Revaluation underway: Milford assessor says values stayed flat

The city is in the process of revaluation, and City Assessor Dan Thomas said residential property values appear to have stayed flat over the last five years, and therefore, he expects little change in the majority of property assessments.

State law calls for municipalities to revalue properties every five years. The last time Milford revalued property was in 2011.

According to the State of Connecticut website, before 1995, the law required municipalities to revalue property every 10 years. In 1997, that changed to every four years, and in 2004, the legislature lengthened the interval between revaluations from four to five years.

The results of a revaluation take effect on October 1. By law, municipalities must assess property at 70% of its fair market value.

To determine property values, the city relies on field reviews, building permits, other records of property improvements, and this year sent out data mailers to 12,000 residents asking homeowners to verify information about their property.

Milford does the work in-house: Thomas has a background in determining property values, and he works with Marcus Irrek, the city’s deputy assessor/revaluation coordinator.

“Over the past five years the market hasn’t changed much at all,” Thomas said.

He said there may have been a 2-to-3% decrease in market values a couple of years ago, followed by some increases, but he hasn’t seen major changes.

“Overall, rates on assessment to sale price has consistently been at 70% on a monthly basis,” Thomas said, explaining that means that the assessments have been on par.

Of course there are exceptions. There are some areas where values have increased in value, and some where properties have not held their values as others have, he said.

For example, Thomas said that some shoreline neighborhoods hit by storms, which are in transition as homes are rebuilt, may decrease in value, while those in shoreline areas not hit by storms may have seen an increase in value.

The assessors will review the water areas last to see where sales prices come in.

“Our job is really historians,” Thomas said, explaining that the key task during revaluation is to look at sales prices over time.

“The majority is going to be flat,” Thomas repeated.

The new assessments will be based on market values as of Oct. 1, 2016. Residents will get a notice in December or January stating their new assessment.

Several local real estate agents had varying opinions regarding property values in Milford.

Arnold Peck of Property World said Milford is stable. New construction and some key desirable areas are seeing strong sales prices, he said.

Cathy Vincelette of Ditchkus Realty said Milford’s assessor “is right on the money” when he says that values have stayed pretty much the same over the past five years.

On the other hand, Bob Joy, owner of Joy Real Estate Services, said values are down considerably. “I don’t think anyone can dispute that,” Joy said, adding that from what he has seen, properties over $400,000 are not selling quickly.

The reason: “There’s not a lot of confidence in Connecticut,” Joy said.

Revaluation typically causes a shift in the tax burden from residential to commercial, and over time that shifts back to residential. Thomas said he has not begun reviewing commercial values so he could not comment yet on how revaluation will affect the commercial sector.

After receiving notice of their new assessments, property owners may discuss/appeal their assessments by following the instructions that will accompany the assessment notice. It will direct them to contact the assessor’s office to set up an informal hearing with the assessor.

Taxpayers may also wait until February and file an application to appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals, which will meet either in March or April. Applications to appeal to the board must be received by the assessor by Feb. 20, 2017.

If, after exhausting both avenues of appeal, the taxpayer is still aggrieved, they may appeal to the courts.