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Warwick Beacon: Reval reflects hot housing market

Lower priced homes have greatest increase in value


The home real estate market has been on an upward swing in the past three years, with median prices rising and houses being bought within days of them going on the market. Inventory is down. It’s a seller’s market.

It’s no wonder to Dean deTonnancourt, of Homesmart and president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, that some Warwick property owners who haven’t been watching the market should be shocked by the latest property assessment. Valuations as determined by the recently completed statistical valuation as of Dec. 31, 2018 were mailed last week and posted to the city’s website on Friday.

A random survey using the city website found only a few properties – usually homes in the $500,000 range and above – with minimal increases, while homes valued in the range of $180,000 to $225,000 as of 2015 seeing increases as high as 32 percent.

This is no surprise to deTonnancourt, who points out that sector of the market has been especially hot. Furthermore, as current sales are used as a guide to values in a statistical revaluation, it stands to reason that neighborhoods with the greater sales would reflect the most change.

According to City Tax Assessor Neal Dupuis, hearings for those questioning their valuations held by Vision Government Solutions, that conducted the revaluation, should be completed this month, but depending on the volume could extend into May.

“Assessments are intended to reflect market value [what a property could be sold for]. So people that schedule appointments will be asked what they feel their house is worth and if they have any information (such as an appraisal or market analysis) to support their opinion. However, property owners do not need to have any documentation in order to schedule a meeting and discuss their proposed assessment with a representative of the revaluation company,” Dupuis said in an email.

Hearings may be scheduled by calling Vision Government Solutions at 888-844-4300. Hearings will be held between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the now closed Randall Holden School at 61 Hoxsie Avenue. The deadline for scheduling a hearing is April 16.

“Revaluations are performed using only current market data. We do not start with the old assessments and apply an adjustment to reflect what the market has done over the last three years,” Dupuis said. “A percentage change from a prior assessments is not a meaningful way to determine the accuracy of a new assessment. Therefore, we do not work with these figures. What is important is what the property is currently worth. If that figure is correct, it does not matter whether the assessment went up down or sideways from the prior assessment.”

DeTonnancourt cautioned property owners not to look at average increases. He said that could be useful in parts of the country where houses are identical, but “there’s no such thing as an average priced house in Rhode Island.”

As for what the market has done over the past three years, deTonnancourt said median single-family home prices have consistently increased, citing a 20 percent median price increase in West Warwick. He said some of the greatest increases have been in multi-family housing, where the median price increased by 24 percent in a single year.

DeTonnancourt cautioned property owners not to confuse an increase in assessment with an increase in taxes. A 15 percent increase in valuation, for example, does not translate into a 15 percent increase in taxes. Customarily, the tax rate declines following a revaluation, however, because assessments are generally higher the actual tax bill is greater.

“Taxpayers’ values will increase, but they’re not going to see taxes go up proportionally,” he said.

Revaluations are mandated by state law. Full revaluations where each property is visited and appraised are to be conducted every nine years. Statistical revaluations where recent sales are used to establish assessments are conducted on the third and sixth year in the nine-year cycle.

Vision Government Solutions conducted the revaluation at a cost of $275,000. As the State of Rhode Island mandates that statistical revaluations be performed, they reimburse the city at 60 percent of the project cost. So the net cost to the city is $110,000, said Dupuis.

Courtesy of Warwick Beacon 

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