BEACON FALLS — A second look at the assessments of one neighborhood whose property values shot up in the last revaluation came back with similar results, according to town Assessor June Chadderton.
The town hired Baron Appraisal about six weeks ago in response to concerns from Chatfield Farms residents about the process that was used for the revaluation.
The values of most other properties in town declined between 2010 and 2016, causing the town’s grand list to drop. The mill rate increase to make up for the drop in the grand list and town and school spending coupled with the increase in values for the 55-and-older residents of Chatfield Farms meant their taxes skyrocketed by thousands of dollars this year.
The roughly $5,000 in funding for the second look came from money left over from the original revaluation budget, First Selectman Christopher Bielik said.
The revaluation completed by Appraisal Resource Group last year did not physically inspect properties, but Baron Appraisal did an in-depth review of properties at Chatfield Farms.
Chadderton said that only a couple of properties had minor adjustments to their values after Baron Appraisal’s evaluation.
“They felt that the assessments that the first revaluation company did were fair and accurate,” Chadderton said.
She said she was in the process of going through the property cards last week and would notify owners of any changes.
Chatfield Farms resident Ted Goodman said the new appraisers looked at his home from the outside, but he, like many of his neighbors, didn’t allow them inside or answer any questions.
He said the problem is not the evaluation of the Chatfield Farms homes.
“The issue is that Chatfield Farms was removed from the Beacon Falls revaluation calculation and we were not included in the overall revaluation of the town,” Goodman said.
Chadderton said Goodman may be referring to the unsold test, which is done to determine if unsold properties in town were appraised in the same manner as the ones that were sold during that period of time.
“Chatfield wouldn’t be included in that because of the revitalization of the complex by the new owner,” Chadderton said.
During the last full physical revaluation in 2010, the then-developer of Chatfield Farms, Wyndham Homes, was in bankruptcy, the neighborhood was incomplete, the development was in litigation and had liens against it. In 2013, EG Home purchased the development and completed public improvements. The increase in property values since then reflects sales and the progress on the new buildings, Chadderton said.
While Chatfield Farms was booming, the recession hit the rest of the town. Foreclosures and short sales went up, flooding the market with low-priced homes and bringing values down. Last year, the town saw 55 foreclosures, up from 36 in 2015.
Goodman said he still questions why values went down in the rest of the town while the roughly 120 homes in Chatfield Farms went up. He said the town should have taken a second look at all the properties in Beacon Falls, not just Chatfield Farms. Goodman said nine homes in his neighborhood sold in the last 10 years, with an average loss of $100,000 or more from the original purchase price.
A home at 7 Dogwood Lane sold for $430,000 in 2015, but the town appraised it at only $326,000. This year, the appraisal jumped to $407,000. The difference means the homeowners’ taxes went from $7,520 to $10,239.
“I don’t want to be told that because of the market price for these homes that we’re sitting with better value than someone with a similar home,” Goodman said.
Chatfield Farms resident Harry Roscoe said his neighborhood’s homes were overvalued.
“The whole point of this is how we were treated against the rest of the community. We were treated as a separate entity and that’s what’s causing the problem,” Roscoe said. “If you tried to get a refinance on your house, it doesn’t come in anywhere near what these assessments were, so there’s a great disparity.”
Chadderton said the values of homes in Chatfield Farms were assessed the same way as homes all across town.