BERLIN — The city is undergoing another property revaluation and homeowners should expect to see their assessments almost double but that does not mean, however, that their tax bills will almost double. If the city’s budget stays the same, the tax rate will drop and homeowners will end up paying about the same tax bill.

The real estate market in New Hampshire and in Berlin has seen unprecedented increases over the past two years said Monica Hurley, of Corcoran Consulting Associates.

Hurley, whose Wolfeboro firm is doing the revaluation, said COVID-19 caused prices for residential property to soar, with many buyers looking for more rural, open spaces for outdoor activities. She said Berlin also has had an influx of ATV enthusiasts buying second homes because they like to ride here.

Hurley said between 2020 and 2022, the median sale price of a single-family home in Berlin increased 81 percent, from $82,500 to $149,800. She said for a two-family home the increase is 120 percent, from $50,000 to $110,000, and a three-family home increased 88 percent, from $70,500 to $132,800.

Hurley stressed the hot real estate market is statewide and said a recent article on Realtor.com ranked Manchester and Concord as the hottest real estate market in the country for the month of April.

After the 2020 revaluation, Hurley said the state Department of Revenue Administration set the city’s overall assessment to sale ratio at 97.7 percent — meaning that new assessments were within range of the goal of 100 percent. By the end of 2021, the assessment to sales ratio had plummeted to 58 percent and by the end of March the ratio was down to 53 percent.

“This indicated that assessments only reflected 47 percent of market value when compared to qualified sales,” Hurley said.

So, the new revaluation will bring assessed values up to full market value as of April 1.

Corcoran has four appraisers in the field, reviewing all 4,800 residential properties in the city. Hurley said the assessors will be in cars clearly marked as Corcoran Consulting. She said the assessors will look at the grade and condition of each house and check sales in the neighborhood. Most will be exterior reviews but she said they try to do interior reviews of about a quarter of the housing stock each cycle.

At the end of July, Hurley said her firm will present the new values to the city council. If the council approves them, she said the new assessments will be mailed out to property owners in mid-August. The notices will include a phone number to call to set up an informal hearing in city hall.

“When people look at their revaluations, there is going to be some sticker shock,” predicted Hurley.

She said homeowners need to ask themselves what they could realistically sell their house for and see if their new assessment is within 10 to 15 percent of that asking price.

The firm will schedule two weeks for informal reviews with homeowners who disagree with their new value. At that time, homeowners should present documentation to make their case, including comparable property values of similar homes or market appraisals with the last six months. Corcoran will review the data presented by the homeowner and send out a second notice with their decision.

After tax bills go out in the fall, taxpayers still unhappy with their assessment can file for an abatement with the city.

If the abatement is rejected, homeowners can appeal to either the N.H. Board of Tax and Land Appeals or file suit with Superior Court.

The state requires communities to do a revaluation every five years. Berlin did one in 2020 but agreed with the N.H. Board of Tax and Land Appeals to do one in 2022 after the state board ruled the Berlin board of assessors had acted improperly in approving abatements for each other and a family member. The abatements were rescinded and Mayor Paul Grenier asked all three members to resign in March 2021. A new board has not been appointed and the city council is acting in that capacity.

(1) comment

elainem

After reading this article on sticker shock for the coming revaluation of Berlin properties I admittedly feel a scurry of emotions for long term residents of Berlin.

I myself am from Massachusetts but I have been a landlord in Berlin for over twenty years and own multiple single family units which are rented to native Berlin residents at affordable prices. My tenants have lived in the units for 10+ years.

Rising property values will not only drive locals out of Berlin but the dynamic of the town will also change.

Berlin had one of the smallest graduation classes of all time because the property owners do not live here. Hence their children do not go to school here.

Cannot see how the school budget will increase if the need is diminishing.

Hopefully the city does the right thing and realizes that rising taxes mean unaffordable rents.

What will happen to the rental market here? Well. In time it will become like other areas that tax locals out of their houses.

It is nice to hear your property is becoming more valuable but that is only good news if you are selling it to vacationers.

Elaine Morris

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