By Connecticut State law, Brookfield must complete a full revaluation of all properties in town by the end of 2011. The firm contracted to conduct the assessment, Vision Appraisal, who did that last two revaluations (2001 and 2006), held an informative meeting for the public on Thursday, May 27. Five members of the public attended the meeting.
Towns must go through an interim update every five years, where homes are assessed solely from the outside, and a full revaluation every 10 years, where properties are assessed inside and out. "What takes place over time is certain neighborhoods increase in value or decrease in value at different rates," according to David Arnold, vice president of Vision Appraisal, "They all shift over time, so that at a point in time nobody is paying their fair share… The point of revaluation is to correct that, put everybody back on the same playing field."
Appraisal teams will begin visiting Brookfield homes within the next two weeks, as they finish up the data collection process for a revaluation currently underway in New Milford. (New Milford should have the results of their revaluation before the end of the year and may be a marker for how Brookfield's grand list will be affected.) Data collection teams will be going door-to-door over the next year and a half checking for new additions, the type of heating, the type of walls, number of bathrooms, bedrooms and measuring the square footage, to name a few of the criteria they will be assessing.
One member of the data collection team will show up at each property, though multiple appraisers may be working on the same street at a given time. "The cars that everyone drives will be registered with the Police Department," Town Assessor Denise Hames assured, "and I will have the license plates, so call us" if you need confirmation of the appraiser's credentials.
The collection process should take between five and 10 minutes, according to Arnold, though a complicated house "could take 15 to 20 minutes." An adult should accompany the appraiser during their evaluation and if one is not present they will return at another time.
"Our people don't want to walk through a house without somebody accompanying them," Arnold said, adding that, "We have the information already, but it's not always as accurate as we would like it." If the appraisers do not find an adult at home after several tries, they will leave a note asking to schedule for a convenient time.
No photographs will be taken of the inside of the house.
Once the data collection is complete, Vision Appraisals will analyze real estate sales trends in Brookfield over the last two years to determine the value of each property in town as of October 2011. "That is what determines your value," Arnold explained, "The appraisers do not determine the value, they just analyze the market."
The final values are based on three criteria: what it would cost to rebuild the house, the amount comparable homes have sold for and the income potential of the property (for commercial and rental properties). Homeowners will be notified by mail of the appraisers' valuation "on or about November 2011," Arnold said. Those who disagree with the new valuation can appeal first to Vision Appraisal ("Call us," Arnold said: 1-800-628-1013) and/or at informal meetings to be scheduled at Town Hall. Appraisers will return to any contested homes over the subsequent month before final notices go out in January 2012.
Assuming the grand list is set early in 2012, the Board of Assessment Appeals will meet in March to hear any outstanding grievances. (If there is a delay, the board will convene in April 2012.)
Arnold was sure to stress that, "whether values are going up or down, [the town] is not going to get more money, the budget is not going to change because of a revaluation."