South Cook News

South Cook News

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

South Suburban homeowners suffocated by property taxes

Real Estate

By LocalLabs News Service | Feb 13, 2017

Last June, Charlene M. Ward paid $9,000 for an 850 square foot townhome at 13642 S. Parnell Street in Pacesetter Gardens, a 1960’s-era development on the northwest side of Riverdale.

She paid the top of the Pacesetter Gardens market, which has 426 virtually identical row-type units. Ten have sold there since April 2014, including Ward’s, with an average price of just $5,075.

If it still feels like a deal, there’s a catch: Ward’s property tax bill is $2,381-- an effective tax rate of 26 percent.

Assuming a thirty year mortgage and twenty percent down payment, her monthly mortgage would be $232-- approximately $34 for principal and interest and $198 for property taxes.

Over the past ten years, the various owners of 13642 S. Parnell have paid $26,244 in property taxes-- nearly three times what the property is worth.

It actually could be worse.

A few blocks away at 546 W. 136th Street, Shirley Carter paid $2,825 in property taxes last year before selling her home for $7,500, an effective tax rate of 38 percent.

Her neighbor, JoAnn Martin, paid $771 in property taxes on 514 W. 136th Street, which sold last May for $2,150, a 36 percent effective tax rate. Over the past decade, its owners have paid $12,927 in taxes on the home-- more than six times what it is worth.

In Riverdale and Chicago’s fifty-one southern Cook County suburbs, Pacesetter Gardens is no aberration. It’s the norm.

An analysis by Local Government Information Services (LGIS) has found homeowners in this swathe of Chicagoland drowning in property taxes, paying bills so high they are beyond logical comprehension.

“Town & Country” in Riverdale

Back in 1961, duplex units at Pacesetter Gardens advertised a “town and country location” just 23 minutes from the Loop. The community had a “Cabana Club” complete with a recreation center, a “big, L-shaped outdoor swimming pool,” a snack bar and a bath house.

The units started at $19,000-- $150,613 in 2015 dollars.

By 2015, the median home price in Riverdale was just $51,800, a third of what it was 54 years ago and down 62 percent from 2007 ($137,172 inflation-adjusted).

The community’s effective property tax rate (ETR) in 2015, according to a study by the Chicago Tribune, was 7.61 percent, for a median bill of $3,942, second-worst of fifty south suburbs studied by LGIS.

Ford Heights (10.48 percent) is the only community that fared worse. And a closer look at the data suggests even that rate is optimistic. Its median sale price in 2016 was just $33,500, including its two most recent sales of $5,000 ($2,049 property tax bill/41 percent ETR) and $13,000 ($2,767/21 percent).

Analyzing median home price changes from 2007 to 2015 across 231 communities in suburban Cook and Chicago's Collar Counties, nine of the ten worst housing markets were in the south suburbs.

Riverdale (-62.2 percent), Harvey (-59.4 percent), Phoenix (-59.1 percent), Crestwood (-58.7 percent), Markham, (-58.5 percent), Robbins (-58.1 percent), Calumet City (-57.1 percent), Dixmoor (-56.7 percent), Sauk Village (-54.8 percent), Posen (51.5 percent), Hometown (-51.4 percent) and South Chicago Heights (-51.2 percent) all saw their home values cut by half or more.

Palos Park (-32 percent), with a median sale price of $348,000 in 2015, versus $512,109 in 2007, fared the best. And it wasn’t good.

Today, it sits in a rarefied air in south Cook County, the only suburb with a median sale price greater than $300,000. Two more-- nearby Palos Heights ($231,000) and Flossmoor ($210,000) have median sale prices greater than $200,000.

A total of 22 of 51 south Cook County suburbs now have median sale prices of less than $100,000; zero did in 2007.

School districts piling on

In Flossmoor, once once of the wealthiest suburbs in all of Chicagoland, median home prices have fallen 35 percent since 2007.

But spending at Flossmoor School District 161 has risen over the same period, to $23.1 million from $22.6 million, adjusted for inflation, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. Homewood-Flossmoor High School recently completed a $26 million renovation, adding a new 100,000 square foot field house.

Matteson School District 162, which also serves Park Forest, Olympia Fields and Richton Park, has hiked spending 20 percent since 2007, from $20.9 million to $25.1 million.

Rich Township High School District 227 raised spending three percent from 2007 to 2015. That's while operating three high schools at less than half of their capacity, and as student enrollment in the district has fallen steadily-- more than 17 percent in the last four years alone.

During the same period, home prices in all the communities paying the bill also fell-- in Matteson (-40.0 percent), Olympia Fields (-39.1 percent), Park Forest (-48.3 percent) and Richton Park (-41.5 percent).

It makes a real estate market with listings bordering on absurd, like the 3,850 square-foot four bedroom at 3843 Rita Drive in Richton Park that just went on the market for $218,900.

Its property tax bill: $14,796. The buyer will pay $846 per month in principal and interest-- and $1,233 in property taxes.

What’s left to tax?

The upshot of ever-higher local government spending and significantly lower home prices is higher and higher taxes-- and uncharted territory for homeowners.

LGIS projected what home prices in 51 south suburbs would be if the next eight years are like the last eight years, and home prices fall at the same rate.

