Concerns about back-end costs for new Grand Forks homeowners

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) Some special assessment costs for new developments are being pushed back in a couple Grand Forks neighborhoods. Developers and realtors say the program is helping new homeowners, but some in the city government say there's some concern about back-end costs.

"Come on in," said Russel Crary a realtor. "There's a nice park and a nice school. Quiet and a nice neighborhood."

He's used to showing new houses and there's a lot of them on the south-end of Grand Forks.

"99 percent of the population it's the biggest asset they'll ever purchase and it's a big decision and there's a lot of moving parts," Crary said.

The newest south-end neighborhoods won't have to pay special assessment taxes, taxes on the new infrastructure, until 2020. Some, like Crary, said that's a good deal for new home owners.

"This was definitely part of their decision to buy now," he said of two lots he's sold to two first-time home buyers.

But, some in city government are concerned about abrupt increases in monthly payments.

City Council President Dana Sande said after a tax break for new homeowners in addition to the special assessment deferment, payments could go up 30% after the first three years.

"They're qualified from the bank to make the payments when the full assessed value comes on. But, at the same time it gives them to ability save a couple thousands bucks every year," said Crary as to why the deferment helps new home owners.

Now, more than 100 homes popping up in Grand Forks, the question now: can afford to move in?

The new homeowner tax exemption in Grand Forks is $150,000 exemption on the improvement value, not the land value, for the first two years.

The special assessments in the newest neighborhoods are being deferred for three years. In those new developments taxes will kick in during 2020. Estimates are around $2,000-$4,000 thousand dollars a year. Property owners will have to pay that tax for the next 25 years.

That's anywhere from $50,000 and $100,000 in total.