Peterborough properties due for another reassessment in 2024

Peterborough Town House

Peterborough Town House FILE PHOTO

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger Transcript

Published: 05-30-2024 12:04 PM

A hot real estate market in the Monadnock region is causing the Town of Peterborough to undergo another property reassessment for the whole town – three years after a reassessment increased many residential property values by 30% to 40% and stoked fears that property taxes would rise by a similar amount.

Although Peterborough reassessed all town properties in 2021, property values in the region, particularly in Peterborough, continue to rise. According to Peterborough Assessing Clerk Ali Kreutz, the state feels Peterborough properties are under-assessed, with the actual market value of most homes in town estimated to be more than 25% higher than the current tax assessment value.

“Our biggest goal with this reassessment is to get the word out, so that people feel as prepared as possible. The impression I had after the  2021 revaluation was that many of our residents did not feel as adequately prepared or educated about why or how the process was happening,” Kreutz said.

Kreutz said there are some common misconceptions about the property reassessment process and how it relates to the town’s tax rate.

“The State of New Hampshire sets the tax rate. People sometimes think that because the town mails the bills, we set the tax rate, but it comes from the state. The Town of Peterborough must wait for the state to provide us with  the tax rate before the tax collector can send out the final tax bills for the year. The process they follow is the same for every municipality in the state,” Kreutz said. “The determining factor in setting the tax rates is the amount that needs to be raised by the state, county, the school district and the town, to pay their bills each year.” 

Kreutz said she sometimes hears from residents who do not understand why the value of their house has increased when they have not made any changes or upgrades to their home.

“It is about what the market will bear,” Kreutz said. “People will tell me, ‘I don’t understand how my home’s value could have  gone up so much, because I have not made any improvements, and it’s just getting older.’ But the fact is that right now, there is a high demand for homes in Peterborough, and what we are seeing is people coming in may be willing to pay a lot more than the assessed value, or even more than the listing price, which makes the value of everyone’s home go up. It is all about the demand that is out there.” 

Kreutz encourages Peterborough residents wondering about the value of their homes to come into the town clerk’s office and look up their neighborhood in the town’s sales binders, which include the most-recent sale of every property in town. Sales binders are available to the public whenever the town clerk’s office is open. 

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“The sales binders are a tool that not a lot of people know about, but they are right there for anyone to look at, and they provide a lot if information. People can see what a nearby or comparable house in their neighborhood has sold for to get a sense of what their own home might be worth,” Kreutz said.

The sales binders list only sales transactions and do not include information about other transfers. 

Another common misconception about reassessments, according to Kreutz, is that if properties values go up, “the town will take more taxes because homes are worth more.” 

“There is a set amount that we need to raise for the year – which is voted on at Town Meeting – and that amount does not change. When a town’s overall property value goes up a lot, the tax rate actually almost always decreases, because each property is worth more,” Kreutz said. “We can’t definitely give people an idea of what their tax bill is going to look like until we get the tax rate from the state.”

In 2021, the tax rate fell to $25.76 per $1,000 of assessed value from the previous year’s rate of $30.84, For a house valued at $200,000 in 2020, the tax bill on that year’s $30.84 tax rate would have been $6,168. If that same property increased in value by 35% to be worth $270,000 in 2021, the tax bill on this year’s lower tax rate of $25.76 would would have been $6,955 – a 12.8% tax increase.

Reaction to the assessment increase led to the Select Board hosting a public meeting with the town’s contracted assessor, Marybeth Walker, and the town received 41 requests for abatements – 37 for residential properties and four for commercial properties. At the time, Kreutz said that the number of applications was comparable to prior revaluation years.

Corcoran Consulting will conduct assessments over the summer. Kreutz notes that assessors do not need to go inside each home, and but will visit every property in town. 

“They will not do a deep dive into every property, but they will put eyes on every single property,” Kreutz said. 

Kreutz, who is also the town’s welfare officer, encourages residents with questions or concerns about their assessments or their tax bill to contact her at akreutz@peterboroughnh.gov or to call 603-924-8000, Ext 112. She will have an information table at the Peterborough Transfer Station on dates throughout the summer, as well. 

“We know this can be a huge stressor for people, and we are here to help,” Kreutz said. “My  goal is to arm people with as much information as possible about this process so people can figure out how they personally will be impacted.” 

Kreutz noted that the spring tax bill is based on an estimate of what the upcoming 2024 tax rate will be. Towns typically do not receive their tax rate from the state until late October or even early November, depending on when property assessments and budgets come in. Once the tax rate is set, residents can determine their fall tax bill by multiplying the assessed value of their home by the tax rate and subtracting exemptions or deductions such as veterans’ tax credits.

Peterborough residents are encouraged to reach out to the tax collector’s office to see if they qualify for any tax exemptions or deductions. For information, go to peterboroughnh.gov/departments/assessing/index.php