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Assessor - Revaluation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

TOWN OF WOLCOTT REVALUATION
 
As mandated by Connecticut State Statutes, the Town of Wolcott is starting work necessary for the Revaluation of all Real Estate in Town.
 
This Revaluation will be effective for the Grand List date of October 1, 2016 (and thus, for taxes due and payable in July, 2017).
 
Though much has been published about Revaluations, there is still a general misconception about what exactly a Revaluation is, why it has to be done and its effects.
 
To help educate and inform, we have compiled some of the most asked questions regarding Revaluation. 
 
1. What is a Revaluation?
 
“REVALUATION: THE MASS APPRAISAL OF ALL PROPERTIES WITHIN AN ASSESSMENT JURISDICTION TO EQUALIZE ASSESSED VALUES”.
 
A Revaluation can also be defined as a complete re-inventorying of a Town’s taxable Real Property. There are generally two types of Revaluations: A physical Revaluation and a non-physical Revaluation. A physical revaluation involves a complete re-inspection and re-measurement of all properties with new values for all properties being the final result. A non-physical Revaluation does not involve a re-inspection and re-measurement of all properties but does result in new values for all properties. However some properties are inspected even under a non-physical Revaluation. Properties that may be re-inspected during a non-physical Revaluation may include (but are not necessarily limited to) properties that have sold, properties that are newly constructed, properties that have an outstanding building permit, etc. The 2016 Revaluation for Wolcott is a physical Revaluation.
 
For the Town of Wolcott, this Revaluation will involve the re-appraisal of all real estate in town, in order to bring about uniformity in property values. 
 
2. Why conduct a Revaluation?
 
A Revaluation is undertaken to: (1) secure a more equitable distribution of the tax burden, (2) to bring the assessment level up-to-date, (3) to modernize assessment procedures and (4) to comply with the State statute. 
 
A Revaluation is not intended to artificially raise revenues; its purpose is to value all properties by the same standard at the same point in time.  
 
Furthermore, Connecticut Statutes require that all property be re-valued every five years, (Section 12-62). The purpose of this requirement is to insure uniformity in real property valuations by eliminating inequities that have developed since the last Revaluation.  
 
Property values obviously change over time. 2011 was the date of Wolcott’s last Revaluation. Over time, changing economic conditions may result in a change in the market value for residential properties.  A properly conducted Revaluation eliminates the inequities that the past five years may have created.
 
3. What does a Revaluation do?
 
A properly conducted Revaluation eliminates the value inequities that the past five years may have created.
 
This equalization will be accomplished by estimating the current market value (as of October 1, 2016) of each and every parcel of real estate in the Town of Wolcott.
 
4. What is Market Value?
 
“The most probable price in cash, terms equivalent to cash or in other precisely revealed terms, for which the appraised property will sell in a competitive market under all conditions requisite to fair sale, with the buyer and seller each acting prudently, knowledgeably and for self-interest and assuming that neither is under undue stress”.
 
5. Who determines Market Value?
 
People. You and the person who sold the house to you or the person who is willing to buy it from you. People make the market. People determine value. 
 
The Revaluation’s job is to research and estimate market values. It is not merely a guess. All legitimate sales for the year proceeding October 1, 2016 are used to develop guidelines. Also, the Revaluation will take into account many factors in order to estimate market value.
 
A few of the other factors considered are: local market conditions including; size and quality of the construction; age of the building; condition of the improvements; improving or deteriorating neighborhood; zoning regulations and so on. (Naturally, there are different sets of considerations for industrial and commercial property).
 
6. Isn’t what I paid for my Property Market Value?
 
Not always. Some people have paid more than the market value for their property. Others may have bought their property at a bargain price and still, others may have purchased years ago when prices were different. Even if you have purchased your home recently and paid the current market value, your property assessment and taxes were based upon 70% of its 2011 market value and thus, must be revalued to reflect the 2016 market value.
 
The true test of the Revaluation is whether the total estimated market value of your property, as of the October 1, 2016, is reasonable.
 
7. When will I find out what my new Market Value is?
 
Notices will be mailed in November 2016.
 
The estimated market value for your property will be clearly printed on the notice you receive. 
 
Also on that notice will be your 2016 assessment (which is the 2016 market value multiplied by 70%) and the 2011 assessment (which is the 2011 market value multiplied by 70%). 
 
Please, do not multiply your new 2016 assessment times the July 2015 mill rate.  The mill rate for the new 2016 assessments will not be set until June, 2017.
 
8. Why doesn’t the notice I will receive tell me how much my taxes will be?
 
The purpose of the notice is to show you the estimated market value of your property. The Board of Finance is responsible for the setting of the mill rate. After reviewing budget requests and public input, that Board will set the mill rate in June, 2017. Remember, a revaluation addresses value not taxes.
 
9. How do I decide if my New Market Value is okay?
 
a. Verify that the information that the Revaluation Company has regarding your property is correct. That information is only available on the following website: TO BE PROVIDED AFTER NOVEMBER 14, 2016.  The Assessor’s Office does not have the new values or the new property record cards.  
 
b. Verify that the assessments for properties similar to yours are similar. Please remember that no two properties are identical. So there will be differences and these differences will result in differences in the assessments.  That information is only available on the following website: TO BE PROVIDED AFTER NOVEMBER 14, 2016. The Assessor’s Office does not have the new values or the new property record cards. 
 
