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using data to understand the past, present and future

Data Analysis & Decision Making through the URA

Market Value Analysis

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the URA, in conjunction with Allegheny County Economic Development and The Reinvestment Fund, completed the combined 2021 Market Value Analysis (MVA) for Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. The MVA offers an approach for community revitalization; it recommends applying interventions not only to where there is a need for development but also in places where public investment can stimulate private market activity and capitalize on larger public investment activities.

The MVA is a unique tool for characterizing markets because it creates an internally referenced index of a municipality’s residential real estate market. It identifies the highest-demand markets, areas of greatest distress, plus various market types in between. The MVA offers insight into the variation in market strength and weakness within and between traditional neighborhood boundaries because it uses Census block groups as the unit of analysis. Where market types abut each other on the map becomes instructive about the potential direction of market change, and ultimately, the appropriateness of types of investment or intervention strategies.

The combined Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh’s 2021 MVA utilized data to help define the local real estate market since the last interation of the MVA in 2016, including:

  • Residential Real Estate Sales (2017–2019) price and variance from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments (courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center [WPRDC]);

  • Mortgage Foreclosure (2017–2019) filings from the Allegheny County Department of Court Records (courtesy of WPRDC);

  • Parcel Year Built from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments’ assessment file (courtesy of WPRDC);

  • Parcel Condition from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments’ assessment file (courtesy of WPRDC);

  • Vacant Lot Area from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments’ assessment file (courtesy of WPRDC);

  • Building Violations from the Allegheny County Housing and Community Environment Inspections (courtesy of WPRDC);

  • Owner Occupancy from the 2014–2018 American Community Survey; and

  • Subsidized Housing Units (i.e., public housing developments, multi-family assistance properties, and housing choice vouchers) were obtained from HUD’s Picture of Subsidized Housing.

The MVA uses a statistical technique known as "cluster analysis," forming groups of areas (i.e., block groups) that are similar along the MVA descriptors, noted above. The goal is to form groups within which there is a similarity of characteristics within each group, but each group itself different from the others. Using this technique, the MVA condenses vast amounts of data for the universe of all properties to a manageable, meaningful typology of market types that can inform area-appropriate programs and decisions regarding the allocation of resources.

During the research process, staff from the URA, Allegheny County Economic Development, and The Reinvestment Fund spent an extensive amount of effort ensuring the data and analysis was accurate. In addition to testing the data, our staff physically examined different areas to verify the data sets being used were appropriate indicators and the resulting MVA categories accurately reflected the market.

Click here to access the 2021 combined Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh MVA via the Westerna Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC) website. Click here to access the previous 2016 MVA via WPRDC.

Tolemi BuildingBlocks

The URA partners with Tolemi for use of its BuildingBlocks analytical tool to aggregate property and market level data from city departments and authorities and guide strategic planning on:

  • Acquiring land/structure

  • Identifying nuisance properties

  • Providing real estate market level analysis

Like the URA, city agencies and authorities across the country use the BuildingBlocks user-friendly interface to identify, vet and prioritize properties for Land Bank activities; to inform strategic demolitions; to identify vacant structures; and to deploy policy and programmatic resources to stabilize property values.

BuildingBlocks allows the URA to:

  • Perform quick analysis of tax delinquent/ building permits by geographic area

  • Find vacant houses to include in the Treasurer's Sale

  • See the market impact from a URA project

  • Assist project managers in providing data for grants/proposals

  • Work with property owners who have the most code violations and unpaid taxes

  • And much more

Tolemi is a Boston-based "smart city" data analytics and web technology company that specializes in delivering mapping, visualizations, and performance/program evaluation solutions to the state and local government departments and agencies that administer urban development and real property. BuildingBlocks is their web-based solution that links city data sources and enterprise systems across departments and agencies to deliver critical analyses/insights that decision-makers use to align and prioritize policies, resources, and investments for property and neighborhood development.

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