Assessments in, values drop

TEMPLE — Field assessments for the town’s revaluation have been completed, and Temple residents who disagree with their new assessment will have the chance to challenge it in early August.

During their regular meeting Tuesday, Select Board members met with Mark Stetson of Avitar Associates of New England, the town’s assessor, to discuss his findings after completing the town’s field assessment for the year. Stetson told the board the area should see an overall drop in assessed value, with land values not changing much, and the value of buildings and homes dropping slightly. Stetson told the board that overall, he would expect the majority of properties to see a decrease in assessed value by an average of 7 percent.

Those who wish to contest their new assessed value may do so in public hearings held on Aug. 7 and 8. Appointments must be made for hearings on those dates. Residents should check a notice that Avitar was expecting to send out last week for a date and time to call to schedule a hearing. Stetson noted that number will not be available outside of that time frame, and encouraged residents to read their notices carefully. Hearings for residents of Sharon will also be held during Aug. 7 and 8. Because values are down, said Stetson, he anticipates the number of hearings to be relatively low this year.

Stetson told the board some properties may see changes in their assessed value based on new criteria taken into account by Avitar. Among those changes are assessing the property’s driveway and surrounding road surfaces, topography and land site conditions. For example, a house on top of a hill might have a higher value than one built in a valley. Also, he said, the criteria for view has been quantified to take into account the width and height of the view, subject matter and distance of sight.

The housing market in Temple has begun to see some new life in the housing market, said Stetson, with 15 home sales in town in the last year. Several of those were in the last few months, showing a possible recent uptick in the housing market, he said. Most of those sales had been within the new assessed values. Sharon has also seen similar patterns, although Greenfield, which also uses Avitar for assessments, has been more sluggish.

Select Board chair Gail Cromwell asked how extensive the review of the town’s properties had been. Stetson said that Avitar assessors had pulled into every driveway to check that the past assessments were still applicable, and had entered properties where possible. Every property where it had been allowed had been checked more extensively within the last five years, he noted.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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