Jump in Abatement Requests from Residents
"Location, location, location" and improving economy see values jump as have applications.
Five minutes before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the small waiting area in the Assessors' Office was crowded as several residents were scribbling in the final bits of information requested as everyone attempted to beat the 4 o'clock deadline to submit the form to challenge the valuation of their homes.
And the day was busy from the start as 160 residents and business owners filed with the town to have their fiscal year 2012 real estate valuations reexamined.
The number is about a 20 percent jump from last year when 130 took out applications, said Richard Simmons, the town's Assessing Administrator.
"We usually see a jump whenever taxes increased for most residents," said Simmons.
And this year, taxes for the vast majority of homeowners rose as a result of a tax rate increase of 11 cents to $13.35 per thousand, the addition of the Community Preservation Act surcharge that added an additional $100 on the average bill and an improving housing economy that saw values climb across the board.
"It's location, location, location," said Simmons, who said Belmont is a "very desirable place to own a house" due its closeness to Boston, lying on major transportation lines, its educational opportunities and open space.
For many applicates, the next step will be a visit from a representative of the Assessors' Office to inspect the building's interior.
Simmons said this past year, residents who have not had their homes examined recently were sent postcards requesting a quick inspection to allow his office to make an accurate valuation.
"If we did not get a chance to inspect the property, we have to assume that work has been done and that impacts the value we set," said Simmons.
For those filing at the last minute, it is a chance to see if the valuations on their homes – properties are valued as of Jan. 1, 2011 – will drop with additional information.
"I opened the bill last month and thought it was someone else's that I got by mistake," said a resident who took out an application.
"I hope they will see that my house is not as opulant as they say."