Letter: New assessment policy will impact real estate in Barrington

Posted 8/21/19

To the editor:

We are writing as concerned citizens and the people on the front lines of the real estate market in Barrington. We sell property in our beloved town and serve as the gateway for …

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Letter: New assessment policy will impact real estate in Barrington

Posted

To the editor:

We are writing as concerned citizens and the people on the front lines of the real estate market in Barrington. We sell property in our beloved town and serve as the gateway for almost every new resident. We highlight our incredible schools, our many town services, and the consistent value properties hold because of all Barrington has to offer.

In our job as Realtors, we are called upon to explain how properties are assessed and what property tax dollars do for our town. The assessment policy that has been recently implemented by our tax assessor has left us troubled, questioning its fairness and even its legality.

Our deep concerns and many questions are below — 

• As real estate businesses based in Barrington, we believe that recent changes to the way in which some properties are assessed, and the subsequent tax implications, are grossly unfair. From a layman's reading of the RI Supreme Court decision upon which we understand the assessor is basing his new approach, it seems to us he has misinterpreted its intent and scope.

• RI lawmakers have previously established a fair and equitable process of assessment, calling for revaluations every nine years, with statistical updates every three years. We don't believe that these lawmakers contemplated additional re-assessments using any other system.

• We feel strongly that the Barrington assessor's new approach has created a dual system of valuation, whereby new purchasers are treated in a dramatically unequal fashion from their neighbors.

• Our business is based on protecting both the buyer and seller of a property. We employ an extensive disclosure process designed to eliminate any surprises for either party in a transaction. A precipitous change in the tax burden associated with any individual property makes such transparency difficult. 

• Mortgage lenders rely on existing assessed values when qualifying buyers for a mortgage loan. An unexpected increased valuation can have a very negative effect on buyers' ability to qualify for financing and, therefore, on properties' value. 

• In all other RI communities, buyers purchasing a home are able to budget for a known tax bill, based on existing valuations. The uncertainty Barrington's new "system" has created denies homeowners the ability to do this.

• Barrington's new policy has already created some huge anomalies. In more than a few instances, homes that are similar in size, acreage, style and amenities, are assessed at a value 30 percent or more higher than their neighbors following a sale. 

• We, as real estate professionals, most of whom are residents of Barrington, are extremely concerned with this new policy. It creates a true obstacle for people moving to town, as well as for existing residents who want to sell their home.

• We fear that Barrington's aberrant property assessment policy may cause many prospective homebuyers to consider buying in other Rhode Island and Massachusetts communities. Barrington's system will likely appear unfavorable and punitive.

Our roots in this community are deep. We want to see the Town of Barrington continue to grow and prosper. With this letter, we hope to begin a conversation that may address what we believe is an extremely critical issue that could negatively affect the real estate market as well as the character of our town.

Respectfully,

Matthew Antonio

Manager, Keller Williams Realty

Tracey LeRoux

Manager and owner, Link Real Estate

David Coleman

Manager, Mott and Chace Sotheby's Intl., Barrington office

Todd Mosher and Michelle Cartwright

Owners and manager, RE/MAX River's Edge

Libby Isaacson

COO and manager, Residential Properties Lt. 

Note: This letter was addressed to the town manager and members of the town council. 

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