COURT HOUSE – Can you see the water (ocean, bay or lake) from your house?
If so, and you’re a Middle Township resident, prepare for higher land values.
They will likely translate into higher taxes after assessors fan across the municipality in the soon-to-start revaluation of over 13,000 parcels.
The first of two information sessions on the township’s revaluation drew over 70 to town-ship hall, Nov. 9. The second was held Nov. 10 at Rio Grande Fire House.
Assessor Joseph Ravitz, in his 23rd year, and Joseph Pizzoli, project manager of Cole, Layer and Trumble, explained the process, apparently to the satisfaction of residents.
The last revaluation was in 1992.
Since then, property values have soared, dropping ratio of assessed values to market values to 58 percent. Below t85 percent brings a revaluation order from the county Tax Board.
Ravitz cited a property assessed for tax purposes at $78,000 on the market with an asking price of $995,000.
“Most of you have assessments below $995,000,” Ravitz said. “If that property is worth anywhere near $995,000, this individual’s assessment is way below market,” he said.
Because of that inequity, other taxpayers are paying that person’s share, he said.
“I never thought I’d see million dollar sales in Middle Township,” said Ravitz. Such are taking place, “and they’re not on the water,” he added. “Anything near the water will go way up.”
He said, the standard rule of revaluation will likely apply: a third go up, a third stay the same, a third go down.
“I assure you, we will try to be as fair as possible,” he said.
Ravitz said he keeps a weekly check on deed transfers in order to maintain a running idea of property values.
Asked why the township is performing a revaluation “at the top of the market,” Ravitz re-plied, “If I knew the top of the market, I’d be a rich man, and I wouldn’t be your tax asses-sor.”
It’s impossible to accurately gauge when a real estate market is at its peak, Ravitz said. It was expected several years ago, yet prices continue to soar.
Would it be possible to do in-house revaluation, and thus save the $600,000 or more that such a service costs?
“It would be possible,” Ravitz relied, “but it would wind up costing more. One town in Middlesex (County) has four full-inspectors and four cars.”
Ocean City, which recently completed a revaluation, is not safe from rising property val-ues, said Pizzoli.
“The value increase has been so great, they sent out an RFP (request for proposals) to do an update,” Pizzoli said.
“If it’s out of whack in two years, will be have to do this all over?” a resident asked.
“Not necessarily,” Ravitz replied. “If we’re faced with a rapid increase, and we feel we have good data on houses, we may want to readjust land values. We may do a computer re-valuation. But if it’s more than five years, the county wants a full revaluation,” Ravitz said.
Pizzoli stressed that homes will be valued with others like them. Thus, older homes will not be placed in value with brand new ones.
“The majority of value will be in the land itself,” he said of older dwellings.
Pizzoli said the firm would send brochures to neighborhoods within the next month where data collectors will work and police will be notified where they will be working.
While owners are not obliged to let data collectors inside, but interior information is re-quired for revaluation.
If they cannot observe the interior, they must be estimated.
Items that will be checked include:
o Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
o Type of heating and cooling systems.
o Year house was built.
o General construction, materials and physical condition of the interior and exterior.
Personal items, such as furniture, have no influence on the home’s value, and will not be noted.
Front line data collectors will have visible identity cards when they knock at doors.
Their vehicle’s license plates will be on file with police (465-8700), should a home-owner have a concern about a data collector’s validity.
Included later in the process will be digital photographs. They will generally be taken from the street of the dwelling’s front, and will become part of a permanent database in the asses-sor’s office.
If residents are not home when data collectors call, they will perform an exterior inspec-tion, including measurements, and will leave a “call back” business card when they will revisit.
The card will contain a phone number to set an appointment for specific time and date.
Collectors will not be able to answer questions about property values or taxes.
Other data collectors will inspect commercial properties. Some information asked about those structures will include building income and expenses, and vacancy rates.
General dates regarding the process include:
Data collection: sometime this month.
Photography: February 2006.
Valuation analysis: June.
Notices will be sent to property owners in November 2006. Informal value reviews will take place November 2006, formal assessment appeals in May 2007.
Property taxes will not be levied on new assessments until the 2007 tax year.
Those with questions about the revaluation project should call 1-800-959-6876.
Contact Campbell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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