All persons desiring to apply for an abatement of taxes for 2017 must file for abatement in writing with the Assessing department after they receive their final tax bill in November 2017 and by March 1, 2018. Click here to view or print the Abatement Application form.
Your assessment should reflect the approximate value for which you could sell your property (market value). If you believe your assessment is too high, you have the right to request a review of your assessment via an abatement application. The deadline to file is March 1st for each tax year (if March 1st falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the due date will be that following Monday).
Assessors do not determine your property taxes; the assessor’s job is to ensure that the taxes collected will be distributed fairly among all taxpayers. If you feel as though your assessment accurately reflects the market value of your property, but you still feel that your property taxes are rising unfairly, you may wish to address this matter with the taxing jurisdictions – school board, county, town council, state – imposing the various taxes in the community. The assessor cannot assist you with tax matters, but only with matters pertaining to the assessed value of your property.
To determine if your assessment is fair, you will first need to check your Property Record Card (PRC). This information can be viewed online at Vision Appraisal. The assessed value of your property and the assessor’s estimate of your property’s market value are listed there. Market value is generally defined as the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for a property in its present condition with neither buyer nor seller under pressure to act (such as career relocation, death of a family member, divorce, foreclosure, or other personal financial issues, etc.). You can calculate the assessor’s estimate of your property’s market value by dividing the assessed value by the equalization rate.
Review the information listed on your property record card to ensure that the information the Assessor’s Office has is accurate and up-to-date. Because the information about your property will be used to determine your assessment, it is in your best interest to make sure that your assessor’s data is correct for your property.
Next, develop your own estimate of the market value of your property. A number of factors may affect a residential property’s market value, including:
- External Characteristics – ‘Curb appeal,’ home condition, lot size, popularity of an architectural style of property, water/sewage systems, sidewalk, paved road, etc.
- Internal Characteristics – Size and number of rooms, construction quality, appliance condition, demonstrated ‘pride of ownership,’ heating type, energy efficiency, etc.
- Supply and Demand – The number of homes for sale versus the number of buyers; how quickly the homes in your area sell; and
- Location – desirability for a particularly school district, neighborhood, proximity to transportation and other services, etc.
The most common way to determine the market value of a residential property is to use the sales comparison approach. This is the primary method used by professional appraisers to determine the market value of residential properties. To determine an estimate of a property’s market value, arm’s length “comparable sales” are used (“arm’s length” refers to a market value sale between unrelated parties). By examining recent sales of at least three properties in a similar neighborhood that are comparable in building style, size, and construction, one can begin to get a good understanding of a residential property’s market value. However, it is important to consider the circumstances of such sales – perhaps the seller was desperate to “unload” the home, or the buyer paid much more than the asking price because there were other interested parties. Market value and sales price are not always the same.
Comparable sales should include characteristics similar to a given property, such as lot sizes, square footage, home style, age, and location of the home. A new three-bedroom Cape Cod house may not be comparable with an older three bedroom split-level ranch, even if they are on the same street. Since it may prove difficult to find an exact comparable sale, allowances must be made. To arrive at an estimated market value, dollar adjustments are made for differences between the property being valued (also known as the subject property) and the comparable properties that have sold.
Generally, if your full value assessment roughly reflects the amount for which you could sell your property, then your assessment is relatively fair. In NH a 10% +/- range from the amount is an acceptable level. If you feel as though your property’s assessment is too high, you should discuss this with the assessor. Often an informal discussion between a taxpayer and the assessor can result in a sharing of information beneficial to both parties. A site visit by the Assessor may be very helpful as well. If such a discussion does not result in a reduction in your assessment, and you still feel as though your assessment is too high, you have the right to a formal review of your assessment via an abatement application.