Residents Starting To Receive Reval Assessment Notification Letters

Realty Appraisal Company, the firm conducting the townwide revaluation has started sending out Assessment Notification Letters and property owners should soon learn the updated value of their property. Currently, Roselle Park has $65,000 as the average assessment for residential properties in the borough. The new assessed average for Roselle Park is $254,000.

The letters were discussed at the Final Revaluation Information Session held at Borough Hall on  October 26th. The 50 minute meeting had around two dozen residents hear about the remaining stages of the process. Representatives from Realty Appraisal Company – Neil Rubinstein and Mark Duda – as well as Roselle Park’s Municipal Tax Assessor Gail Scaglione and Borough Attorney were on-hand to answer questions.

Neil Rubinstein spoke stating that, at that time, Realty Appraisal Company had 87% of the interior inspection completed and were aim for 90% or more by the end. He stated later in the meeting, regarding the desire for the highest percentage of inspections, “It’s a benefit to the town because the more properties we can get into the more accurate assessments we can calculate.”

If, after those meetings, any property owner is still not satisfied, they can file an appeal with the County for what is commonly known as a tax appeal.

Then, once the Municipal Tax Assessor reviewed and approved the assessments, letters would be sent out notifying property owners of the new property value. Then informal one-on-one meetings would be scheduled for those who had questions on their new assessment. Mr. Rubinstein stated that a hearing officer from the firm would meet with property owners who could bring any relevant information such as comparable sales or surveys (that show easement) to those meetings in order to provide Realty Appraisal with any data that might adjust the value of a property. If, after those meetings, any property owner is still not satisfied, they can file an appeal with the County for what is commonly known as a tax appeal.

Mr. Rubinstein clarified, “The hearing officer you are meeting with is not making that decision that day when you are sitting at the table with him. But we take that information and along with the assessor and my company, we review it. We review it individually, one at a time, and if we feel that there’s something that we didn’t know, that we didn’t inspect inside, there was an easement on the property that wasn’t on the tax map [but] it was on the survey, some form of information, then that may yield a review and a revision to your assessment.”

He said that everyone who comes into a hearing questioning their assessment will get a second letter stating whether or not there is a revision and new assessment. Property owners who just want to come in and review their property record card just to make sure everything is accurate will not received second letters. Mr. Rubinstein made it a point to let residents know that the record will be available for review because it is preliminary subject to review and potential change. He stated, “There will not be an opportunity to have a copy of it. We will not give a copy at the informal hearing until the revaluation is done and certified. Then it becomes your right.”

He also addressed the elephant in the room by talking about the potential impact on property taxes, “It’s not a slap, it’s about tax equalization. We’re trying to bring back the assessments in Roselle Park to an even level.”

Mark Duda remarked that Realty Appraisal Company will only review a property owner’s card, not a neighbor’s or anyone else’s. He also re-iterated that if an internal inspection was not conducted, the firm will not go over the property record until one is conducted. Mr. Rubinstein added that there will be a tax map which will have all the sales as well as two books of every usable sale in town for people to review since the revaluation looks at comparable sales to determine value for residential properties.

It was then time for questions from those in attendance.

First was Debra Singleton who asked questions regarding the checklist for her interior inspection. She said that the inspector noted that the property had a gas furnace when it has an oil furnace and she wanted to know if such things change the assessment. She was told that while things such as the number of bathrooms and the condition of the property do, the furnace is not one of the things that impacts assessments. Ms. Singleton also asked if the date noted of when house was built affects the valuation. It was stated that, for the most part, it does not because even though the year built is noted, what is assessed is the effective age or the condition of the property. When she asked if noting that an attic space was a den would affect the value, Mr. Rubinstein stated, clarifying why certain notations are made,, “Pretty much everything we do is under the direction of the division of taxation. The state provides a costing manual, that provides instructions on assessible space.”

In addressing the categories of old, adequate, and modern, Ms. Singleton commented, “In my kitchen and also in my upstairs bathroom . . I embrace the old so in my house I have not remodeled those room since those rooms were built in 1934 . . . [The inspector] actually put down ‘adequate’ and then also wrote down that I had my house remodeled in 1985 . . . when I asked him about that, he said to me that because the condition of my kitchen and my bathroom were so nice that he would put ‘adequate’ and that ‘old’ meant that it was gutted.”

Mark Duda replied, explaining the notations, “This is a good reason why we don’t typically give out those forms. That’s designed for our internal folks to look at. It can create confusion if you don’t do what we do for a living . . . It only affects your value if it’s been replaced in the last ten years and then we will call it modern . . .  It will not affect your value otherwise.”

Ms. Singleton then inquired about what happens to those who waited until their property was inspected and then proceeded to start renovations, remodeling, repair, or improvements. She was told by Mr. Rubinstein that even after the inspections took place, Realty Appraisal Company had very recently driven up and down and looked at every single property again, stating, “If somebody waited until we drove out into the sunset, that didn’t work because we looked at properties within the last two weeks.”

He did state that someone could start doing such work now but explained, “Once we turn it over to Gail [Scaglione], that’s part of the assessor’s charge; to review building permits, review the assessment, and make a determination whether the property needs to have an added assessment or an increase in assessment or not.”

Kathy Johnson, both a residential property and commercial property owner, approached and wanted to know what the basis was for the commercial evaluations. Mr. Rubinstein stated that for commercial properties, Realty Appraisal Company used the Income Approach, Cost Approach, and Market Approach to get to fair market value. Understanding that commercial property is bought and sold for the income it generates, income capitalization is utilized and that the land under and the building that sits on it is important.

“I heard you talk about not having access to certain homes, certain residents, and I was wondering if that had a negative impact on the assessments overall for the town” – Christopher Whiteside

Chris Whiteside next asked if properties were looked at individually or is there was a scale used to collective look at properties. Mr. Rubinstein answered, “There’s no factor of a property next door to you that’s going to affect your value.”

Mr. Whiteside stated, “The reason why I was asking is because I heard you talk about not having access to certain homes, certain residents, and I was wondering if that had a negative impact on the assessments overall for the town but if they’re treated individually then I guess its moot.”

Mr. Rubinstein replied that properties are treated individually and usually at the informal hearing process there are a fair amount of property owners that want to talk to the firm that did not do an internal inspection. At those hearings he remarked that there will be inspectors available at that time to conduct interior inspections, adding “We’re very accommodating for that.”

In explaining a question from another resident who asked what sales are taken into account when doing assessments, the Municipal Tax Assessor stated that in order to conduct a sales study ratio, which is the study that sets the ratio for Roselle Park, transactions such as estate sales, foreclosure, sheriff sales are not included. Mr. Rubinstein further explained that is a state requirement prohibits such transactions in assessing another property.

As the meeting ended,  Mr. Rubinstein added that Saturday, early evening, and even in some rare cases where neither could be possible, a phone conference could be arranged, but only in the most extreme of circumstances. He said, “We will try to accommodate.”

The meeting ended with no one asking questions about recent articles that mentioned Realty Appraisal Company and the Monmouth County Tax program (link).

Notification Letters will provide detailed information on a homeowner’s respective assessment. Anyone wishing to discuss their appraisal can schedule a future appointment by calling (201) 867-3870 on the following dates:

Time To Call
November 17, 2015
9:30 a.m. - noon
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
November 18, 2015
9:30 a.m. - noon
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
November 19, 2015
9:30 a.m. - noon
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

These dates are for scheduling of the informal meetings only.
These are not the dates for the face-to-face hearings.
Those requesting a meeting were asked to provide
block and lot information when calling in.