And I have a right to protect my property!
When an assessor examines your house, there are many factors that the evaluation will be based upon. Since recently, I had my mortgage refinanced, the bank required a current re-valuation. Most appraisers use the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report and so though I am certainly not in their business, their analysis is designed to be reviewed and appreciated by the average homeowner and that would be me!
The report is broken down into three categories:
1. Physical condition of the site and improvements
2. Location analysis of the neighborhood and the city
3. Economic analysis of the market for properties in the similar category
Of course, if you take care of your property and do the responsible tasks of a homeowner, then naturally, you should see a favorable report based on the general condition of the house.
Many just leave it at that and do not understand their ‘castle’ may be affected by factors completely out of their control.
If the neighborhood is shot, your house will be impacted. If the city is in terrible condition or in a deteriorating process, all your personal efforts could go right down the drain.
We have already seen a new movement by outside developers who think that just because they build something in Newburyport (No matter how out of character or destructive to the real-estate enhancing affect of the historic district), they will reap large profits. Most don’t live here or have a tenuous connection with the community. It’s the boomtown mentality: cash in, then cut and run.
Each of them contribute a little more to damaging our historic neighborhoods or the continuity of the downtown commercial district. And this will impact negatively on property owners throughout the city – and just when we need the boost in stable, property tax revenues!
And this naturally leads us to the third category: economically comparable homes. If no one wants to pay the steady but higher prices (As much as 30% over a neighboring city of which I will not mention) and the prospect is that prices will be depressed in the future, then everyone in Newburyport begins to feel it in their property values as the assessor notes comparable homes at low purchase prices.
That is why the local historic district ordinance is so vital. It protects our investments by not allowing outside (and ignorant locals) to destroy streetscapes and historic neighborhoods. Right now, we have mansions and little houses mixed together – the pressure will grow to tear down those small workmen & fisherman houses and replace them with large homes.
Property values are based on comparative pricing around the city. If the smaller homes are torn down or marred, then the larger homes begin to ‘lift’ pricing across the neighborhood. Next thing you know it, average people will be forced out of the city as we become overcome with larger homes and large tax levies. It will occur – at first slowly but later, it will gather steam unless we put in protections. We’ll boost our affluence but only for a wealthy elite and that is not a healthy balanced community.
Now you can figure out rather scientifically how much your home is valued by going to www.accucoverage.com and use the tools provided. It is a good exercise especially if you are going to take out a policy with one of our local insurance agents.* (You are dealing with them I hope?)
But it is the two other assessor benchmarks that we should all be concerned with!
They can only be enhanced by being involved in local politics to make sure our city is healthy and by enacting protections such as the local historic district ordinance and protecting our zoning precautions such as demolition delay, 6C, Lot Width Minimum and special permits.
Tell your ward councilor and also tell the councilors at large – we need protections to make sure our property values, which are the envy in the region, stay safe and secure.
We bought our home specifically because of the consistency of its historic neighborhood. Significant alteration or demolition of historic properties in Newburyport would diminish our experience of living here. Over time, if the historic context is allowed to erode, property values in Newburyport will be far less than they could be.
-Anika Savage, Newburyport, Online Petition, 29 January, 2012
*And yes, I have Insurance for Historic Properties, Part II coming shortly.