Over the sixteen year period of 2007 to 2023, homeowners in five communities would have paid for their home’s full value in property taxes more than twice over.

In Riverdale (282 percent), homeowners would have paid for their homes nearly three times-- $63,072 in property taxes on a home worth just $22,360.

In Flossmoor (106 percent), the owner of a $150,000 home will have paid $166,000 in property taxes.

In 35 communities, homeowners will have paid more than 100 percent of their home’s value in property taxes.

All but eleven communities would have median home prices under $100,000; 14 would be below $50,000.

South Cook County, Median Sale Prices 2007 to 2015

 Community Jan. 2007 Median Jan 2015 Median % CHG
Riverdale$137,172$51,800 -62.2%
Harvey$122,312$49,600  -59.4%
Phoenix  $112,710$46,100 -59.1%
Crestwood$200,043$82,600 -58.7%
Markham$112,252$46,600 -58.5%
Robbins $129,170$45,100 -58.1%
Calumet City $153,175$65,700 -57.1%
Dixmoor $108,023$46,800 -56.7%
Sauk Village $132,714$60,000 -54.8%
Posen $173,751$84,300 -51.5%
Hometown $180,610$87,800 -51.4%
So. Chicago Hts. $197,756$96,600 -51.2%
Burnham$160,034$81,100 -49.3%
Blue Island $181,753 $92,900  -48.9%
Park Forest$144,033 $74,500  -48.3%
Dolton$162,320 $85,200  -47.5%
Summit $268,629 $141,000  -47.5%
Calumet Park $156,605 $82,500  -47.3%
Stickney$267,485 $141,000 -47.3%
Chicago Ridge $217,189 $117,000  -46.1%
Hazel Crest $169,179 $92,800  -45.1%
Merrionette Park $196,613 $108,000  -45.1%
Burbank $285,775 $158,000 -44.7%
Lynwood $294,194 $134,000  -44.4% 
Bridgeview $280,060 $156,000  -44.3%
Lansing $177,181 $98,800  -44.2%
Chicago Hts. $155,462 $86,900  -44.1%
Justice $291,491 $163,000  -44.1%
Thornton $157,748 $89,800  -43.1%
Glenwood $195,470 $112,000  -42.7%
Steger$155,462 $89,700  -42.3%
Worth$248,053 $144,000  -41.9%
Alsip $245,767 $143,000  -41.8%
Richton Park$200,043 $117,000  -41.5%
Hickory Hills $320,068 $190,000  -40.6%
Palos Hills $252,625 $151,000  -40.2%
Matteson $236,622 $142,000  -40.0%
Country Club Hills $186,325 $112,000  -39.9%
Midlothian $210,330 $127,000  -39.6%
Homewood $218,332 $132,000  -39.5% 
Olympia Fields$320,218 $195,000  -39.1%
East Hazel Crest $164,606 $101,000  -38.6%
Palos Heights $376,080 $231,000  -38.6%
Oak Lawn $261,770 $161,000  -38.5%
South Holland $212,617 $131,000  -38.4%
Oak Forest $262,913 $166,000  -36.9% 
Evergreen Park $246,910 $156,000  -36.8%
Orland Hills $297,206 $190,000  -36.1%
Flossmoor $322,360 $210,000  -34.9%
Ford Heights $136,029 $90,500  -33.5%
Palos Park $512,109 $348,000  -32.0%


South Cook County, Median Sale Prices Projected, 2015 to 2023

 Community 2023 Median (Proj.) 2007-2023 Taxes PaidTaxes % of Median
Calumet City$32,213 $74,635 231.7% 
Phoenix $21,554$48,387224.5%
Ford Heights$68,826$151,750220.5%
Park Forest$44,050$87,970199.7%
Chicago Hts.$55,527$98,718177.8%
Hazel Crest$58,188$87,009149.5%
Country Club Hills$76,957$113,434147.4%
Sauk Village$21,008$45,120145.5%
Calumet Park$49,681$68,376137.6%
So. Chicago Hts.$53,940$66,461123.2%
East Hazel Crest$70,840$85,971121.4%
Blue Island$54,279$64,807119.4%
South Holland$92,263$106,686115.6%
Richton Park$78,223$87,422111.8%
Evergreen Park$112,667$123,552109.7%
Olympia Fields$135,740$143,520105.7%
Chicago Ridge$72,047$71,69899.5%
Midlothian $87,658$82,70294.3%
Oak Forest$119,809$109,42791.3%
Merrionette Park$67,814$58,75286.6%
Oak Lawn$113,192$92,99482.2%
Hickory Hills$128,929$96,97675.2%
Palos Heights$162,191$111,25068.6%
Palos Hills$103,172$64,50762.5%
Orland Hills$138,846$68,40049.3%
Palos Park $270,321$126,95047.0%


Want to get notified whenever we write about any of these organizations ?

Sign-up Next time we write about any of these organizations, we'll email you a link to the story. You may edit your settings or unsubscribe at any time.

Organizations in this Story

City of Harvey City of Hometown City of Palos Hills Cook County Flossmoor School District 161 Rich Township High School District 227 Village of Dixmoor Village of Dolton Village of Flossmoor Village of Homewood Village of Olympia Fields Village of Palos Park Village of Riverdale

More News