Many Verona residents had something else to digest with their Thanksgiving leftovers this year: The re-appraised value of their property.
There it was, in big bold-face type smack in the middle of the letters, sent by Appraisal Systems Inc. following months of revaluation work ordered by the Essex County Board of Taxation. But are the numbers good news or bad news?
First, understand that the appraised value of your property is not the market value, that is, what an interested buyer would pay. Local agents and mortgage brokers say that Verona, with its well established base of mid-priced homes, has fared better than other areas of northern New Jersey over the past year in that respect. According to third-quarter 2009 statistics from the National Association of Realtors®, the median sale price of an existing single family home in northern New Jersey was $388,500, down 8.3% from the average price for the third quarter of 2008.
Still, Appraisal Systems’ Web site offers reams of data about comparable sales for 2008 and 2009. It also offers one of life’s greatest guilty pleasures: The ability to find the assessment of every one of your neighbors and that house that you covet across town.
But I want to know if my property taxes are going down, you shout impatiently. Good luck. The letter from Appraisal Systems cautions against applying the 2009 tax rate to your new assessed value even though there’s a handy-dandy spreadsheet on its Web site that does that, with a hypothetical adjustment for 2010. But we don’t yet know what the 2010 rate will be and, while we are all hoping for a great rate, the Star Ledger is reporting that the state is facing a $400 million shortfall and warning it may freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to municipalities. Oh, and it also is likely to be short another $350 million next year.
So what do you do? You have 10 days from the date on your letter to schedule a talk with Appraisal Systems about the new valuation. You can file an appeal later, but there’s a big built-in delay to that process: The earliest you can file an appeal on 2010 taxes is October 2011.