2019-2020 Town-Wide Revaluation FAQ

The Town of Lyman has contracted KRT Appraisal to conduct a town-wide real estate revaluation.

KRT is an appraisal firm with years of experience conducting Maine revaluations. They are mailing out notices under the Assessing Office’s name, alerting property owners that a representative will be visiting their property within 45 days; you may call the assessor’s office to have a representative schedule a visit if you want to set a specific date and time. Otherwise, the visits are done working in a neighborhood in the manner┬ámost efficient for the representative. The assessing office is available for any questions you may have about the process; KRT’s website can be visited by clicking here.

  • What is a revaluation?

During a revaluation, usually called a “reval” for short, data collectors visit every property in town to check the accuracy of the tax assessor’s records regarding the land and buildings of each property; building details checked include things like square footage, age, upkeep, and the interior and exterior’s quality of construction, while land details checked include things like neighborhood, site condition, and access. Once the collected information is checked for QA and entered into the Town’s computer system, recent costs of construction and selling prices for properties are studied to observe how much people pay for different land and building types. This cost and sale information is used to create a standardized system where similar properties are assessed with similar values. (For some commercial and rental properties, a method comparing the income the property generates to its market value is used instead.) Once the system is in place, property owners are informed of their tentative new values and have a chance to visit to dispute their new values. After any disputes are resolved, the new values are used for that year’s tax assessments.

  • Why does Lyman need a reval?

By State Law, real estate property is supposed to be assessed in relation to fair market value – how much one would expect a property to sell for on average if neither the buyer or seller was subject to undue pressure, such as foreclosure, a need to move, or a personal relationship with the other party. A town’s tax assessor is responsible for trying to watch market trends to see what people are paying for different types of land and buildings, and then adjusting the assessment methodology they use to price land and buildings in town accordingly. However, this assessment system can only produce reasonable results if the data it contains is accurate. While assessors try to be on top of new construction and other property changes, some people don’t alert the town of their projects, and two identical properties might not be maintained the same; having a revaluation crew visit the whole town in one go ensures that our information is updated and that everyone is on a level playing field. It’s not fair to have one person being assessed based on recent, accurate information, while their neighbor hasn’t had their information updated in a decade.

Additionally, State Law states that a town should conduct a revaluation at least once every 10 years. Lyman hasn’t done a reval since 2006, so we are overdue!

  • Do I need to let data collectors into my house?

It is your right to deny data collectors entry to your property, but when they cannot directly inspect your property, they must estimate. Estimates may result in a much higher or lower assessment than what you could actually sell for – if it’s too high, you’ll pay more than your fair share in taxes, and if it’s too low, you may have trouble selling your home for as much as you’d like. In both cases, an estimated assessment can contribute to an unfair and inaccurate assessment system.

If you are worried about what the data collectors will see in your home, remember that these are professionals who visit thousands of houses every year. They have no interest in your personal life; the only thing they’re concerned with is determining the market value of your home. Please also be aware that any interior pictures of your home are confidential to the assessor’s office, and are only used for valuation purposes. We take your privacy seriously, so please inform us with any concerns about a data collector’s behavior immediately.

  • Is the Town doing a reval to try to get more tax dollars?

Spending is not changed at all by a reval. Whatever is spent by the Town, the County, and the School is determined by budgeting processes completely unrelated to the Assessing Office; your assessment just dictates your share of the spending in the form of taxes. For example, if you own .002% of the total town value, you pay .002% of the town’s budget, no matter how high or low that budget may be.

  • What if I disagree with my value?

At the end of the reval process, informal hearings will be scheduled with anyone who disputes their value. If you have such a dispute, you should be prepared to show WHY you think your value is wrong – whether this be because details┬ásuch as story height or square footage are incorrect , or because you can show that similar properties in your area sold for a markedly different price, or because you have a recent certified appraisal that is markedly different from the new valuation.

Please remember that assessments are meant to represent an average selling price – every situation and negotiation between buyer and seller is different, resulting in unique selling prices. Being 10% off is no big issue in the world of mass appraisal. However, if we are well informed about market conditions, we should be able to agree in general whether or not a valuation passes the straight face test.

  • Why did my value change so much? There’s no way my value could change so much in one year!

Real estate assessments are estimates, and these estimates can change for a variety of reasons –

  • the information the assessing office had about your individual property could have been incorrect for a long time; for example, what if your garage was never assessed when it was built, or your story height was listed incorrectly? Perhaps you maintained your property much better than properties of similar age?
  • an aspect of the town-wide pricing model used to assess properties could have been out of date; for example, maybe people are paying more now for 1 story homes than they used to, as single floor living has become more popular? Is your neighborhood more attractive to buyers now than during the last reval?
  • sometimes, values DO jump drastically in just a year, merely because average prices can change rapidly. York County is a hot market at the moment; you may be shocked at how much people are willing to pay for a home! Websites like Zillow, Redfin, or the Maine Real Estate Network are great places to look at what people are asking in your area. Try not to get your socks knocked off when you take a look.
  • I have other questions.

Feel free to email, call, or visit the assessor. Click here to view the contact information is listed on the main Assessor’s Page.