Torrington Property Values

Torrington Zillow Home Value Index

Torrington home values are showing signs of life and over the past 12-16 months have actually increased slightly. The analysis for this comes from several sources and although the data is not 100% favorable with some bumps and blips, the overall trend appears positive. In estimating value and trends several sources were considered, Zillow, Berkshire Hathaway, and individual research from the local MLS by this writer.

Zillow maintains a Home Value Index. This index is based upon approximating an “ideal” home price index  which  “Instead of actual sale prices on every home, the index is created from estimated sale prices on every home.” This is supposed to eliminate market fluctuations from a market with high end or low end properties dominating sales in a month or quarter.

Berkshire Hathaway provides running totals of median sales prices and there relationship to past quarters based upon MLS data.

In addition, I have analyzed the local MLS for trends in listing prices, sales prices, marketing times and properties on the market. This analysis is what is now required for appraisals in all federally regulated mortgages and is called the Fannie Mae Market Conditions Calculator. Finally I also did a matching pairs analysis of properties that sold within the past year, and have had a prior sale within the past five years.

First lets look at the Zillow numbers. They show that from November 2012 to November 2013 (the most recent reporting period) property values in Torrington increased by 2.4% and a total of 2.9% from the low point of September 2012 to a median price of $140,600. That increase however was earned prior to the last quarter which found values flat with no increase.

The Berkshire Hathaway data is somewhat more limited and just reports the last quarter change. This report shows the median to be $141,400 but that the values actually dipped 2.9% from the previous quarter. Such fluctuations can reflect seasonal differences and it is usually better to compare year to year.

The Fannie Mae Conditions calculator seems to support part of each analysis. It shows the median sales price for the last three months was $139,950. This was down 6.6% from the prior quarter, but still was a 1.6% increase from the prior six months median. This shows an overall slight increase from a year prior although somewhat less then the 2.4% indicated by Zillow.

fannie mae calculator for torrington

The matching pairs analysis also seemed to indicate an overall increase. There were 9 resales that did not involve foreclosure sales in either of the two transactions. The difference between sales ranged from 10 to 48 months. There were five sales that declined in value from the previous sale, four of them had at least 40 months between the previous sale and the more current one. Three of the four sales that had increase values were under 33 months. The overall indication is that the more recent sales with a previous sale date closer to the present showed increasing values, while the older ones still suffered from the declining values of the previous market. These comparables supported the values still increasing with a range of 1.5% to 6.6% per year increase.

Overall indications are that the Torrington market is slowly moving upward with some seasonal stumbles in the process. The value increase looks to be below 3% annually and does not show signs of faster increases yet.


Town Links Updated

To start the new year we have updated all the links on our site for Connecticut’s 169 towns. We have found several factors that had resulted in many changes on our posted links and we wanted to make sure you have the best information available. Revaluations result in new town associations with their prior valuation companies and we have made sure any that changed links due to revaluation company switches have been addressed. Even towns that didn’t go through revaluation found the links to the Assessor online records changed as two of the major revaluation companies in Connecticut, EquityCama and Vision Appraisal, have changed their location for the online records. There may be some reasoning in how they moved some towns and not others to their new web addresses, but in our research we couldn’t find it. No matter what the reason or whether they changed to the new domains or not, we have made sure you have the most updated links.

Assessor’s records were not the only significant changes that we found. More Connecticut communities are developing their own GIS (Geographic Information Systems), while others have joined regional systems, so we are pleased to have updated to the most comprehensive GIS records for Connecticut town. If no other GIS was found we linked it to the University of Connecticut GIS Maps, which do not usually go down to the individual lot lines like most individual town GIS do, but does have some valuable information attached to them. In some cases towns have their own GIS and also are members of a regional GIS. Whenever possible we have linked to both of them, to give users a choice of options.

Zoning regulations were another link that we found to have several changes, with updated zoning regulations often given a different link tied to their date. You will also find added information on Town Clerk data. There are two main sites that connect with the town clerks offices in Connecticut and provide for online land record look ups and individual deed views for a fee. This information was provided for each town that is connected with one of these two companies along with giving a link to the individual town clerk’s webpage.

The result of this effort is that you will find the most detailed and up to date Connecticut town hall information of any site out there. We are sure you will find this data useful and hope that you will share it with your associates and friends. If there is other information that you would like to see on our site, please feel free to email us with your suggestions. It is our goal to make this site the best available resource for Connecticut town hall information.


