Real Estate Values

 

DETERMINING VALUE

Real and Personal Property

There is a physical distinction to be made to determine whether property is Real or Personal.

Real Estate is the physical land and appurtenances, including structures affixed thereto in addition to the interest, benefits and rights inherent in the ownership of real property known as the bundle of rights.

Personal Property is generally those items not permanenty affixed to real estate. Personal property is movable and can be removed without serious damage to either the real estate or the item being removed. The three categories of taxable personal property are:

  • Business and professional furnishings
  • Household furnishings, in property other than a principal residence
  • Personal property of public utilities.

WHAT IS THE VALUATION CRITERIA?

The DOR requires communities to value all property each year.  Every third year is a complete re-certification.  Both a re-certification and an interim year adjustment (the two years in between the triennial re-certification) include a detailed analysis of the appropriate sales data as a basis for adjusting the property values.  The goal is to keep the values as close as possible to 100% of market value and avoid an excessive swing in the assessments in one year.  A re-certification year includes intense examination by the DOR of all the community’s assessment policies and procedures.  Fiscal Year 2016 is a re-certification year in Boxborough.  Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 will be interim years, and then Fiscal Year 2019 will be the next re-certification year.

WHAT CHANGES ARE MADE EACH YEAR?

Many of the changes are explained below as each section of the property record card is explained. The CAMA (Computer Aided Mass Appraisal) system is used to calculate the values.  CAMA tables with the factors used to calculate the values are updated each year based on the sales analysis.  The factors are adjusted so that the median assessment to sale price ratio is within 10% of 100% of fair market value of the sample.  The computer model created is then applied to all the properties in town to arrive at a new value for each property.  Changes are typically made to costs-per-square-foot for different building styles and land values for different neighborhoods.

WHY DO DIFFERENT PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS GO UP (OR DOWN) IN DIFFERENT PROPORTIONS?

The characteristics of your property will determine how the adjustments to the factors will affect your valuation.  Items such as location, style, size, quality of construction, age and condition of the house, and lot size of the properties that were sold in the applicable calendar year are analyzed to derive multipliers which are then applied to all properties town-wide.  The relative importance of these characteristics in the marketplace determines whether an owner’s valuation changes.

A field review is done to check the application of these characteristics for consistency and uniformity.  Properties with renovations or new construction between July 1st and June 30th will usually show an increase in their valuation.

WHEN MY NEIGHBOR’S HOUSE SELLS, WILL THEIR PRICE DETERMINE MY ASSESSMENT?

A single sale does not establish the market value of all the properties in that area.  It is only by examining ALL of the arms-length sales (a willing buyer and a willing seller acting in an informed manner in the open market) that the Assessor can begin to discern the characteristics of the market.  If the sale of your neighbor’s property is an arms-length sale and if it occurred in the appropriate year, it will be included in the analysis of all sales town-wide and will be part of the data that determines the multipliers to be used to arrive at the new valuations.

HOW WILL THIS NEW VALUATION AFFECT MY TAX BILL?

The total tax levy is the amount required to fund the budget approved at the Annual Town Meeting.  The levy is what determines the tax rate each year. The Assessor does not determine how much the Town will spend for the many services it provides, but apportions the share of these costs fairly among all property owners in town.

The actual tax rate is set after the values are finalized and certified by the DOR, and the Selectmen vote on the classification of the rate.  The rate calculation is then approved by the DOR and bills are issued reflecting the new values and rate.  The value and rate certification usually take place in October and November each year, after the first two quarterly bills for the fiscal year have been issued.  The new valuations and rate form the basis for the third and fourth quarter bills, which take into account preliminary payments already made in August and November.  The remaining amount due is split between the actual bills, which are due in February and May.

HOW CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?

Detailed information is also available on this site.  Additionally, there is a computer terminal in the Assessor’s office from which you can obtain copies of property cards.  Maps reflecting assessment information are also available.  These are computerized in the Geographical Information System (GIS) and they are available on the Town’s website by clicking on the WebGIS link on the top banner.  Through this link, parties can obtain a property record card as well.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DISAGREE WITH MY ASSESSMENT?

If you disagree with your assessment after receiving your third quarter tax bill, you may file an abatement application with the Assessor.  Forms are available at the Assessing Office and on the Town’s website.   By law all abatement applications must be received in the Assessing Office no later than the third quarter payment due date, usually on or about February 1st each year, or postmarked by that same date.  Applications received, or postmarked, after that date cannot by law be considered by the Assessor.