For information on the Property Revaluation Process, read below.
In accordance with Connecticut General Statutes, the Town of Fairfield is conducting a real property revaluation as required for the Grand List of October 1, 2020. This revaluation will correspond to the tax bills that will be due beginning in July 2021.
This process began in 2019 when the Town of Fairfield undertook a Request for Proposal in order to solicit bids from state certified revaluation firms. The bidder selected in this process was Municipal Valuation Services a Fairfield based company. Municipal Valuation Services, is subsidiary of Kerin & Fazio LLC who have been providing valuation services to municipalities for more than 25 years. The three partners, Christopher Kerin, Michael Fazio and Davis Herbst are all Connecticut MAI appraisers.
The Revaluation Process
There are five major phases to a municipal revaluation: Data Collection, Market Analysis, Valuation, Field Review, and Informal and Formal Appeal Hearings. During these phases many tasks will be implemented in order to successfully complete the revaluation.
Phase 1 - Data Collection
Fairfield’s 2020 revaluation will be an “update” type revaluation. This means that we will NOT be visiting all properties in town, this is only required once every 10 years and was completed during the 2015 revaluation. Typically during this type of revaluation only properties that were sold would be visited to verify the characteristics of the home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic we will be using alternative methods which may include sales questionnaires and or review of publicly available data online. Municipal Valuation Services will also be taking digital images of all properties, this will be done from the street in most cases. If it is necessary to exit their vehicle employees will be wearing masks and practice social distancing. The employees will carry identification, have their car marked and both the Police Department and the Assessors Office are notified of the area they are working in. These images will be added to the assessment database and can be printed on the property record card. This will allow property owners and the Town to retrieve an image of any parcel in town.
Phase 2 - Market Analysis
A variety of resources are used to analyze the real estate market. Appraisal Personnel will analyzing property sales taking place over a two and a half year period to determine which market factors influence property values. Once all the data is collected and reviewed for accuracy, appraisers will determine land values and set Neighborhoods, which rate the valuation levels of locations throughout the Town as determined by actual market activity.
Phase 3 - Valuation
Valuation is done using three recognized appraisal methods: the Cost Approach, the Income Approach and the Sales Comparison Approach. During this phase, individual characteristics of buildings are analyzed using information gathered in both phases 1 and 2. Each property is compared to other comparable properties with similar characteristics. Then the contributory market value of the improvements is added to the previously determined land values. This value is the final estimate for each parcel of property, building and land.
Phase 4 - Field Review
Field Review is the method of checking and re-checking both the values that have been determined and the data that has been collected. During this review, properties are viewed in the field by experienced appraisers who double-check uniformity and accuracy of information.
Phase 5- Informal and Formal Appeal Hearings
Once the data collection, market analysis, valuation, and field review phases of this revaluation are completed notices of your new assessment and prior assessed value will be mailed. At this time, anyone with questions concerning the revaluation process, the data collected on their property or their valuation will have an opportunity to meet with a member of Municipal Valuation’s staff to discuss their property.
After the initial notice of their new assessment, taxpayers will be invited to participate in an informal hearing with a Municipal Valuation staff member if they wish to contest their new assessment. The informal hearing is the first step in the appeal process if the property owner feels their assessment is inaccurate. The informal hearings will take place in late November and during December 2020. A follow-up notice will be mailed to owners who participate in an informal hearing, showing any change to the assessment. Information on how to contact Municipal Valuations can be found here, in the sample revaluation notice.
Any property that has an informal hearing or any property were they value has been changed since the first notice will receive another assessment notice in early February 2021. This notice will provide the details on how to appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals, which is a formal appeals process undertaken annually by state statute. As with the informal hearings, owners who wish to formally appeal their assessment will have the opportunity to do so at Board of Assessment Appeals hearings. Appeals must be received by February 19, 2021 to be heard.
After all five phases are completed, all data, files, records, etc. used in the revaluation are then turned over to the Assessors Office. This will allow the Town to maintain the data collected and values determined during the revaluation on a continual basis.
The Purpose of a Revaluation
The main purpose of a revaluation is to correct inequalities in the tax burden that have developed since the last revaluation in 2015. Revaluation is a revenue neutral process. This means that a municipality's tax levy is not changed by the revaluation, thus the total amount of taxes the Town will need to collect will be about the same, regardless of whether or not a revaluation takes place. What does change in a revaluation is the amount of taxes individual taxpayers pay. In July 2021, the first tax payments under this revaluation will be due.
Revaluation is a long process required by state law, one that will take almost two years to complete between the start of the process and the payment of the first tax bills after the revaluation. The Town of Fairfield asks for patience during this process.