The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 20, 2006


New property assessments released '05 land sales drive real estate values higher

The public disclosure period during which property owners may examine and question new real estate assessments will start Monday, October 23, and end Friday, October 27. Data may be viewed at the Board of Assessors office in Town Hall or at the Gleason Public Library. Any typographical errors found during the five-day period can be corrected without the need for an abatement request. For substantial disagreements, a site inspection by the assessor will be required. Town Assessor John Speldel said the average valuations for both land and structures rose by about 15%, however the average value for a house lot in Carlisle rose by 25% from $348,000 to $436,000.

The average value of a building lot is based on "arms-length land sales," or purchases of undeveloped land between unrelated people. During 2005 there were only 13 such sales, which ranged in price from $399,000 to $525,000. For a large parcel, the amount over two acres is valued as "excess land" at the rate of $5,500 per acre. This rate is used for farm land and any open space.

Home values based on sales of similar properties

Chair of the Board of Assessors James Marchant and Speidel met with the Mosquito recently to explain the process used in their calculations. At least once every three years the state requires Massachusetts towns to reappraise all real estate based on recent sales information. The fair market valuation method to be used for FY07 focused on 2005 sales, when real estate prices were going up.

Assessments start with the basic land value, but then many other factors are considered, including the neighborhood, and the size, style, condition of the house and sales data of similar properties. Software is used that was developed by Patriot Properties, Inc. of Lynn, Mass. Speidel said the firm works with about 120 communities across the state.

Completed calculations are then submitted for approval to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) prior to the public disclosure period.

Tax rate will drop

Once the revaluation is certified by DOR, Carlisle can recalculate the tax rate, lowering it so that the higher real estate valuations will not change the total amount of money to be raised. The town can only raise as much money as was voted by Town Meeting. The state must approve the new tax rate before third-quarter bills are mailed in January.


If a homeowner decides to question the assessment after receiving the January tax bill, they have 30 days to file an abatement request. After the Board of Assessors receives the abatement request, they have up to three months to examine the property, discuss it at a public meeting and vote. If the board denies a request, the property owner can appeal the decision to the state appellate tax board (ATB) in Boston. At the ATB a panel of seven lawyers will hear and mediate the case. Between one and six cases from Carlisle are heard at the ATB each year.

acres is valued as "excess land" at the rate of $5,500 per acre. This rate is used for farm land and any open space.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito