EXETER — Several residents took to social media this week to express a sense of sticker shock over their property assessments following a recent town-wide revaluation.
Scott Marsh, assessor with Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI), told the Select Board June 17 that the town’s overall valuation increased 30% to $2.6 billion up from slightly more than $2 billion in 2018. Residential homes increased in value 20%, manufactured homes 50%, condominiums 33% and commercial properties increased by 27%.
Marsh said he believed the large spike in assessed value, especially in manufactured home parks, was due to their affordability.
Marsh said because in New Hampshire assessments are based solely on property value, the 50% spike in valuation was simply a reflection of the desirability of those types of properties. He reminded residents over the age of 65, if they meet certain income and asset limits, they are eligible for assessment exemptions through the town if they are not receiving them already.
“There is an affordability factor on the lower end of the market and there’s a lot bigger market for those types of homes,” Marsh said. “In New Hampshire assessments are based on the value of property regardless of economic positions. The purpose is to bring home values more in line with the current market value."
The new assessments were based off the previous two years worth of property sales in town, he said.
“The reason why we don’t look back further is the more time you go back from April 1 of this year, the more the real estate market has changed,” Marsh said.
Town Manager Russ Dean took it upon himself to respond to several residents’ concerns directly on social media, and reminded residents not to calculate their property tax bill with their new assessment using last year’s tax rate. He said the new tax rate set in the fall would be multiplied with the new valuation and may result in a property tax decrease for some residents with respect to the town portion of the bill. He said the value of his family's home jumped from $318,000 to $368,000.
Dean agreed with one user online who compared the revaluation to grading students on a curve, in saying if the next town budget stays relatively the same, then the tax rate would likely drop.
“We won’t know the final number until the tax rate gets set in the fall,” Dean said.
However, some residents would like to see additional clarification to explain the dramatic jump. Mark Story said last year the property value of his split ranch on Thelma Drive was finally assessed at the price he purchased his home for 18 years ago. However, following the revaluation this year he said the assessed value in his home shot up another $70,000.
“There needs to be town-wide clarification on what houses went up in value and what homes didn’t go up,” Story said. “I’m concerned who the tax burden is being shifted to.”
Residents wishing to appeal their property assessment still have time to contact MRI to set up an informal hearing. Hearings will take place at Town Hall from July 8-17. He said property owners can also submit necessary property information in writing and set up a phone hearing. So far, Marsh said fewer than 50 residents have contacted his office to appeal their assessment.
Marsh said during the June 17 Select Board meeting all hearings are required to be completed before Sept. 1 as that is the date the town is required to send all its property assessment values to the state. He said any appeal of assessed property values would require a formal abatement through the state after Sept. 1.