Every year the City of Boston adjusts assessed home values for a real estate tax base, and there is a lot of confusion around this number. Allow me to offer some clarifications and suggest how to avoid overpaying real estate taxes.
What is the city’s Assessed Value?
The City’s assessed assessed value for your house or condominium is not the market value of your home. It should roughly represent the market value of three years ago, I was told anecdotally. But I recommend you attach no interpretations to the number provided by the municipality.
Most likely, Boston’s assessed value of your home in Brighton, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and almost anywhere in Boston is well under current market value. This is a good thing. Remember, this number is your tax base, so a lower assessed value means a lower real estate tax liability.
What is Abatement?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows homeowners to request abatement from their town or city if it is believed the assessment is wrong and needs to be adjusted. Most commonly, the abatement process is used when the home’s assessed value is higher than the market value.
I requested abatement when my Brighton condo’s value well exceeded the market value. If I would have sold the condo at the time, it would have been worth about $30,000 less than the value the City used to calculate my taxes.
The abatement procedure was painless and quick, and my condo’s assessed value was adjusted and my taxes lowered. But I realized many of my neighbors did not do the same. Either they didn’t realize there was a way to lower assessment or they didn’t realize the assessment was too high.
Should I Request Abatement from the City of Boston?
If you believe your condo’s assessed value is too high, meaning it exceeds the market value, you should request an abatement. If your neighbor’s similar condo just sold for less than your assessed value, apply to have your value reduced.
If you are unsure of the market value of either Boston or Brookline property, contact me and I can provide you with this information for free.
Don’t know your Boston property’s assessed value? Find it here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/assessing/search/
For your Brookline property’s assessed value database is here: http://apps.brooklinema.gov/assessors/propertylookup.asp
Abatement instructions are provided here: http://www.cityofboston.gov/assessing/abatement.asp
Boston’s abatement application is not available online, you must pick it up from City Hall or give them a call:(617) 635-4287.
Town of Brookline Abatement:
Brookline real estate abatement is similar to Boston’s. The abatement application is available online with more information at http://www.brooklinema.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166&Itemid=90
If you want to apply for abatement, do it NOW, deadline is February 1!