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The collection and maintenance of current and accurate property inventory data is a critical element in the development of uniform, fair market values. Accordingly, the Bureau of Local Assessment (BLA) of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) requires that communities re-inspect all town property, including tax-exempt parcels, at least once roughly every ten years. This continuous process of inspecting parcels throughout the town is known as a "cyclical re-inspection program".
Assessors inspect the property for a number of reasons. Reason number one is that it is the law. According to the Massachusetts DOR we must inspect each property every 10 years and that inspection should be a full measure of the exterior and an attempt at gaining entry for interior information. Secondly, by inspecting property, we are keeping our data accurate which helps us calculate assessed values that are fair and equitable.
The Assessing Department staff will be driving a Town vehicle, they may also be wearing a shirt with the Town Seal on it or caring an ID badge with their name and photo on it. They will always knock on the front door of your home first. If you are home, they may ask you a few questions about your home and ask for permission to measure the home. If you are not home, they will measure the exterior of your home, possibly take a photo of the property, and then leave. A property review roughly takes between 5 to 15 minutes. We do not leave a card or hang anything on your door as thieves may see this as a sign that no one is at the property. If you have any questions regarding if your property was visited by the Assessing Department, please call 508-760-6139.
You do not have to allow the assessors into your home. We only request the inspection in order to be as fair and accurate as possible. However, if an assessor is denied entrance, property owners give up their ability to challenge the assessed value. It is impossible to question an assessment if a property owner refuses to allow the assessors a view of the entire property. In instances where the assessors do not get into a property, estimates are made about the condition of the interior of the property, the kitchen and bath qualities, and whether there is finished attic space and finished basement space.
As stated above, you do not have to allow the assessors into your home. We only request the inspection so we can be as fair and accurate as possible. Accurate assessments are based on accurate information. By allowing the assessors to view the interior and exterior of your property, your assessed value is based on accurate information. If a person does not allow the assessors to view the interior and exterior of a property, estimates are made about the condition of the interior of the property, the kitchen and bath qualities, and whether there is finished attic space and finished basement space. If the estimates are overstated, property owners may contact the assessor's office to arrange an interior and exterior inspection of their property.
Just as a potential buyer wants to see the interior and exterior of the property before determining a purchase price, the assessors want to see the interior and exterior of the property to make an accurate determination about the market value of the property. The interior information of a property is essential in determining the estimate of market value. Without the actual information, estimates of the interior information have to be made.
You do not need to let the assessors in. We respect your privacy. We also understand that our visit may be "not a good time."
If you do not allow entry into the home, we are forced to estimate your interior information. We do not necessarily estimate that you have had major renovations done, but we do have to make a judgment call on the condition of your property. Our goal again is to make sure all assessed values are fair.
Note: if you refuse to allow entry to your home, any formal appeals will be denied.
There are benefits to allowing the assessor's interior access to your home. First, you know that your assessment is based on the correct data.
Second, as our information is already accurate, our inspections mostly result in no changes or only minor changes that have little to no effect on the value.
Finally, our data becomes a public record. Public record data is utilized by websites such as Redfin, Zillow, and MLS. If you want your public record data to be accurate, setting up an inspection with our office is the first step.
This program is not an effort to raise taxes. The amount the Town can tax is regulated by Proposition 2 1/2 and the budget is voted on annually at Town Meetings. The goal of Property Assessment is to ensure that we are treating all property owners fairly and equitably. If we are doing that, then each taxpayer is paying his or her "fair share" of the tax burden. Our goal is to have your property information as accurate as possible.
If you are struggling with your taxes, please reach out to our office. Our property tax exemption programs assist disabled veterans, blind individuals, and senior citizens.