What is a revaluation?
A revaluation is an update of all assessments in the town conducted under the direction of the local assessor. Jeff Earls of Cross Country Appraisal Group, LLC is a state-certified assessor whose duties are to discover, list and value all taxable real property in the town, in a uniform and equitable manner. The assessor is not involved in the collection of property taxes.
Why is a revaluation necessary?
The state recommends that all property in the town be assessed within 10% of market value. Further, the NH Constitution (Part 2 Article 6) requires that each municipality takes value anew every 5 years. A revaluation is the most equitable way to accomplish this.
Who is Cross Country Appraisal Group, LLC (CCAG)?
Cross Country Appraisal Group LLC is the professional firm hired by the Town to do our assessing. It is a revaluation and assessing company serving New Hampshire and Vermont. Its assessors are DRA certified and specialize in small and mid-sized municipal governments. The company offers full and cyclical revaluations, general assessments, current use taxation, municipal abatements, value defense and municipal utility appraisals. In January of 2010, bids were accepted from firms to contract for our assessing. The Select Board chose CCAG after interviews with several firms.
When was the last revaluation?
The values from the last valuation took effect in 2009.
What was the Equalization Ratio (level of assessment) for 2013?
108.8%. Every year the NH Department of Revenue Administration reviews a ratio study using sales from October 1, of the previous year, through September 30 of the year being analyzed. Sales are compared to the assessments in order to create the ratio. What the ratio means is that the average property in Hopkinton was assessed at 108.8% of its sale price in 2013.
Will all property values change?
Most likely, yes. However, not all property values will change at the same rate. Market value will have decreased more for some neighborhoods and property types than for others. Some neighborhoods and property types may have increased in value and others may have remained the same. One purpose of a revaluation is to make sure that the assessed values reflect the changes that have occurred in property values.
What is market value?
State law requires that your property be assessed at market value. Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property. For a sale to be a market value (arm’s-length) sale, the seller and buyer must be unrelated and willing parties (not under pressure) to sell or buy, the property must be on the market for a reasonable length of time, the payment must be made in cash or its equivalent, and the financing must be typical for that type of property. RSA 75:1 further defines market value as: “…the property’s full and true value as the same would be appraised in payment of a just debt due from a solvent debtor.”
What if there hasn't been a recent arm's-length sale of my property?
The next best evidence is the arm’s-length sales of reasonably comparable properties. These are properties similar to yours in location, age, style, condition, and other features that affect market value, such as the number of bathrooms and size of garage.
What if there are no reasonable comparable sales?
The appraiser will then consider all other factors that may affect the market value of your property. The cost to replace your building, less any depreciation, plus the value of land could also be used to estimate market value. For rental properties, the income and expenses of the real estate could be considered.
I recently built my home. Will the actual construction cost be considered?
Your construction cost is a historical figure that may or may not reflect the current market value of your property. It is only one element that will be considered.
How will my taxes change as a result of the new assessment?
The revaluation may result in an increase or decrease of individual assessments depending on how a property value increased or decreased relative to the average change in assessment. It does not mean that all property taxes will increase or decrease. Remember, assessments are only the base that is used to determine the tax burden. Although the value of your property affects your share of taxes, the actual amount you pay is determined by the budget needs of the school, town, county, and precincts. All of these taxing units decide what services they will provide in the coming year and how much money they will need to provide these services. These items are then presented to the School District Meeting, Town Meeting, Precinct Annual Meetings, and County Commissioners for approval or disapproval. Once the decision to approve a budget is made, a tax rate is set by the state that will generate the needed dollars. Your property taxes are then determined by taking your assessment, dividing by 1000, and multiplying by the tax rate. As an example, if the same amount of money is to be raised after the revaluation as the previous year and each assessment doubles, the tax rate would merely be cut in half.
What sales did you compare to my home to arrive at my value?
What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
- Added rooms or garage
- Aluminum or vinyl siding
- Substantial modernization of kitchen or baths
- Central air conditioning
- Extensive remodeling
Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
Normal maintenance will help retain the market value of your property, but generally will not affect your assessment in a significant way.
How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rate, and changes in the tax laws will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the marketplace, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll.
Do all assessments change at the same rate?
There are differences between individual properties between neighborhoods. In one area, sales may indicate a substantial increase in value in a given year. In another neighborhood, there may be no change, or even a decrease in property values.
Nobody inspected the inside of my home, so how could you reassess it?
The Town Office maintains a complete record for each property. Information is kept current through permit inspections, sales inspections, periodic re-inspections and exterior reviews. The records are available for your review. This information is used to develop the new assessment.
I've heard you develop values by computer. Is this correct?
Just as in many other fields, computers are useful in the assessment process. Assessors are trained to look for relationships between property characteristics and market value. By coding these characteristics and studying sale prices, assessors can estimate value by developing formulas and models. Computers are much faster and are capable of advanced analysis in this area. Despite these capabilities, common sense and assessor judgment are always required to verify assessments. Assessors most familiar with the neighborhoods and properties review all assessments.
How will I know if my assessment is equitable?
There are two very good methods of determining this. First, compare the property to similar properties that sold in the previous year; the value should be in line with these sale prices. Second, if no recent sales are available, compare the assessment to other similar properties in the area using the full list of Preliminary Values on the town website and available at the Town Hall; the value should be in line with these similar properties. Remember, very few properties are exactly alike and values should be comparable, but it seldom will be exactly the same as what seems to be a similar property.
How do I know what my new assessment is?
As required by the NH Department of Revenue Administration Administrative Rules, all property owners have been notified of their new assessment.
What if I don't agree with my assessment?
Schedule an appointment with a hearings officer following the instruction in the letter you received or by checking under assessor on the Town website. During this informal session you can learn how your assessment was made, what factors were considered, and what type records there are on your property.
What if after this informal hearing, I still disagree with the assessment?
If any property owner believes their assessment is incorrect and wishes to file for an abatement, they shall first appeal to the local assessing officials in writing, by March 1, following the notice of tax and not afterwards. The assessing office will have the necessary form, or it is available on the town website. The form must be completed in full.
What if, after this formal review with the assessor, I still disagree with the assessment?
You should arrange to appear before the Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) or Superior Court. The assessing office can provide you with an objection form to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals that you must complete in full. You will then be scheduled for a hearing at the BTLA. BTLA operates like a court, but it is not as formal. It can hear only sworn oral testimony and will hear testimony from you or your representative and from the assessor.
What evidence do I need to present to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA)?
State law puts the burden of proof on the property owner to show that the assessment is incorrect. Keep in mind that your proof must be strong enough to prove that the assessor’s value is incorrect. Only relevant testimony given at the hearing will be considered by the board. Stating that property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony. You should establish in your mind what you think your property is worth. The best evidence of this would be a recent sale price of your property. The next best evidence of this would be recent sales prices of properties that are similar to yours; the closer to your property in proximity and similarity, the better the evidence. Another type of evidence is oral testimony from a witness who has made a recent appraisal of your property.
What happens after the Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA) makes its decision?
The board will either give or mail you a notice of its decision. If you are not happy with the board’s determination, the notice will contain information on how you may file for reconsideration of the board’s decision.