How to Challenge Your Revaluation

As we have mentioned in a previous article there are 39 towns in Connecticut that are currently going through revaluation. A sampling of the towns websites shows a wide range of information provided by the communities that are in the process, from a one line mention that their last revaluation was in 2007 and their next one is scheduled in 2012, to a very thorough explanation of what revaluation means, why they do it and how to appeal the assessment.

your house as seen byFor those of you that don’t have the advantage of a town that helps you with the process, we are  making this guide. It is important to note that some dates and procedures are locked in by State statute, while others are left up to the discrepancy of the town. We will try to highlight which is which.

Towns that have a revaluation for 2012 are well underway with the process by the writing of this article. Typically they will have started the process last year. There are two types of revaluation, the first is classified as measuring and listing, which is the more thorough of the two, with physical inspection of the properties. The other is more of a statistical update to correct inequities due to market changes.

The effective date of a grand list is set by State mandate as being locked in as of October 1st, so for 2012 revaluations, towns will have those values set by October 1, 2o12. At some point after that, usually some time in November the town’s assessors office will mail out to all property owners revaluation notices showing the new assessment for their properties based on the October 1st market value.

During that time most towns will give property owners their first opportunity to appeal the new assessment. Taxpayers can set up an informal hearing either with the revaluation company or the assessor’s office (the letters should include how to appeal the assessment).

Here is the Cromwell Assessor’s office website detailing their procedures for appeal. Keep in mind that the initial part of the appeal may vary from town to town.

If you believe your appraisal is in excess of fair market value, the first step is to contact the Revaluation Company (following the instruction on your notice) for an informal hearing. This is the proper time and place to correct any clerical errors and/or miscalculations. A member of the Revaluation company staff will review the data that is pertinent to your property. If an error has been made which affect the value of your property adjustment will be made. If there’s a significant difference between the data on your property card then the revaluation personnel will schedule another inspection and review your property to insure accuracy. There are 3 steps available to all property owners who wish to appeal:

  1. An informal hearing with the Revaluation Company. Afterwards, you could request a meeting with the Assessor to review your information.
  2. A formal hearing with the Board of Assessment Appeal. Any evidence you may have that may affect your assessment should be present. The board can either reduce or increase your value based on the evidence provided.
  3. If a disagreement remains as to the appraised value. Then an appeal to the court under section 12-117a is next. Step two must have been taken to file an appeal in court.

Steps 2 and 3 are the same for all appeal procedures and will be discussed in more detail in a later article.

Since the first meeting is an informal hearing and you have a very limited time to prepare, this typically deals with any physical or math calculation errors. An example is if the assessment information has the house listed as having two bathrooms, but there is only one. These are easily verified and corrected. A Connecticut assessor took a survey of homeowners and found that 5% of the responses indicated their town’s revaluation information contained this type of error. One can still try to challenge other areas of the assessment during this meeting, such as providing comparables that you feel are more appropriate that would indicate a lower value. However, such changes require more documentation and may have more success at the formal hearings.

The informal hearing is a good way to address changes in your assessment before the grand list is actually certified, at which point the process is well on its way and the more formal procedure takes over. So if you are in a town that is going through a revaluation this year start looking for those notifications from the town and look it over carefully, it could save you a lot of money over the next five years.

(Our next article will go into more detail about the formal hearing process that is used for all assessment appeals whether during a revaluation year or not).

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