HOLYOKE – The state-mandated revaluation of all real estate, including residential and commercial industrial sites, is continuing.
The city employs Mayflower Valuation to check external and internal property reviews. While the past few years have been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the work has recently been halfway through, said city assessor Deborah Brunelle.
The reassessment process must be completed by 2025. The Internal Revenue Service requires municipalities to assess all buildings and update property record cards.
“We should be inspecting every property in the city every 10 years if we can,” Brunel said. “Most of the time we can’t get into a property so we do a visual inspection and leave a notice to contact us.”
A representative from the Mayflower will present identification, credentials and a letter explaining the purpose of the visit, Brunelle said. “They were very professional in their inspections,” she said.
On average, a home inspection takes only a few minutes. While property owners can deny access to inspectors, Brunelle said refusing could lead to inaccurate valuations and potentially higher tax bills.
“Everyone has to accept it. Some businesses are also preventing inspectors from entering,” she added. “It’s in everyone’s interest to let us check so we can fairly tax you on what you own.”
Inspectors check floors, kitchen countertops, bathroom finishes, fireplaces, electrical and plumbing, and heating types. The teams also measure the exterior of the home to see if a deck or pool has been installed.
“We can also capture new value, something that we don’t know about, because if people are going to take something from their home, they should get a building permit or a demo permit,” Brunelle said. “A lot of times, people don’t .”
If the property has deteriorated or lacked updates, changes in the condition of the home may result in a lower valuation.
Brunelle held an annual tax classification hearing last week, a must before the council sets its latest residential and business tax rates. She noted that home prices continue to climb, with sales prices often exceeding current assessments.
Single-family home prices have risen 20 percent over the past five years to an average of $219,000. “This year, they’re really up 7 percent,” Brunel said. “There’s been a surge. But what goes up ends up going down. We’re starting to see a slight dip in home sales.”
Multifamily homes and condominiums also rose sharply, leading to higher incomes. As a result, property owners may pay more in taxes by 2023.