46 Towns Going Through Revaluation for 2013 Grand List

The five-year cycle of revaluations for Connecticut towns has found a larger percentage of revaluations then normal in 2013. Forty six towns are in the process of revaluation for the 2013 grand list (in comparison there were 39 revaluations in 2012). Litchfield County leads the way with 11 communities going through revaluation, followed by Hartford County with 9 towns.  Fairfield, New London and Windham Counties each have 5 towns going through revaluation, while Middlesex and New Haven County have 4 towns a piece.  Tolland County has the least number of towns with only 3 going through revaluation this year.

Although the State requires revaluations every 5 years, several towns exceeded that number. Six towns are revaluating after 6 years – Eastford, Guilford, Killingly, Madison, Middletown and Norwalk. Windham took even longer with their previous revaluation in 2005 meaning it has been 8 years between revaluations.

Revaluation Towns for 2013If the trend over the past few years continues, two things that will occur. People will be pleasantly surprised to see that their home assessments are lower than their previous one. That joy will wear off in  June when they find that mill rates have increased to offset the lower assessments meaning higher car taxes and still no decrease in property taxes. Towns that went through a revaluation in 2012 found their 2013 mill rate increased by an average of almost 5 mills. This is in sharp contrast to the towns that did not go through revaluation which found an average mill rate increase of  .62 mills.

The declining assessments due to the real estate markets fall can make it harder on homeowners to know if their new assessment is fair. In previous times a large increase would convince homeowners to view the assessment closely, looking for errors, and possible over assessment. However, with many owners seeing the assessment decline they may just accept it as a happy windfall, not realizing that their assessments accuracy is just as important as before. Since in all likelihood that lower assessment will be hit by a much higher mill rate, an unfair assessment may mean the homeowner gets penalized even more.

It is important for homeowners to look over the new assessment and make sure there are no factual errors. Revaluations may mistakenly add rooms, square footage or other physical errors, which result in inaccurate assessments.  Condition rankings may not accurately reflect the property, or other physical problems ignored. These are things that a homeowner can easily check on their own just by looking at the field card. However, other calculation errors may be harder to discover. A house may be inaccurately assessed versus comparable properties. Since the driving force between assessment valuation is that the properties must be value equity, if your property is “over valued” versus comparable houses in your market then you are paying an unfair tax burden.

It is important to look at the revaluation information as soon as you get it and if you think your assessment is wrong or otherwise inequitable then you need to deal with it immediately as appeals have to be filed by February 20th. After that time, even if  the assessment is obviously incorrect, nothing can be done until the following year. For more information on revaluations in a declining market and challenging your assessment please check out these articles.

Understanding Revaluation in a Declining Market
How to Challenge Your Revaluation
How To Appeal Your Assessment


All Connecticut Towns Tax Information Updated

CT money mapWe are pleased to announce that we have updated tax information for all 169 Connecticut towns for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Although we have checked on and updated all towns in Connecticut, there are still 6 towns working off the mill rate for last year. New budgets are due July 1st, but democracy is not always on time. Sometimes in Connecticut towns require the budget to be approved by the voters. This has resulted in some situations where budgets and new mill rates where not approved as of the deadline. Some towns have the approval from the voters, but still have a waiting period or recounts due to close votes. Others however, still have to vote, or are voting again after prior budgets having been rejected. When each of the remaining six towns have there mill rates approved we will update them.

Thirty six of Connecticut’s towns went through a revaluation for the October 1st 2012 grand list (that is the grand list used for the 2013-2014 fiscal year). Naugatuck does not have their mill rate set yet. However if you take a look at the remaining 35 towns that went through revaluation you will see how the declining property values over the previous five years has affected mill rates.  Of the 35 towns that went through revaluation only two had a mill rate increase of less then 1 mill (actually Orange beat the trend completely with a lower mill rate). Two more had a mill rate increase of between 1 and 2, and one  with a mill rate increase between 2 and 3 mills. The remaining 30 had mill rate increases above  3 mills. Waterbury won the mill rate increase prize for the highest increase with an increase of 15.1616. The only other town with an over 10 mill increase were Ansonia and Sterling.

The 127 towns that didn’t go through revaluation and have set there mill rate show a different tale when it comes to mill rates.  Two towns had a mill rate increase between 2 and 3. However that was the upper end of the mill rate range. Sixteen towns had mill rate increases between 1 and 2 mills. The vast majority of towns, 84 had a moderate mill rate increase of between 0 and 1 mills. Eleven towns were stable with no increase. That leaves 14 towns that had mill rates that actually went down.

