Property Taxes

I am often asked how CT property taxes are calculated and how they may change. Here’s an explanation.

In the state of CT, real estate is taxed at the municipal level. There is no property tax levied by the state. Each town estimates expenses for the upcoming year and sets the local tax rate (called the Mill Rate) that is needed to support the budget. The town generates a list of all taxable properties that includes real estate and autos. This list, referred to as the Grand List, contains an estimated Assessment Value of all properties. Typically the Assessment Value is 70% of market value.

Most years, your property value and taxes will remain the same. Changes to Assessed Value typically only occur when you make improvements to your home, like upgrading your kitchen. However, each town must revalue properties every five years, either by physical observation or statistical analysis, or some combination of both. Physical inspections for reassessment purposes are required by CT law to take place every 10 years.

However, if your town changes the Mill Rate, your tax bill will also change.

Taxes on a property are calculated by dividing the Assessment Value by $1,000 and multipling by the Mill Rate. This gives you your estimated tax bill.

This year we heard a lot about taxes because several towns did reassessments and property assessment values jumped by 75%-200+%. Mill Rates also changed. With the changes came potentially huge tax increases for homeowners. Let’s look at a quick example.

I live in Hartford and my house’s previous assessments for 1999-2005 were based on a fair market value of $158,700. The Mill Rate fluctuated through the years and in 2005 my estimated tax bill was $4,776. But in 2006 the city did an external physical observation and statistical analysis to reassess all city properties and changed the Mill Rate once again. We received our letter from the Assessor’s office indicating that our new fair market value was $425,000. Our estimated property value increased 167%! So what would our new tax bill be?

Assessed Value        $425,000 x .70 = $297,500

2006 Mill Rate           42.30 for residential property

Estimated Tax Bill      $297,500 / $1,000 x 42.30 = $12,584

Our taxes nearly tripled! While the Mill Rate was lowered from the previous year, the huge change in Assessment Value outweighed the impact of the Mill Rate change.

So that’s how property taxes are calculated. Battling my tax bill will be another story for another day.

Mortgage Confusion

According to a survey recently administered by Bankrate.com, apparently 30% of US homeowners have no idea what type of mortgage they own. One of the biggest investments a person will ever make and they don’t understand the terms of the loan, or the implications of how their monthly payments will change as interest rates fluctuate.

It frustrates me to know that mortgage lenders and real estate professionals took advantage of individuals that didn’t know what questions to ask and were guided to products that weren’t necessarily in their long term interests. Of course, not all lenders and agents took advantage of inexperienced buyers, but those that did tarnish the image of all real estate industry professionals.

When buying a home, people should understand what they are buying and all of the costs involved. This includes transaction costs, potential resale value of a home and how value could be improved, long term cost considerations such as rising taxes, changing interest rates, etc. Consumers need to make informed decisions because a misinformed decision could potentially be financially devastating down the line. If you feel that your advisors in the home buying process aren’t fully answering your questions or straight forward in their responses, call them out on it. Just as you would do with a doctor, get a second opinion.

And here we go…

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

I’m going to use this space to share my thoughts about real estate in and around Hartford, CT. I would definitely like to interact with readers to see what folks have on their minds, so please post your thoughts and questions.

Rather than going through my background here, I’m going to send you over to my main site, AmyBergquist.com, where you can find more information about me and more importantly about buying and selling homes.

Finally, I’m going to try to post regularly, so check back often to see what’s new. Pages will also be added to the main site as I continue to develop content that is hopefully interesting and useful.

Thanks again for visiting!