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The Tax Man Cometh...

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Posted 10-10-2010 at 07:35 PM by Roy Sanborn

There were 1246 residential homes for sale as of October 1, 2010 in the communities listed in this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. This total mirrors the tally from last October 1 at 1249. The average asking price of $569,141 is down from $604,125 last October as was the median asking price of $289,900 compared to $299,000. We dropped about a month’s worth of inventory and currently have about a 19.5 month’s supply compared to 20.5 months as of September 1.

If there is one job I wouldn’t want right now it would probably be working as an assessor for Vision Appraisal. That’s the company that determines the property values for tax purposes for many of the communities in NH. It has got to be a difficult job because the current real estate market produces such low number of sales for them to base their evaluations on and many of these sales are foreclosures. Everyone knows that home values are down and it’s their job to figure out where and by how much.

The City of Laconia is currently in the process of a city wide property revaluation which will take four years to complete. It’s obviously a big undertaking. No one really wants to see the value of their home go down. You can also be sure that absolutely no one wants to see their assessments go up when everyone else’s goes down! Judging from a few calls I have received, I suspect there are a number of property owners in Laconia that are pretty upset right now for that very reason.

A property owner in the Weirs Beach area called to tell me that the value on his property went from $209,100 to $350,300. This guys house was built in the late 1800’s and it is on a .09 acre lot. It is close to, but not on, the water and has no views whatsoever. He does, however, have a dock in the association dock area. The value on his home itself went from $109,200 down to $69,000 and an outbuilding went from $3,900 down to $3,100. But his land value went up from $66,000 to $188,200 and it appears that his dock went up in value from $30,000 to $90,000. I checked a few other properties in the same area and found those to have similar increases. One other property went from being assessed at $220,800 to $438,200 with an increase in the value of a .12 acre lot going from $71,600 to $231,500.

I received a follow up email from the owner of this property saying that he went to meet with Vision as did many of his neighbors. He was told that they had determined his value from two other sales in the area, one of which was a similar home that was apparently completely remodeled and much nicer than his. They assured him that they would send someone out to revisit it.

Another property owner near Governors Island also called. He has an older ranch on a .44 acre lot with 106 feet on the lake. His total assessment went up from $572,400 to $810,900. His home value went down from $199,800 to $128,400 but his land went up from $355,8600 to $657,800. Yes, it is waterfront, but not the most desirable around as far as waterfront lots go. This is kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears. Was he under-assessed before, over-assessed now, or it is just about right?

Vision Appraisal also had also just redone the assessments in Moultonborough and many waterfront owners were in an uproar there as well. I had a property for sale on the lake that went from an assessment of $1.056 million to $1.08 million down to $915,900 in very short order after meetings between property owners and the appraisal company.

So at least Vision is willing to listen to property owners and adjust where appropriate. Determining values on properties in today’s crazy market is not an easy job for assessors, appraisers, or real estate agents. It seemed like it was a lot easier, and more fun, when values were headed the other way…

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