When Greenburgh and its six incorporated villages had their first townwide reassessment in 50 years, back in 2016, the process touched off challenges from residents who contended that their properties had been inaccurately revalued, resulting in unfair tax increases.
Now it’s time for another such reassessment, to be conducted with the assistance of Tyler Technologies, as in 2016. But it’s unlikely that this time residents will experience the same level of assessment shock as in 2016, as assessments have been updated at full market value since then.
According to Town Assessor Edye McCarthy, who provided an overview of the coming reassessment at the Sept. 1 Hastings Board of Trustees meeting, the Town passed a law in 2016 requiring a townwide reassessment every four to five years. “The Town decided that [50-year] cycle was a little too long,” she joked. But it was no joke to homeowners whose properties had been under the radar for decades, and who were billed thousands of dollars more in real estate taxes as a result of the reassessment.
Now the Town is preparing for the 2021 reassessment, which will examine the values of properties between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. The results will be reflected in owners’ 2022 tax bills.
By the end of this month, property owners should have received a data mailer with detailed information about their property. McCarthy noted that it’s important to read the information on the mailer carefully and to correct any factual errors.
McCarthy did not anticipate big shifts in 2021, but clarified that this year will be different from 2016 in that the Tyler Technologies’ representatives will not enter people’s houses, due to the pandemic. They will only photograph the exteriors of homes. McCarthy advised that if there are interior features that are atypical, the homeowner should include supporting information when they send the data mailer back (this can be done by email).
“We really need property owners’ assistance to make sure that we are capturing the inventory that we need to capture, for the values,” McCarthy said. “It may be that if there is really a crazy outlier… we may request to interiorly inspect the property. But we’re definitely looking at the outliers, whether we go in, or whether we talk to you over the phone, or ask you for photographs or ask you for a little video clip. That’s the type of thing that we’re doing now, and that’s all because of Covid.”
The goal of the 2016 assessment law was to assess every property in Greenburgh at its current market value, and then to keep those assessments as accurate as possible in the five-year gap until another official Townwide reassessment.
“In the interim years from 2016 to today, we [have been] doing what is known as ‘non-reassessment reassessment,” McCarthy explained. “We’re capturing building permits and the market values for them, and we’re also capturing, in your assessment, the market trends. We’re following the New York State guidelines, and by law we’re capturing the market every year.”
McCarthy said values for Hastings had increased every year since 2016. Location is the most important factor, other features being equal. When making a comparison with a sold house, “We have to stay to the best of our ability within the Village of Hastings,” McCarthy added. “Then we have to stay within the Hastings School District. That’s key because the values could be drastically different.”
Finally, the assessors only compare houses in the same neighborhoods. “You can have the same exact house built by the same builder on the same day with the same amenities, and they’re worth two separate amounts because one is located in Neighborhood A and the other one’s located in Neighborhood B,” she explained. “So we are reviewing all the neighborhoods to make sure the values are correct for the location.”
The values are then computed using a statistical sampling of the sales during that one-year period. “What’s fortunate for me is that we have enough sales to analyze within each of the individual neighborhoods, to make a determination as to what the market is doing,” McCarthy said.
She noted that in the years that the Town has been working with Tyler Technologies to analyze the local market, her own office has been analyzing the market for the same period, and so has New York State.
“All three of us independently analyze the sales to determine the market trends,” she said. “Fortunately, we’ve all come up with the same trends for each of the same neighborhoods, for each of the villages, within the town entire. So that’s how we do it every year, in order to maintain that 100 percent of market value that the Town Board is now committed to do. The market trending is part of the test the State gives us in order to determine whether we achieve that 100 percent grade or not.”
The Covid pandemic has resulted in increased demand for suburban properties by city dwellers looking to relocate, but that should not affect tax bills, McCarthy said.
“If we determine at the end of the day that the Village of Hastings market went up 3 percent from last year to this year and everybody’s assessment goes up 3 percent, that’s good, because that’s a reflection of the value,” she said. “That doesn’t mean their property taxes are going to go up 3 percent.”