10. Will all property values change?
 
Probably. However, all property values will not change at the same rate. Property values may increase greater in one neighborhood than another. There are differences in individual properties and differences in neighborhoods.  Sales may show a greater change in one neighborhood than another. Within the same neighborhood, different types of properties may show different value changes. A one-story home in a neighborhood of two-story homes may not increase as much as the two-story homes. An older home may not increase as much as a newer home in the same neighborhood. A home built in the 1700’s or 1800’s may increase greater than a new home. Remember, one of the purposes of a Revaluation is to ensure that your market value reflects the changes that have occurred over the past five years in the Wolcott real estate market.
 
11. What sales did you use to value my property?
 
Most people are familiar with what is commonly called a “bank appraisal” especially if they have gone through a re-finance of their home. Most people also assume the Revaluation Company will use the same procedure.  Although the basic appraisal concepts are the same and the results similar, the process is different. In a Revaluation, the value of your property is based on an analysis of the entire Wolcott real estate market for the period of October 1, 2015 to and including October 1, 2016. A study is done of sales that occurred during this period, so that the Revaluation Company can establish valuation parameters such as construction tables, land rates, market adjustment tables etc. When these valuation parameters are applied to the properties that sold, the resulting value should be very close to its sales price. After testing these valuation parameters, the Revaluation Company will then apply these valuation parameters to all properties in Wolcott. By doing so, the Revaluation Company is approximating the market value for every property in Wolcott from information derived from all Wolcott sales. Therefore, there are no three specific sales used to estimate the market value of your home. All recent sales were included in the analysis that established the valuation parameters.
 
12. What if I don’t agree with my New Market Value?
 
If you honestly believe that the new estimated market value does not accurately reflect the market value of your property for October 1, 2016, the first step is for you to contact the Revaluation Company.
 
Included with your notice will be instructions on how to make an appointment for an Informal Hearing to review your new market value. This is the proper way to correct any clerical errors or miscalculations. A member of the Revaluation Company will go over your property record card with you. No decisions will be made at the time of your Hearing. After review of your information, an adjustment will be made if you show that an error significantly affecting the description (and subsequent value) of your property was made. If there appears to be a major discrepancy between the information on your property record card and the factual state of your property, the Revaluation Company will re-schedule another inspection and review of your property.
 
As a result of your Hearing, a Change or No Change notice will be mailed December 31, 2016.
 
When trying to determine if your new market value is reasonable, remember to compare your property with similar properties in your neighborhood. Do not compare your colonial with a ranch type home or your 2,500 square foot home with a 1,600 square foot home, etc.
 
Although a small percentage of property owners actually go through the appeal process, (if you honestly believe a mistake has been made) you are encouraged to schedule an informal hearing, and then, if necessary, a formal hearing, with the Board of Assessment Appeals, to insure that your assessment is fair and equitable. 
 
Remember, what you are appealing is the total market value of your property.
 
13. If I still don’t agree, can this be resolved without the expense of going to court?
 
There are three appeal steps available to all property owners, including the right to appeal in court.
 
The first two steps offer you an opportunity to resolve your disagreement at no cost to you.
 
These are:
 
1. An Informal Hearing with the Revaluation Company (See Question 12).
 
2. A Formal Hearing before the Board of Assessment Appeals. You are not required to be represented by legal counsel at this meeting. It is recommended, as you did in the Informal Hearing, that when you present your case, include any and all information you have that you think may affect the estimated fair market value of your property. The Board of Assessment Appeals will meet in March, 2017. A prescribed form must be filed by Friday, February 17, 2017. The forms and instructions will be available in the Assessor’s Office after January 31, 2017.
 
14. What if I’m not satisfied with the decision of the Board of Assessment Appeals?
 
You can appeal to the courts as provided under Section 12-117a and 12-119 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  
 
15. What about the Elderly and other hardship cases?
 
The law requires that the Revaluation Company (and the Assessor) assess/appraise property and not the people who own it. As sympathetic as we may be, State Law does not permit us to take matters of hardship into consideration. Under Connecticut State Statutes, all property is assessed at 70% of its estimated fair market value. However, there are Connecticut State Statutes that provide tax relief for qualifying persons who are disabled and/or over 65 years of age. Other Statutes provide exemptions for veterans, totally disabled persons and the blind. The State of Connecticut also makes special provisions (for reducing the assessment) of land that may be classified as Farmland, Forestland, or Open Space Land.
 
If you now have an exemption, it will automatically be deducted from your assessment for the July, 2017 tax bill. 
 
If you have any questions regarding these programs, please call the Assessor’s Office at 203-879-8100.  
 
For more information on the Elderly and Totally Disabled Homeowner's Circuit Breaker Program, click here.
 
For more information on Veteran's Exemptions, click here.
 
16. Is there anything I can do to help during the Revaluation?
 
COOPERATE: A Revaluation is only as good as the information it is based upon. When the Data Collectors come to inspect your property, please let them in after they have been properly identified. Each person working for the revaluation will have been issued a photo ID card and will be registered with the Wolcott Police Department. A true and complete description of your property will result in an accurate assessment.
 
BE REASONABLE: All our efforts are made to be fair and equitable. Connecticut State Statutes requires this Revaluation. Most communities if they had an option would choose not to revalue, but, it is the law. We will make every possible effort to conform to the requirement of the laws and to treat all property owners with fairness and equality.
 
QUESTION SINCERELY: If you understand and are satisfied with the results of the Revaluation, please allow other people the time they may need to get their questions answered
 
AFTER REVALUATION: Stay involved and informed by attending the Town Council Meetings that will set the mill rate which will determine the taxes you must pay. You can also watch the Town Council Meetings on the Town of Wolcott local cable station. Taxes are driven by municipal spending, not by your assessment. It is the need to generate revenue to pay for the cost of providing Town services, including education, that controls the mill rate and your taxes.

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