amounts to a penalty to transactions. And, it comes off the nest-egg for a downpayment.

So, if you've saved $10,000 for a house, and you need to shell out $8,000 of that for taxes, just for the opportunity to own the house, then the downpayment / equity contribution is hardly even equal to the first months mortgage.

That's the why behind those stats.

Would love to know if there is such a thing as a deed transfer tax in Arizona.

I say it is no wonder folks stay in their homes.

Shell out $10,000 or more three or four times in the prime of your life -- and you've paid for your kids to get a college education.

Mark Rauterkus said... 1/28/2009 11:09 AM

After a pointer, I've come to discover that the AZ Deed Transfer Tax is $2.00 per deed. - quick answer - $2 per deed

Schultz said... 1/28/2009 12:39 PM

I will be in PHX the weekend after the Super Bowl and will report on their new light rail line as well as how the Phoenicians are coping with their loss the Steelers, although they will probably not give a damn about losing a football game when it is 75 degrees and sunny.

RoboticGhost said... 1/28/2009 2:23 PM

"After a pointer, I've come to discover that the AZ Deed Transfer Tax is $2.00 per deed. "

Watch what happens to that rate as the growth rate in Phoenix reverses. They are already talking about cutting school budgets in the State Senate to close some gaps. Property tax revenues are getting walloped too as housing values have dropped 40% with a ways yet to go. I suspect they are going to have quite a few gaps to fill in the coming years. The "Borrow money from the Chinese to build and sell each other houses" economy is over. Phoenix is going to continue to have a rough, rough time of it for years to come.

Mark Rauterkus said... 1/28/2009 4:24 PM

If Pittsburgh, city, or else Allegheny County, went to a $2 per deed transfer rate and shift back to a land value tax -- then we'd see the same type of growth that they (AZ) enjoys.

The ills of the future of AZ are not the point. The ills of Pgh present is the point. They can be fixed.

MH said... 1/28/2009 8:54 PM

"They can be fixed."

How about "They can be ameliorated, if we get lucky?" Or, "We can improve things at the margins." I'm not against the land value tax, but I don't see how it could possibly help that much. Unless you manage to reduce the overall cost of government, the land tax would have to be high enough that big swaths of the city would just be abandoned, not improved.

Mark Rauterkus said... 1/29/2009 12:50 AM

You seemingly got it wrong.

With a land tax, the incentive is to IMPROVE the land. As it is now, the improvements INCREASE taxes.

Brown fields were able to sit idle. Surface parking lots are able to come.

Once we tax the land (again), idle property is going to be sold off. It isn't able to be sat upon by land speculators.

The land-tax policies of the past gave Pittsburgh its density in downtown. That's a blessing. But, it is gone now.

MH said... 1/29/2009 10:53 AM

Assuming the city/schools/county have to take in the same amount from land-taxes as they now do from property taxes, the land tax rate will have to be much larger than the current 3% property tax, thus resulting in increased taxes on idle properties while lowering them for a heavily built-up property. I can see how this would be an incentive to improve the property (or sell it to someone who can). But this only works if there is a use for that land that can earn enough income to pay the higher tax and the cost of improvements. That's where my doubts come in. Otherwise, a land-tax is just going to lead to more abandoned property.

Mark Rauterkus said... 1/29/2009 1:25 PM

On the flip side, the taxes are high. And, when you invest more into a property -- the taxes get even higher. That is a way to squash additional investments.

A move to a land-value tax is a move to a city/county wide TIF. But rather than just going to the well connected and making everyone else pay -- the Land-Tax is justice for all.

RoboticGhost said... 2/03/2009 2:12 PM

Looky: Pittsburgh and Phoenix on Yglesias.

(URL cont.)pittsburgh_phoenix.php

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