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The cities and town of Rhode Island have continued to grow. Since an increase in population, translates into an increase in the demand for housing and other municipal paid services such as, schools, police, fire, waste disposal, and snow removal it is essential that property values be kept correct. The State of Rhode Island requires that cities and town perform a Revaluation so that all properties can be brought to current market value and contribute an equitable portion of the total tax burden.
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A Revaluation is the process of conducting the Data Collection and Market Analysis necessary to equalize the values of all properties within a municipality for the purpose of a fair distribution of the tax burden.
A physical inspection of both the interior and exterior of each property is conducted, where building dimensions and characteristics are noted. This is the Data Collection phase of the project. Each Data Collector carries an identification badge, a letter of introduction on Town letterhead and their cars are registered with the Police Department and Assessors Office. While the Data Collection phase is going on, Appraisers are studying the sales and determining where the actual increases and decreases in value are occurring. This study of recent property sales allows comparisons to be made and Appraisers to establish parameters to estimate the value of property that has not been sold.
The Appraisers then review the collected data and apply the determining factors of the sales analysis to come up with a value of each property. Each property owner receives an individual notice of the new assessment. Property owners can also review the entire public assessed values, so that the property owner can see what the values are around his/her property. All property owners are given the opportunity to discuss their values with the Appraisal Staff at an appointed time, which will be publicly announced (Hearings) towards the end of the Revaluation.
At a hearing the property owner can voice concerns, discuss inaccuracies or discrepancies with a qualified Appraiser who will review the property record card and explain the value. Should an inspection or re-valuation need to be done the Appraiser will make that determination, and any changes that result will be sent to the property owner.
Towards the end of the Revaluation, every homeowner receives a notice of their proposed valuation based on the analysis performed. These values are not final. When a homeowner has a question or concern about the proposed valuation, they are asked to call the firm and a date and time to meet will be set to discuss the valuation process and answer any questions the homeowner may have.
An informal hearing is not a forum to discuss taxes, it is strictly meant to answer questions on the property valuations. Homeowners are asked to come prepared with questions and have compared their property to other comparable ones in their neighborhood. A Hearing Officer will determine if a review of the property is necessary. All changes to value that occur due to a hearing will be reflected in the change notice that is sent after hearings are complete.
If any property-owner believes the assessment on their property is in excess of its Fair Market Value, they may appeal to the Tax Assessor and if still aggrieved may appeal to the Municipality’s Assessment Board of Review. The Assessment Board of Review will review the case make a determination as to the disposition of the appeal. Should the property-owner still feel the assessment is incorrect, they may appeal to the Superior Court for the judicial district in which the town is located.
Market Value is determined by people, by the activity in the Real Estate Market and the general economy. The value of your property is based on an analysis of the entire market prior to the completion of the Revaluation Project. The market can generally be defined as, you, the person who sold the property to you, and the person willing to buy it from you. It is the Appraisers job to research and analyze the values in any particular area or neighborhood. In effect, they do what you would do to determine the selling price when putting your property up for sale. Only the appraiser has specific guidelines to follow. Factors that are examined for each property are: location, size, quality of construction, age of improvements, topography, utilities, zoning restrictions, if any, etc.
Each person employed on this project are certified by passing the International Association of Assessing Officer’s (IAAO) qualification testing. Each has met the educational and experience requirements defined in the 3 levels of appraisal personnel and the general requirements:
Since the last Revaluation, Real Estate Values have changed significantly. Over the same period, building construction costs have increased at a much slower rate. Since building costs have not increased as much as total values, the bulk of the total increase is attributable to land. This makes perfect economic sense, as it is land that is in limited supply.
Although a Revaluation may result in an increase of nearly each individual assessment, it does not mean that all property taxes will increase. You may be saying “SURE!” but remember assessments are only the base that is used to determine the Tax Burden. The Tax Burden is the amount that the Municipality must raise to operate the local government and support the many services each of us has come to expect, such as schools, police, etc. If the same amount of money is to be raised after the Revaluation as the previous year and each assessment doubles, the tax rate would merely be cut in half.