Thursday, January 28, 2010

Realtors: Mt. Lebanon High School Project A Turnoff

Real estate agents in Mt. Lebanon are warning that the projected cost of the high school renovation could mar the community's attractiveness to residents and home-buyers.

"Not only do we fear people moving out, but also we're afraid of people not coming into Mt. Lebanon," said David Bruckner, manager of the local Coldwell Banker office.

Bruckner said he will lead a group of eight to 12 Coldwell agents who plan to air their concerns at a public hearing Feb. 22.

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Anonymous David Huston said...

Who said this?

"Ask yourself if you really think those tax increases are going to attract young families to Mt Lebanon."

January 28, 2010 9:11 AM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

Uh-oh. Hell hath no fury like a Lebo agent scorned . . .

Seriously though, who better to explain to the Board the concerns of current and prospective homeowners. They hear them everyday. And I'm sure a good number of these agents have school aged kids in Lebo so they're certainly well acquainted with the "other side of the coin".

And lest we forget, agents get paid when a home sells. If that's easier for them to do just a bit further down Rt 19, then they'll show those houses instead.

I'm sure some might argue, "Where have the agents been for the last 12 months?" Well, speaking just for myself, it was not until just recently that things like total project costs, tax consequences, and other mounting district expenses have been discussed candidly in any great detail with the masses. Don't get me wrong, those questions have been asked throughout by many, but like a lot of us, the agents have only recently heard something that they can evaluate.

January 28, 2010 9:26 AM  
Blogger Tess Carter said...

As someone who moved here just 6 months ago (and is part of a young family- I'm only 24), I feel I can share some of the feelings about this side of the story. Of course, this is all based on my own experience- others might be quite different, but all I can offer is what we've seen and done.

We did a ton of research online first- we were coming from Texas. We chose Lebo because of the amazing community/small town vibe, character & charm, and walkability. That being said- we did not rule out other neighborhoods. Our realtor and mortgage guy both made it very clear to us (multiple times) that we could afford much more elsewhere. At the time, and right at our price range (in the 1 week we had to house hunt), we didn't find anything we loved remotely as close to the house we found. For that matter though, we only found 1 house we loved in Lebo... There was no doubt it was more expensive in house cost and taxes (friends kept commenting they were shocked we picked what they felt was an overpriced area), but we loved the house and Lebo enough that it wasn't an issue.

Now, I'm well-aware that taxes are going up across the board everywhere. I'm also trying to be optimistic at this point that the board will make the right decisions and things will work out (although I still wonder why our project is so much more expensive than other areas). HOWEVER, with Lebo already thought of as pricey with higher taxes than other neighborhoods, taxes going up everywhere, AND the added expense of the high school, it's going to send up MAJOR red flags. I was aware of the project before we moved here (thanks to blog lebo), and even though we can afford it and jumped in with our eyes open, I was very uneasy about the project. And while Lebo's school district is pretty darn awesome, I will point out that it isn't so heads and shoulders above other comparable areas that people wouldn't easily jump away.

We knew the score, but we still moved here. Lebo has things to offer that no one else does, and we love it. I don't regret it at all.

BUT, if the 'worst case' scenario does happen... I have no doubt that new families will look elsewhere- and if we were coming here during that 'worst case,' we might have been willing to give up the perks of Lebo for something more financially responsible.

From what I've seen, us 'young families' are all about planning for the 'worst case scenario' in this economic climate. Remember- we're the ones just getting out of school, often saddled with student loans, and wondering where all the jobs are. Whatever the chances of that 'worst case' happening are- even if they're small as many claim- young families WILL be concerned about them!

January 28, 2010 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Liz Huston said...

"Steinhauer noted that the current state of the high school -- with packing tape around some of the windows -- doesn't help sell the district to prospective residents either."

Replace the windows. Replace the roof. Replace the boiler. That would not cost $113 million, and then we can do more later we can afford it. I'm not saying that they should do nothing and wait for the building to fall down. Do something now then do a little more later.

These are educated people we are dealing with. Why none of this is making sense has really become irritating.

January 28, 2010 1:26 PM  
Blogger Marjie said...

Welcome to Mt. Lebanon Tess! I grew up here but bought a house in 2007 moving back home so I know where you are coming from. I too looked at other areas and knew as I bought my house I could have gotten more and newer om other districts.

Believe me we were once head and shoulders above other districts in terms of programming. Like the renovation there are other financial pressures on the district (as with other districts) that can effect programming. I'm hoping regardless of going with the plan (close to a foregone conclusion) or just fixing (it will take a huge shift on the bd) that programming does not take a hit.

January 28, 2010 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was my concern in an earlier comment. In terms of my house and my neighborhood, there are a couple of duplexes on my street, but because the single family homes are "affordable," I am surrounded by rental properties now. We do have a couple of responsible landlords, but I am also dealing with slum landlords. It is a growing problem in Mt. Lebanon. Ask your commissioner about that. Dan Miller, for one, can enlighten you. To think that rental properties will also share the load of tax increases, may be true theoretically, it could also add to the growing problem of rental properties owned by irresponsible landlords. It is just going to get worse and drag down surrounding property values even more. I am glad that Coldwell agents are coming forth to share their concerns regarding the real world.
Elaine Gillen

January 29, 2010 1:11 PM  

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