Winners and losers in the mill rate lottery have to be divided into revaluation and none revaluation communities. As stated earlier the winner for the revaluation towns was Orange with a mill rate reduction of .7 mills. Waterbury was the overall loser with a mill rate increase of 15.1616. Weston was the non revaluation winner with a reduction of 1.03 mills. The loser was Norwalk which saw a 2.649 increase in the base mill rate.

Although State law mandates that revaluations are completed every five years, 7 towns have received to put off their revaluations for one year for longer. Windham wins the prize for the biggest procrastinator with it being 2 years beyond the mandate.



Litchfield County Towns Updated Tax Information

Litchfield County CTTwenty four of the twenty six Litchfield Counties has their new mill rates set for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Watertown’s budget passed by such a narrow margin that a recount is under way and provided that the preliminary count holds up their mill rate should be approved by next week. Woodbury on the other hand will have to wait longer as their vote for the new budget is not scheduled until the end of July. All tax information is available on our town web pages.

Six Litchfield County towns went through revaluation this year. As is the case with other Connecticut Counties, towns that went through revaluation found the highest increase in mill rates. There were a few exceptions to this, however. Canaan, Roxbury and Warren, despite going through revaluation only had mill rate increases of between .9 and 1.2 mills. The other three towns that went through revaluation, Goshen, North Canaan and Winchester had mill rate increases between 4 and 5.77 mills. These figures were more in line with other towns in the state which found mill rate increases of 4 to  over 15 mills.

The overall increase in mill rates for Litchfield was less then its surrounding county, with no none revaluation town increasing its mills above Torrington’s .99 increase. Cornwall and Morris’ mill rates actually declined, while Bethlehem, Bridgewater and Harwinton stayed stable.


Fairfield County Towns Updated Tax Information

Fairfield Counties 23 towns new fiscal year started July 1st. Unlike Hartford and New Haven Counties, all 23 communities have approved their budgets and have their mill rates in place. We have updated our records to show the new tax information

Since last year seven of the towns in Fairfield have gone through revaluation. As was the case with Hartford and New Haven Counties, towns that underwent revaluation had the highest mil rate increase in order to compensate for the declining values over the past five years and the resulting lower grand lists.  The increases ranged from 4.45 mills for Danbury, up to 8.82 mills for Newtown. The highest non revaluation increase was for Norwalk which saw a base increase of 2.649 mills. Two towns showed a decline in mill rates, Shelton’s declined .09 mills, while Weston’s mill rate went down 1.03 mills. Overall only two non revaluation towns had an increase over 1 mill, the aforementioned Norwalk and Monroe, which had a 1.15 mill increase.



New Haven County Towns Updated Tax Information

The updated tax information for the 27 towns in New Haven County is now available on our site. Trends that were seen in Hartford County mill rates were also found in New Haven County.

Like Hartford County, New Haven County has one town that has not yet approved its budget. Naugatuck went through a revaluation for the 2012 grand list and the voters appear to not be happy with the proposed mill rate for the new grand list as they have rejected it until this point. Another referendum vote on the budget is scheduled for July 9th.  As soon as a new mill rate is approved we will update Naugatuck’s tax information.

Five town’s went through revaluation in New Haven County, with the aforementioned Naugatuck one of those. Three of those towns, Ansonia, Orange and Waterbury, continued the trend of large mill rate increases for new revaluations. Waterbury’s was the highest increase with 15.1616 mill rate above the precious year. The third community, Orange, has actually bucked this trend with a .7 mill decline. The difference for Orange may be due to it taking an extra year to complete it’s most recent revaluation. Orange’s previous revaluation was 2006 so there was a six year interim between revaluations, versus the state required 5 year. More importantly, property values were still rising during the early part of that time frame. As a result, the new Orange revaluation does not show the kind of declines that it might have if the previous revaluation was a year later.

Derby was the only other town, besides Orange to see a decline in Mill Rate. East Haven had no increase in mill rate. Most towns that hadn’t gone through a revaluation last year showed small mill increases with four towns between 1 and 2 mills, and the rest below 1 mills.



Hartford County Towns Updated Tax Information

We have updated the tax data for all the towns in Hartford County including the new mill rates for fiscal year 2013-2014.  Nine of the counties 29 towns went through revaluation in 2012.

Some interesting trends could be seen with the Counties mill rates. Twenty eight of the towns have approved their budgets and new mill rates. As of July 4th, Windsor is the only town in Hartford County that has not approved their budget for the new fiscal year.  Another vote is scheduled for July 16th, and as soon as the mill rate is approved we will update it on our site.

Of those 28, three (Marlborough, Southington and West Hartford) actually had lower mill rates then the prior year. West Hartford was the declining mill rate winner with a decline of  .45 mills.

