TOWN OF BELCHERTOWN
Frequently Asked Questions
Concerning the Fiscal Year 2014 Interim Year Adjustment
1. What is the difference between a Revaluation and an Interim Year Adjustment?
State law requires that a revaluation be conducted every three years to ensure that all properties in town are assessed at market value. An Interim Year Adjustment updates the values between revaluations.
2. Why is an Interim Year Adjustment necessary?
Changes in market conditions between revaluations may require that assessments be adjusted to meet mass-appraisal standards of market value. The Assessors are required by law to assess property at market value each year.
3. As a result of the Interim Year Adjustment, will all property values change at the same percentage?
Not necessarily. Market conditions typically do not change at the same rate throughout town. Valuations may have increased more for some neighborhoods and property types than for others. Some neighborhoods and property types may have decreased in value while others may have increased or stayed the same.
4. Who will conduct the Interim Year Adjustment?
Under the guidance of the Board of Assessors, the Director of Assessments will update all properties to market value. Outside consultants may also be utilized, particularly in valuing the town's commercial and industrial properties.
5. What is considered market value?
State law requires that property be assessed at market value each year. Market value is defined, as the most probable price a property will bring on the open market. The Assessors follow Department of Revenue guidelines in determining market values throughout town.
6. What is a comparable sale?
For FY2014, a comparable sale is a property that sold during 2012 and is similar to yours in location, style, age, size, and condition. The Assessors analyzed the 2012 market sales because 1/1/2013 is the assessment date for FY2014.
7. How can the Assessors value my property for more than I paid for it?
For FY2014, the Assessors analyzed all of the arms-length sales that occurred during calendar year 2012. The sales were analyzed by building style, neighborhood etc. Typically, some properties will sell for more than market value and others will sell for less than market value. The Assessors follow Department of Revenue guidelines in determining the average selling price of each type of property.
8. What if there are no comparable sales for my property?
With approximately 100 sales occurring in Belchertown each year, comparable sales can be found for most properties. The Assessors may also consider other factors that affect the market value of your property. Rental income is also used to estimate value for apartment buildings along with commercial & industrial properties.
9. Will the wetlands on my property reduce my land value?
The presence of wetlands does not warrant an automatic reduction in ones land value. In most cases property values are not negatively affected by wetlands.
10. What are the major factors that determine property assessments?
Typically, the lot size, location, square footage of the house, overall condition, and amenities are the main factors that determine property assessments.
11. Will my assessment increase if I make improvements to my property?
Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of your property will increase your assessment. The following examples are factors that will likely increase the assessment of your property.
- Additions, such as added rooms or garages
- Extensive remodeling or modernization
12. How can my assessment increase when I haven't improved my property?
The Assessors may adjust valuations every year if the town's values either rise or fall due to market conditions. If market conditions change substantially, an adjustment to your assessment will be necessary.
13. Why is it necessary for the Assessors to inspect my property?
Department of Revenue guidelines state that the Assessors shall inspect all property at least once every 10 years. To make a proper assessment on a home, it is desirable that an interior and exterior inspection be conducted. A full inspection will provide the Assessors with the correct data on your property and eliminate the need to estimate data.
14. What information are the Assessors looking for during the inspection process?
Examples of data the Assessors will verify are: the room count, type of heating system and physical condition of the home.
15. What can I do if I don't agree with my assessment?
You can file an abatement application with the Assessors office when you receive your actual tax bill. The actual tax bill is mailed after the tax rate is set. The last day to file an abatement application is February 1.
16. What evidence should I present to the Assessors if I file an abatement application?
The burden of proof is on the property owner to show that their assessment is incorrect. The best evidence would be a recent sale price on your home or a comparable sale(s). You could also compare similar properties in your neighborhood to see if the assessments are equitable. Although it is only an opinion of value, the Assessors could also consider a narrative appraisal of your property as evidence.
17. Will my new assessment affect the amount of property tax I pay?
Each fiscal year the town establishes the property tax levy, which is the amount of revenue a community can raise through real and personal property taxes. The tax levy is the largest source of revenue in terms of providing for and maintaining town services. Although the value of your property affects your share of the levy, the actual amount of tax property owners pay as a whole, is determined during the budget process and at Town Meeting. Your tax bill is calculated by multiplying your assessment by the fiscal year's tax rate.