Unhappy with the new assessed value of your home?
Here's some good news: The new value has not yet been sent to the Township of Maplewood or the County of Essex—in a formal manner. There is still time to change it—if you show cause—without going through a formal, legal process.
Residential property owners throughout Maplewood have been receiving letters from Appraisal Systems Inc. all week notifying them of the new assessed value of their homes. (If you have not yet received your letter, your new value can be found on a spreadsheet on the Appraisal Systems Inc. website.) Commercial property letters will go out next week.
Using a calculator found on the Appraisal Systems website, property owners have been figuring what the tax impact of their new assessed value would be, using an adjusted 2010 tax rate.
Some residents have been happy with the results—one Maplewoodian on Courter Avenue was pleased, though not completely delighted, to see that her taxes would have been $800 less in 2010 using the new assessed value. Another Maplewood resident on Plymouth was practically in tears when she found her taxes would rise another $1,700.
That Plymouth Avenue resident can call Appraisal Systems (201-493-8530) and schedule a hearing with Appraisal Systems representatives to appeal her new assessment. Hearings begin Friday, Dec. 3, at the on Springfield Avenue and will run from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays into January 2011. You must call to schedule a meeting; email will not work.
Jason Cohen of Appraisal Sytems cautioned residents that, if they want to challenge their assessments, they must schedule a hearing—they cannot just show up. "We don't bring the whole town's records with us. We won't have your records." He also noted that homeowners must have received their letters to call for the appointment, despite the fact that the new valuations are posted on the website.
Property owners can stop by the Maplewood Municipal Court and Police building to view the sales sheets which will be posted on boards at the building; however, this information is also available in detail on the Appraisal Systems website.
At the hearing, property owners will have a one-on-one meeting with Appraisal Systems staff during which Appraisal Systems will "go through the particulars and go through the comparables," said Cohen. Cohen advises residents to bring "anything that impacts the value of your home"—including flood insurance statements and pictures of the interior that show conditions that weren't visible when the inspector visited.
Because the process is informal, Cohen said that residents can bring up and discuss any factors that they feel impact the value of their home—including the assessed values of neighboring properties and their characteristics. When the assessed values are sent to the Township and County in January and become legally binding, the process will become more formal and standards for a challenge will be much more strict.
"This is informal," said Cohen. "It's between the homeowner and Appraisal Systems. We will entertain challenges and look at your claims back at the office to see if a change is warranted." Yes, Cohen assured Patch, changes may come out of the meeting. "The values are not yet set and can change. When they go to the Town and County in January, then they are fixed and you will need a formal appeal."
All of those homeowners who have hearings with Appraisal Systems will receive a second letter in January (Cohen stressed that your letter will NOT come the week after your meeting, but as part of a mass mailing in January).