2013 Assessed Values
The 2013 Update: Is This Really Necessary?
It seems like just yesterday when Bedford conducted its first complete revaluation in seventeen years in 2004, and then adjusted values again in 2008. Now it is time to update values for the 2013 tax year. At this point many of you may be saying either “Do we really need to go through this again?” or “It is about time!” In either case the answer to these differing opinions again lies in both the New Hampshire State Constitution, and what is called the certification process.
Part 2, Article 6 of the New Hampshire Constitution states "…there shall be a valuation of the estates within the state taken anew once in every five years, at least, and as much oftener as the general court shall order." Until 2003, however, this part of the constitution wasn't really enforced; the process had evolved into pretty much "let ten years or more go by and if things get too out of whack we will fix it." Intentional or not, this had become the way for a long time throughout most of New Hampshire.
Assessment Certification Process
In 2003, as the result of several court cases, the assessment certification process began; the short version of this is, if there is going to be an education property tax, then the assessed values of communities throughout NH need to be reasonably close to market value and need to be kept there on a regular basis. Towns and cities like Bedford that had not performed a revaluation in a long time were first on the list to be looked at by the Department of Revenue. As the assessed values in Bedford compared to market value in 2003 were not close to market value (only 65% of market at most), and as it had been seventeen years since its previous revaluation Bedford was compelled to conduct the 2004 revaluation.
Five years after 2003, i.e. 2008, it was again necessary to update these values at what ended up to be 97% of market and now the task presents itself for 2013; please understand no one in this office or working for the town just decided to do these updates - we simply have to. We as well as the 70 or so other communities in New Hampshire performing some kind of update each year are aware of the present economic situation. The next years, at a minimum, that Bedford will have to again adjust values are 2018, 2023, 2028, and so on.
Adjustments & Changes
A question you may now be asking is are most values being decreased? At this point it is very important to understand assessed values are being adjusted from and as of April 1, 2008, not just the last six months or so. Qualified, arms-length transactions (an arms-length transaction is a sale between well informed buyers and sellers without any duress or additional pressure to buy or sell; examples of duress influenced sales typically include foreclosures, bank sales, auctions, estate and divorce settlement sales, investment “flips” and work transfers to other parts of the country - both a buyer and a seller may have to make a hasty decision so they can get to their new location; other examples of non arms-length transactions can include buying your long time neighbors' house skipping the open market entirely, buying a home from your relatives, or sometimes simply being in the right place at the right time to avoid competition) between April 1, 2011 through April 1, 2013 are used to set assessed values as of April 1, 2013. The indications are compared to 2008 the present market is undeniably softer and as such many but not all assessments will go down some, and at different rates of decrease.
One major difference between what is known as fee appraisal (for a mortgage when you buy a home for example) and mass appraisal - what assessors do, is assessors must create valuations for entire groups of property using a large period of time and a large pool of sales as opposed to valuing one property at a time for a specific purpose (sale, refinance, estate/probate, etc) using the most comparable three or four sales picked from a large pool of sales. Assessors and Appraisers frequently use different time period criteria to value property and do not always agree - this is why if your assessed value is not exactly the same as a fee appraisal or for what it sold for at arms-length the assessment can be okay - there is some leeway because assessors have to satisfy large groups of properties - residential and commercial, and not just one.
Assessments & the Market
It is very important to understand that assessments freeze a moment in time while the market itself is usually always moving; unless there are obvious errors or there is information about your property this office did not previously know about, in an appreciating market we are usually not going to increase your assessment four months after the date of valuation just because you paid more for it, nor are we going to necessarily reduce your assessment because you paid less than the assessed value as of the date of valuation in a softer market. In any market, good or not so good, not every home sells for less than its assessed value - that is not statistically possible especially in a town of this size.
In any market, good times or bad, is seems as if there is no good time to conduct an update; it is just something we must do. Again, due to legislative changes combined with increased vigilance by the Department of Revenue Administration, it is something we must now do more often. So after you view the New Values Report (PDF) come into the Assessor's Office because it is up to you to make sure the information on your property is correct; bathrooms, square footage, finished area, age, etc.
About the New Values Report
The values (PDF) are in alphabetical order by street name. When reading the list of values there are a number of things to remember:
- Since property is assessed as of April 1 of each year, several of the amounts shown reflect a building as it stood April 1 2013
- The house may not have been complete as of that day, and in some cases the lot was vacant that day and now there's a house on it.
- The values for such properties will be adjusted the following April 1 2014 and reviewed as to its state of completion and physical condition.
- Some land is in current use, resulting in a value that looks unusually low, especially vacant land.
- If a sale occurred after this list was created, or if the deed was not received by us in time, the new owner may not be listed. You can check with the Assessor's office to make sure the new owner information will be there for the fall 2013 tax bill.
- None of these values reflect any credits or exemptions, as those are reflected on your actual tax bill.
- At present the tax rate is $20.32 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. When information as to the Town portion of the tax rate is available it will be made public.