Hartford had the same mill rate as the previous year, but in their case that is someone deceiving. Unlike every other town in Connecticut, Hartford determines their assessed value at differing percentages for different types of properties. Despite a Connecticut state mandate that all properties be assessed at 70% of appraised value, Hartford actually has three different percentages for this calculation. Residential properties (single family and 1-4 unit dwellings) are assessed at 29.2% of the appraised value. This figure fluctuates every year, but does have limits on the percentage increase. Apartments are assessed at 55% of value, with the percentage phased in over 5 years until it meets the 70% state mandate. Commercial properties are assessed at the state required 70% of value. Since the assessment figures fluctuate every year the stable mill rate from last year to this year does not indicate a stable tax rate.

The highest increases in mill rate all came from the towns that are using the 2012 revaluation figures. Towns that underwent revaluation in 2012 had increases in mill rates from 2.17 to 7.49 mills. In comparison no town that had a revaluation prior to 2012 had a mill rate increase above 1.61 mills.  This was to be expected as the declining values over the previous 5 years resulted in lower grand lists for these towns, due to lower property values in 2012 versus the prior revaluation of 2007. Consequently the expenses of the town had to be recovered by raising the mill rates. Theoretically taxes on real estate are not necessarily higher despite the higher mill rate as they are applied to lower property values. So despite  mill rate increases as high as 7.49 (New Britain) one would have to look at the individual property assessed value to determine whether property taxes would increase.






New Fiscal Year for Connecticut Towns

Every year on July 1st towns in Connecticut start a new fiscal year. As part of that change towns adopt a new  budget based on the most recent grand list, which by state mandate is locked in as October 1st of the prior year (2012 for July 1st, 2013). Using that grand list a mill rate is set to generate taxes for the town. The result is that each year on July 1st each of the 169 towns in Connecticut implement a new mill rate.

Now although the new mill rate is supposed to be set as of July 1st, in reality that doesn’t always occur. Many towns require a vote from the citizenry on the budget and the resulting mill rate. Last year some towns had their budgets voted down several times and a finalized mill rate didn’t occur until months after the deadline. With the declining property values through 2012 resulting in lower grand lists and higher mill rates, combined with 39 towns having gone through revaluations for the newly implemented grand list, this year doesn’t seem to indicate that this will change.

Over the next week we will be canvasing each of the 169 towns in Connecticut to update the mill rates, fiscal years, most recent revaluation and next scheduled one. Some towns have had the new budget approved for some time. However, with the number of towns deciding at the last moment, or in the case of those that have had their budgets rejected by voters, after the last moment, we felt that waiting until now is the most prudent and efficient way to update this information.

Keep checking on our site over the next week to see the updated figures. You can check if the town you are looking for is updated, as we include the grand list that the mill rate is referencing. For July 1st of 2013, the updated mill rate will reference the grand list of 2012. If you see the grand list still reports 2011, it means either we haven’t updated the information yet or that the town has not approved it’s new budget and mill rate. By July 12th all towns should be updated, with a possible exception for a few small towns that have limited Assessor hours, and the towns that have not approved their new mill rate.



Despite Record Low Rates Many Still Paying Higher Interest

Interest this week for a 30 year mortgage is at 3.49%. Yet 69% of homeowners are paying interest rates of 5% or above, and a third of those are paying over 6%. that means that those currently paying between 5-6% are paying around $90 to $150 more per month for each $100,000 of their mortgage. And those paying above that 6% are paying even more.

interest rate chart
It is ironic that one of the main reasons why people are paying more than they could or should is that they can’t afford to pay less. Many that haven’t refinanced have been hurt by the current economy and may be unemployed, under employed, or in financial distress, making refinancing difficult, if not impossible. Others have found themselves underwater on their mortgages, resulting in their inability to get a loan.

But there is also a significant number of people who could be refinancing that aren’t. They have either not tried because they heard banks aren’t lending or have tried but run into loan officers that are just cherry picking the easy loans and may not bother with some more difficult refinance’s.

With loan volume picking up lenders and loan officers may be looking for higher mortgage loans that provide higher commissions and easier loans that take up less of their time so they can work on more loans quickly for more commissions. But just because a couple of loan officers say no doesn’t mean these borrowers should give up. Some loan officers are willing to work with homeowners and are getting their customers loans despite them being told no by others.

So if you are a homeowner with an interest rate over 5% it is worth your while to make the effort to refinance. After all most people can’t expect a $100 per month or more raise any time soon, so why not try to reduce the expenses to compensate.