Pandemic Buying Frenzy Impacts Revaluations

Franconia recently completed a revaluation that increased its grand list by 30%. (File Photo)

NORTH COUNTRY — The COVID-19 housing boom caused dramatic spikes in housing prices.

Evidence of that can be seen in revaluations, which are required every five years and establish updated real estate assessments.

Locally, Franconia and Stratford recently completed revaluations and their grand lists (the sum total of all real estate value) increased dramatically.

Franconia’s grand list went up 30%, to about $409 million, and Stratford’s grew 47.6%, to nearly $63 million.

Those are eye-popping numbers.

However, as communities statewide begin to cycle through revaluations in the pandemic era, the Department of Revenue Administration has cautioned property owners not to “freak out.”

In a press release on Tuesday, DRA reassured landowners that rising property values will be accompanied by tax rate adjustments.

For instance, Franconia’s property tax rate decreased 30% this year to $12.95 per $1,000 after the town’s revaluation. Similarly, Stratford’s tax rate dropped 28% to $19.28 per $1,000.

“In short, just because a homeowners’ assessed value goes up does not mean the amount of property taxes they pay will also go up,” said James Gerry, Director of the Municipal and Property Division at DRA. “Assessed value determines who will be paying the property taxes. While an individual’s assessed value is important, the driving force behind how much any property taxpayer will pay is the relationship between their assessed value and every other property owner’s assessed value in the city or town in which they reside.”

To drive home his point, Gerry compared the grand list to a pie, and each property to a slice.

“If your slice goes up by 10%, but the overall pie grows by 15%, your share of the overall pie will decrease,” he said.

TAX RATES AT A GLANCE

DRA began setting 2021 property tax rates in October.

Changes in tax rates varied across the North Country.

A half-dozen communities will have lower tax rates in 2021. They include Landaff (-20%, to $18.49), Bath (-12%, to $20.08), Carroll (-10%, to $19.13), Lyman (-10%, to $19.22), Columbia (-4.7%), Lisbon (-4.3%), Whitefield (-2.5%), Sugar Hill (-1.8%), and Pittsburg (-1.2%).

Other towns will see higher tax rates this year. Among them are Easton (+33.5% to $15.84), Stark (+10.6%, to $19.92), Monroe (+9.4%, to $13.11), Northumberland (+6.6%), Littleton (+6.5%), Lancaster (+5.8%), Colebrook (+5.5%), Randolph (+2.3%), and Stewartstown (+1%).

Northumberland and Lisbon continue to have among the highest tax rates in the state. Northumberland is $35.31 per $1,000, and Lisbon is $32.43. That is partly explained by both communities’ relatively low valuations.

Property tax rates have not yet been set for Bethlehem, Dalton, Jefferson, Haverhill and Sugar Hill.

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