Confusion Around the Word “Abatement” in Real Estate

by Allison Jaffe 09/15/2019

Each industry comes with a vocabulary of its own, and in real estate, some of that vocabulary is downright confusing. So, if you find yourself stumped by lingo, jargon, or acronyms, you’re not alone. One of the most confusing words in the real estate industry is “abatement.”

In legal terms, to abate means to remove, lessen, or diminish a thing. In residential real estate, however, abatement has both positive and negative connotations. Here is a short primer on what you need to know. 

Property tax abatement – the positive view

Most often to home buyers, the term abatement applies to a property tax abatement. Property taxes are ongoing, annual homeowner expenses, even when you own your home outright, so the ability to access an abatement means valuable savings to homeowners. When a state, county, city, or other taxing entity offers homeowners an abatement, it means a tax reduction during the years of the abatement. Specific reductions apply to all homes in a location, while other abatements apply to specific homes that meet certain criteria for one-time improvements, upgrades, or enhancements.

Some abatements could be for installing environmentally friendly additions or upgrades such as solar panels or green-technology roofing materials. Others apply to renovations that increase both your own property's value and the value of the area. This type is true for many areas under redevelopment. Other abatements might apply to convert ware-housing or other industrial or commercial areas into residential housing or low-income housing.

Of course, all improvements must conform to the abatement's requirements, permits, and local codes, so make sure you know all the information about an abatement before relying on it as part of a purchase.

Property tax abatements may make qualifying for a mortgage easier since it reduces the income/debt to housing cost ratio. It can also be a selling-point as long as it is still in force when you choose to sell your home.

Asbestos and lead abatement – negative consequences

In a twist of the English language, the potentially negative use of abatement is the requirement to remove or mitigate exposure to asbestos and lead. If you purchase an older home, particularly one built before 1978, or conversions from commercial to residential use, all renovations must conform to modern lead-free paint, lead-free plumbing, and asbestos-free insulation, siding, roofing, and ceiling materials requirements. Prior to the 70s lead solder joint in pipes and lead ingredients in paint were common, but since children tend to put paint chips in their mouths, and since drinking water flows through those lead pipes, the Environmental Protection Agency requires it to be removed or completely sealed. Asbestos used as insulation around ducts and pipes or vermiculite attic insulation, or in wall, flooring or ceiling materials requires removal by certified professional asbestos removers.

Let your real estate professional help you determine if the home you're considering buying falls in either of these abatement categories.

About the Author

Allison Jaffe

Welcome to Key Real Estate Services 

Providing professional representation for Sellers and Buyers throughout NYC and the northern suburbs.

Westchester/Rockland/Putnam: 914-661-0340

Manhattan/Bronx/Brooklyn/Queens: 718-874-2877

Meet Our Team

Allison Jaffe, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Office: 914-661-0340 or 718-874-2877, Ext. 2

Call/Text: 718-577-5284

Email: [email protected]

During more than 14 years as an independent broker, Allison has managed all manner of residential real estate sales – single and multi-family houses, condos, co-ops, and mixed-use -- from upper Manhattan, throughout the Bronx and Queens, across Westchester to Putnam and Rockland Counties. Allison specializes as a Sellers Agent, Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), Estate Properties Agent, and a Certified Buyer Representative (CBR). Please see our menu of Client Services to learn more about each of these focused areas of real estate expertise.

"I determined early in my real estate career to focus on the specific needs of my respective clients rather than a specific geographic area. My job isn’t to sell buyers on a town or school district – they know where they want to live – my job is to sell the one property in that location that my client has to sell. My buyer clients want options and having lived and worked in Westchester, Rockland, the Bronx, and Manhattan, I know where to find those options.”

Linda Mancini, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

Office: 914-661-0340 or 718-874-2877, Ext. 3

Call/Text: 718-619-8022

Email: [email protected]

Linda joined Key Real Estate Services in 2017 to expand our client representation throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Extending the firm’s core principal of market expertise, Linda specializes in HDFC (Housing Development Fund Corporation) apartments in NYC that keep affordable housing options open to financially qualified families.

"I’m happy to represent the firm’s client-centric, market expertise approach to real estate throughout NYC. After more than thirty years of experience with HDFC properties, I’m able to guide qualified clients through the particular challenges of buying into and selling out of this unique homeownership option.”

Lea Mae de Guzman, Client Care Coordinator

Office: 914-661-0340 or 718-874-2877, Ext. 1

Call/Text: 718-577-5286

Email: [email protected]

Overseeing transaction activity, Lea works directly with Allison and Linda to keep every sale and purchase moving forward efficiently. With her finger on the pulse of each client’s transaction, Lea is at the firm’s administrative hub for scheduling, document processing, and coordinated communication.

"While I attend to the day-to-day clerical and communication needs for all of Key Real Estate Services’ clients, Allison and Linda are free to give their undivided attention to one client at a time in the field. I’m sort of the company's human tracking app that every client can access online, by text, or on the phone.”