Photo posted on the Fall Creek Neighborhood Association Facebook page

ITHACA, N.Y. — Would-be homeowners are in “bidding wars” over increasingly valuable property in Ithaca’s Fall Creek neighborhood, according to county officials.

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“It’s pretty hot,” says Jay Franklin, director of assessment for Tompkins County, of the Fall Creek real estate market. “If you put the property on the market, you’ll get offers within the week.”

(Franklin says the Fall Creek neighborhood is considered the area west of Linn Street; east of Willow Avenue; and north of Cascadilla  Avenue.)

Franklin detailed the following changes in the Fall Creek housing market:

1 — 5 to 15 percent increases in single year

Assessment rates are expected to increase by 5 to 15 percent this year for the majority of homes in Ithaca’s Fall Creek neighborhood, which has boomed amid a rise in people seeking to raise families within walking distance of downtown Ithaca and near Cornell University.

“I think people want to enjoy all the services and benefits you have from living downtown,” Franklin said. “… I think that is showing up in the marketplace.”

2 — Higher value, higher taxes

Franklin acknowledged that the rising home values will translate, almost certainly, into higher property taxes for homeowners, since the property taxes paid are determined in part by home value.

Still, he said rising property values is — on balance — better than the alternative. “For most people, your house is probably going to be your largest investment — so seeing it appreciate is not necessarily a bad thing,” he said.

“There’s more in taxes you have to pay, but it’s still a big investment you have and you’d rather see that go up in value than down.”

Photo posted on the Fall Creek Neighborhood Association Facebook page
Photo posted on the Fall Creek Neighborhood Association Facebook page

3 — Return to 2003/2004

Franklin said the rising home values mirror where much of the county was in 2003 and 2004.

After the local economy stalled in the mid-2000’s, “We weren’t hearing about bidding wars. But now we’re starting to hear that again.”

4 — Side-streets appreciating more quickly

Unlike some municipalities, Tompkins looks not just at not just differences in neighborhoods but at differences within neighborhoods when determining assessment values, according to Franklin.

“There are sub-neighborhoods within neighborhoods; if you look at Fall Creek … the side streets are showing the higher appreciation,” Franklin said.

5 — Concerns over gentrification

Franklin said he acknowledged that there are legitimate concerns that rising values will push lower and middle income residents out of the neighborhood, but added that this couldn’t affect how the county determines the value of a home.

“I grew up in Fall Creek; there’s a lot of things I worry about. But those are things that we can’t take into account … we have to reflect what’s going on within the marketplace,” Franklin said.

6 — Where else in Tompkins is booming?

Of course, Fall Creek is not the only neighborhood in the county seeing rising property values.

In particular, the village of Trumansburg and the Ellis Hollow neighborhood in Dryden have also seen rapidly rising property values, according to Franklin.

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.