Most Maplewood property owners received letters from Appraisal Systems Inc. (ASI) last week notifying them of the new assessed value of their homes, after the recent townwide reassessment.
The total value of the town went down by roughly 6.1%, said Jason Cohen of ASI, with many parts of town staying stable or decreasing slightly.
(All information connected with Maplewood's reassessment can be seen on ASI's website.)
Condominiums showed a substantial decrease in value, said Cohen, particularly those on Meadowbrook Place near the pool. Condos that were selling in the low $200's in 2009-10 are now selling for $75,000-125,000. "It's a sad story," he said, but he noted that the new lower values would help to decrease the owners' tax burden.
Overall, said Cohen, some neighborhoods remained stable, and no area went up in value substantially. The east side of town near the Irvington and Union border (including the Hilton neighborhood), decreased some, possibly due to a higher number of foreclosures and short sales.
The west side of town stayed mostly "strong and stable" said Cohen, with the exception of the area above Wyoming Avenue. "My theory is that it is because that area is far from the train station," he said.
Golf Island values remained stable; the College Hill and Tuscan School areas experienced "a little drop."
So, what does this mean for taxpayers?
In a nutshell, if your assessed value went down by LESS than 6.1%, your taxes will increase. If your assessed value went down by MORE than 6.1%, your taxes will decrease.
Using a calculator found on the Appraisal Systems website, property owners can figure out the tax impact of their new assessed value using an adjusted 2012 tax rate.
"Our assessment went down slightly," said one resident who lives near Rynda Road and Melman Terrace. "While that is good in that it keeps our taxes lower, I do not feel it is the true market value of our home by any means."
An Oakview Road resident in the Tuscan area was happy her assessment had decreased, but said, "Does this just mean the tax rate is going up? Probably."
Indeed, the 2013 tax rate will change based on the results of the reassessment. ASI estimates on its website that the current 2012 tax rate of 3.186 is likely to go up to 3.393 (not taking into account township budget increases.)
If you are pleased with your new value, there is nothing further for you to do. If you disagree with the value, call Appraisal Systems (201-493-8530) to schedule an informal hearing to appeal.
Hearings will take place through Dec. 29 at Maplewood Town Hall, said Cohen. For residents who cannot attend a hearing in person, ASI can schedule a phone meeting.
How to prepare for the meeting? "Bring a list of questions about your particular neighborhood or house, the town as a whole and the general reassessment process," said Cohen.
Obtain a copy of your record card by calling ASI or emailing them at email@example.com.
Also, check the sales data posted on the website. "If you see sales that don't substantiate your value, bring a copy of the spreadsheet with those sales highlighted," Cohen said.
A meeting may result in an increase, decrease, or no change. No decisions will be made at the meeting.
"We send letters informing property owners of any change by the second week of January," said Cohen.
Property owners will have until May 1 to file a formal appeal with the county. The new tax rate will be determined in the summer of 2013.