BEDFORD — In light of the strong real estate market, local assessors are in the midst of another property revaluation — just two years after the town completed a revaluation update in 2017.
“Prices for the most part are up and continuing so, and inventory is down, which can make it hard to find a home to relocate in town,” said William Ingalls, the town assessor.
When the town-wide revaluation was completed in 2017, Ingalls said assessments were 100 percent of the actual fair market value. Now, those assessments, on average, are about 89.9 percent of the value for residential properties, he said, stressing the equalization ratio is intended to result in all properties being treated relatively the same.
“This consistent strong market activity supports the decision to conduct another statistical update for 2019,” Ingalls said. “The market has remained strong, overall, in Bedford since the 2017 update. Demand, especially combined with a lower inventory of properties for sale, is a big factor in the overall strength of the market.”
He recently told the town council there are currently 50 or more homes for sale in Bedford. Out of 6,000 residential properties in town, that is not much inventory, Ingalls said.
“We need to avoid the large increases we experienced from the 2017 update,” he said, explaining the need for a revaluation every two years as opposed to once every four or five years.
Once the 2019 property update is complete, he anticipates the need for revaluations in 2021, 2023 and 2025, depending on the market.
“The market dictates our behavior,” Ingalls said.
Currently, assessors are reviewing properties using analysis gathered during the past year of sales. The initial valuation notices should be mailed to homeowners around Aug. 1, which will highlight newly assessed values, Ingalls said.
“The job is proceeding on schedule,” he said, stressing this is a statistical update and not a full measure and list assessment.
The total gross assessed valuation of the community is about $4 billion, including more than $3 billion in residential properties and about $773 million in commercial or industrial properties. Ingalls said there are about 6,390 single-family or in-law residences in Bedford, as well as 38 multi-family properties and 634 residential condominiums. The town also has 108 commercial or industrial properties, nearly 400 commercial condominiums and 60 industrial condos. There are also more than 200 vacant lots.
Ingalls acknowledged that homeowners are often worried about revaluations resulting in higher assessments and a potential increase in taxes. He stressed that if the overall value of a community is increased and spending stays the same, the tax rate will go down. However, if the town budget goes up, the tax rate could increase and result in higher taxes for some property owners.
“It is a legitimate concern,” Ingalls said.