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Assessing the real estate market

Town's property values down

November 03, 2009
SOUTHBRIDGE — Preliminary figures released by the assessing department are projecting the town's total property value has fallen by 12.2 percent in the past year, based on sales from 2007 and 2008. But exact details, and what they mean for property taxes themselves, won't be available for another month or so, Assessor Wilfrid Cournoyer said.

Starting today, though, individual property values will be available for owners to look at — and challenge, if something about the place has changed significantly.

"We're starting to see a little bit more of a rise in sale activity," mostly in residential land, Cournoyer said.

Local Realtor Brenda Ryan agreed, noting last month's sales were very good compared to recent months, with 75 percent of them single-family homes, all under $200,000. She predicted the data will show a 20 percent increase overall, "but none of them are condos."

That part of the market is "probably still falling," largely because most of those who might be interested in condos are recently-divorced or retired folks who "aren't moving now because they can't sell their property," Ryan said.

Typically, she said she recommends house-hunters pay less than the assessed values because those are calculated on figures from a year or two ago. But property taxes have traditionally stayed about the same, since the rate rises when values fall to keep the town's budget income fairly stable.

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