Revaluation has varying impact on borough homes

NAUGATUCK — The borough’s recent revaluation had a wide-ranging impact on homeowners.

The state requires municipalities to perform a full property revaluation every 10 years to assess the market values of real estate for tax purposes, and a less-intensive revaluation every five years. Municipal Valuation Services, LLC completed a full revaluation in the borough last year.

Property values increased an average of 6.5 percent following the revaluation, though the average varied depending on the type of home.

According to information provided by the Assessor’s Office, the values of single family homes, which make up the majority of homes in the borough, increased by an average of about 4.7 percent. The values of properties classified as “two and three-family homes” and “multi-family homes” went up by an average of 11.1 and 10.8 percent, respectively. The values of condominiums increased by an average of 9 percent.

Those numbers are the averages, and there are outliers on either side, including John Rao’s condo at the Lantern Park Condominiums.

The assessment of Rao’s condo increased by about $20,500, or 64.5 percent, to $57,610.

“I know blind people who could have done it better,” said the 74-year-old Rao of the revaluation.

Rao said he did not know why his or his neighbors’ condos increased so dramatically.

Assessor Carol Ann Tyler said the increase stems from condos at Lantern Park being undervalued during the last revaluation.

“I can’t tell you what [the previous revaluation company was] thinking. It really stood out how low those prices were the last reval,” Tyler said.

Tyler said condos, as well as single family and multi-family homes, are appraised on fair market value, meaning the selling price of similar homes.

Tyler said Municipal Valuation Services looked at sales throughout the borough between February 2017 and September 2018.

According to information from her office, 19 condos sold in Lantern Park Condominiums during that time. The prices ranged from $45,000 to $90,000, with the majority closer to the higher end of the price range.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said he feels the recent assessment is much closer to representing what the condos are really worth.

“This revaluation is by no means perfect, but it is much closer to reality,” Hess said.

When a revaluation takes place, Hess said, the goal is to have homes move more toward what they are really worth. This could mean properties that were overvalued come down in price while properties that were undervalued see a steep increase.

“Anytime a town has a revaluation done, there are winners and losers,” Hess said. “I think it is important to be accurate and get as close to market value everywhere we can, so that everyone is paying their fair share and no one undervalued or overvalued. That’s the objective of the revaluation.”

Rao, who has lived in his condo since 1985, said he’s concerned with the different prices condos were valued at throughout the condo complex. While there are over 300 units in the complex, the condos are built to a certain footprint, and are either a two-bedroom or three-bedroom, he said.

Rao said condos that are approximately the same size and have the same number of bedrooms should be valued the same. He pointed to units in the condo complex that were a similar size and same number of bedrooms, but have different values after the revaluation.

“They should all be the same,” Rao said. “None of these are adding up.”

Tyler said the some of the differences in the assessments stem from people who bought the condos when they were at a low price and completely remodeled them. Some of the units also have added items, such as a porch, which increases the value, she said.

Rao said he feels it’s unfair that his taxes will go up since the condo complex pays for its own trash disposal and road plowing.

Rao said he pays about $2,400 in taxes and expects his tax bill to rise to over $3,000 in the coming fiscal year.

“The town gives us nothing but takes our money. This is unfair,” Rao said. “That is a lot of money for anybody, especially when we don’t get any services.”

Rao said he has applied for to appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals and will have his case heard this month.

“All we are asking for is fairness. And this is not fair,” Rao said. “There is no way in hell they can justify what they did.”

According to Tyler, over 170 people have applied for an appeals hearing.

Hess said he feels the revaluation was fair, but understands why people would want to appeal.

“I believe this revaluation brings us closer to fair market values and reality than the last one. But it is not perfect, there are some outliers. People have the right to make a case and pursue an appeal,” Hess said.