Comments on: The dangers of De-Occupy Your House A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: paintcan Sat, 14 Jan 2012 14:15:14 +0000 It’s been weeks since I wrote my comments and I missed a big mistake. I meant to say the town claims my house is valued at 100% of market value. My eyesight is crap and the “Zero” key sticks.

I really need a proof reader and better glasses!

By: paintcan Sun, 18 Dec 2011 15:11:40 +0000 “Is NH losing population? During the boom years, I thought it was growing pretty rapidly.”

It was growing and I should try to find out. It probably is shrinking again.

I think that if fuel costs continue to increase, and especially, if the second home mortgage deduction is ever taken away, the situation up here could change enormously.

But rising fuel costs could change the value of all real estate that is remote from urban areas.

By: TFF Sun, 18 Dec 2011 12:23:45 +0000 “But they aren’t doing things like MA does. There’s a lot of “attitude” up here about MA.”

The Massachusetts system isn’t perfect either. But there are dozens of other states you could look at which don’t rely exclusively on the property tax to fund their public services. I can see why a high property tax rate would make it more likely for an owner to dump an unsalable property on the town and/or bank.

We also aren’t seeing the same level of vacancies in MA that you are in NH. The real estate market here is subdued but not moribund.

Is NH losing population? During the boom years, I thought it was growing pretty rapidly.

By: paintcan Sun, 18 Dec 2011 05:15:35 +0000 “the towns tax base would shrink” is an error. The total assessed valuation of taxable property should shrink.

I think what happens now, when a town’s tax base shrinks, it means that owners are walking away from their mortgages and some even abandon the buildings, usually houses and undeveloped lots, to the town because they are in tax delinquency. And up here it means – it the oner can’t unload quickly enough – the town gets the whole thing and the owner looses the entire value of the house and not just the back taxes. The towns rational is that the owner should be able to sell before the two years allowed for arrears have expired. I’m not sure houses are selling within that two year period now. Sale signs seem to be up for a long time.

This town used to have periodic abandoned property sales. This is a rural area and the town was not that sophisticated yet. It’s learning fast. But they aren’t doing things like MA does. There’s a lot of “attitude” up here about MA.

By: TFF Sat, 17 Dec 2011 23:54:44 +0000 “In MA they may use it to “apportion” the tax burden. That is not the way it is used in NH.”

Very possibly. I freely admit my ignorance of the NH property tax system. I suspect the dynamics are different in places which distribute the tax burden across multiple taxes, however.

“They should open the record to full online access”

Have you tried Zillow? They’ve captured the tax assessments in my town.

“Are they so much more honest and straight forward in MA?”


“But it is obvious the rest of my discussion is over your head.”

Always a possibility!

By: paintcan Sat, 17 Dec 2011 23:25:06 +0000 In MA they may use it to “apportion” the tax burden. That is not the way it is used in NH. And I am not “obsessed” as you put it. I am trying to make sense of the numbers. They don’t just make them up out of whole cloth or perhaps they do? I am inclined to think that all economic calculations – other than my checkbook – are works of art.

I would repeat a very old post but not now. But just prior to the bust, the assessment on my property changed three times in three years and always drastically upward and by two different town wide assessments by two different real estate assessment companies. The actual bill always rose a hundred or so with each assessment but the way it was calculated was looking like a joke. The town got so much grief for the first one they threw out all the paper work (the fact sheet that recorded the specifics of my house and lo) and didn’t refer to each others fact sheets and insisted on starting from scratch for the whole town. Both firms charged the town for their services and both firms I believe were paid in full. They may as well have picked the numbers out of a hat. I lost all confidence that the calculations were anything more than guesswork and bluff. The property values have dropped and they are actually talking of a new assessment. I seriously doubt I am going to see a drop in assessed valuation. The old system was slowly assembled and I understood how it seemed to work and I had even read the old assessors handbook. If I am obsessed with anything it is this house. It is my comfort and joy and don’t want to loose it to the prevarications and double talk of town officials.

