By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Every five years, the city of Bristol conducts a revaluation of real estate values for all commercial and residential properties.
A revaluation process aims to determine accurate and equitable values for all properties within a municipality, and ensures that assessed values reflect the changes in the real estate market.
Real estate is one component of the Grand List, which also measures the net assessment for property in the areas of motor vehicle and personal property.
The revaluation process began in spring 2016, and continued until September 2017.
Although the assessor’s office conducted the majority of the work involved with the revaluation, the city also worked with Fairfield-based consultant Municipal Valuation Services, LLC during the process.
The first phase involves a data collection process in which property owners are responsible for reporting any property additions or changes to the assessor’s office. During phase two, a variety of resources are used to analyze the real estate market before the appraiser determines land values and sets neighborhood site indexes.
The third phase is the valuation process, which the assessor’s office conducts using the market value approach. Determined by activity in the real estate market and the general economy, market value is defined as the amount that a typical, well-informed buyer would be willing to pay for a property.
As of last Thursday, the assessor’s office has sent out hearing notices to all commercial properties, including retail, light industrial and apartments as well as office condos, industrial condos and residential condos.
“About 4,000 notices have hit the mailboxes,” said City Assessor Tom DeNoto.
DeNoto said his office is still keeping a close eye on the residential market, which is experiencing a slight delay for the hearing notices. These notices are expected to be mailed out within the next two weeks.
“Even though we’re trying to peg the value as of Oct. 1, 2017, sales can come in through the end of the year,” said DeNoto. “Because we live in New England, we do have some seasonal adjusted sales. They may have some properties that were on the market since the spring, and they could have some offers that are standing in the wings that they’re waiting to make a decision on or they finally made a decision on it.”
One area where the assessor’s office continues to review property sales is the Cedar Lake properties, which have increased “quite a bit,” said DeNoto.
While the Pine Lake waterfront properties have seen a modest decline in values, overall, the value of all Bristol waterfront properties has seen about a $3.4 million increase, or roughly 12 percent. However, DeNoto cautioned that his initial review of the land values may need adjustment.
“That’s one of the holdbacks. We’re still looking at some of the sales that occurred up there,” said DeNoto.
With the exception of waterfront properties, detached residential properties have initially shown a decrease of about $6.1 million since the last revaluation, which took place in 2012, said DeNoto.
The condominium market also is currently showing a decline in values—by about $17.2 million, or roughly 6 percent, said DeNoto.
“The condominium market, unfortunately right now, is still on the down side,” said DeNoto.
However, the ongoing condominium project on Allentown Road is “performing very well,” added DeNoto.
“They’re getting values in the mid to upper $200,000 range,” said DeNoto.
On the commercial side, commercial condominiums, which are up roughly $1.8 million, and apartments are up roughly $19.3 million. The values of retail and industrial properties are seeing an increase of about $27.8 million.
All of the initial changes in real estate values that DeNoto reported, however, were based on gross values, since there are some exemptions have yet to be applied.
Towards the end of a revaluation, property owners receive a notice about their proposed valuation, and are asked to call the assessor to schedule an informal hearing. A hearing entails a brief discussion about the valuation process and a review of a particular property in question.
To date, the assessor’s office has conducted a couple of dozen hearings. Property owners in the apartment and commercial retail market make up the majority of these hearings.
Property owners who disagree with their assessment after a hearing can appeal before the Board of Assessment Appeals. The application deadline for an appeal is Feb. 20.
DeNoto said he plans to send out a final assessment notice before Dec. 31.
“There will be another valuation notice that will go out to all property owners within the city. If they still disagree with their valuation, the Board of Assessment Appeals will hear appeals in March,” said DeNoto.
DeNoto encouraged property owners to contact his office if they have any questions about the revaluation process.
“We’re here for the public. We’re here to make sure that they have an understanding of what goes into the value,” said DeNoto.
For more information, visit www.ci.bristol.ct.us/ or call the Assessor’s office at (860) 584-6240.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.