They should open the record to full online access and I’d like to see hope their numbers actually match the facts on the ground. This is a state that was notorious for changing new comers with nearly the same house one bill for the new sale and a very different one for someone who may have been there a long time. They were all also likely to hit the new arrivals with fees and assessments designed to shift the burden onto the perceived “richer: out-of-staters. You are a very naive and trusting soul. I used to be too. Are they so much more honest and straight forward in MA?

But it is obvious the rest of my discussion is over your head.

By: TFF Sat, 17 Dec 2011 20:35:45 +0000 I wonder — perhaps the NH system is simply screwed up?

Massachusetts distributes the tax burden between property tax, sales tax, and income tax. As best I can tell, New Hampshire relies almost exclusively on the property tax. A quick review of the tax rates in NH shows many towns with rates in excess of 30 mils (3% of assessed value annually). Our property tax rate here is less than a third of that.

There are good reasons NOT to push all of the costs onto a single tax. You do a good job of explaining some of them. Happily most states have better sense than this.

By: TFF Sat, 17 Dec 2011 19:39:54 +0000 “Towns don’t e generally reassess all the property in a town downward to reflect that fact.”

Yes they do. I believe my town updates the assessments every three years. The last update was (obviously) downward.

I don’t understand the obsession with that number, however. It is used to APPORTION the tax burden, not DETERMINE the tax burden. It doesn’t really matter whether the valuations are high or low relative to market, as long as they are consistent with each other.

But from what I’ve seen, they are relatively consistent with the market.

By: paintcan Sat, 17 Dec 2011 19:04:24 +0000 I think all I’m trying to ask – when the property in a MA community isn’t selling at the boom prices – Towns don’t e generally reassess all the property in a town downward to reflect that fact. This town wants to claim that the house I live in is valued at 10% of market rate. That is what they tell you when you claim the valuation is too high.

It is up to the homeowner to prove that a building of comparable, size, age and amenities is being assessed at a lower level than your own. Property taxes assessments are something of an unspeakable act. It is something of an art form or a bluff. I dare say that if the property tax records were open (legally they are) to anyone to inspect – the process would fall apart overnight as a very rough guess.

I can’t forget when thinking about how economic goods are calculated in the overall economy that stocks and IPO’s will manufacture value by claiming that a small percentage of stock that may be sold to the general public – it the standard of value for the remaining stock that my be in the hands of the corporation that holds them. If that same logic was used for the same tax base of a municipality, the towns tax base would retroactively shrink as more houses sat unsold for long periods of time or the town began to shrink in population.

What tends to happen when towns fall on bad times is just what the article was saying. Owners consider the economic sense of selling for what it can fetch or abandoning it. This paper is not an advocate of charitable giving for it’s own sake. But the town was quick to ratchet up the assessed valuation and is loath to drop it as prices fall. But they will have very high tax rates for very cheap property if it stays where they want it. Or they catch the old timers like me in buildings more highly assessed than a house that may be larger, newer, and better equipped, that sold for far more just a few years ago, and that might now be sitting vacant of was just sold for less than what they claim mine might. I recall from working in town office briefly, that the deed of a property that has been sold in town passes through the Town Clerk’s office and they know what the purchase as recorded in the state Registry of Deeds. They can’t exceed the value of the purchase price when they assess a property. They don’t do it in reverse as prices go down. And those prices sometimes do stay down.

The abandonment of property is not a matter of foresight on the part of Town Officials. Municipal property valuations are something like climbing a ladder and never being able to step back down as times require. They will eat no man’s lands rather than do that.

By: TFF Fri, 16 Dec 2011 21:50:52 +0000 As an example, in 2003 the tax rate was 12.6 mils. In 2004 (after adjusting the assessments) the tax rate fell to 9.2 mils. Fell again three years later to 8.9 mils. The tax bill, of course, crept steadily upwards.

I’m not going to complain about the assessments. The town needs the money for the services, and schools are typically run on a shoestring budget. Far less wasteful than for-profit businesses (speaking from experience on both ends).