BUYER BEWARE: A MUST FOR ANYONE BUYING A HOME IN MAPLEWOOD AT THIS POINT IN TIME!

By mark-slade February 7, 2011

Working with two different buyer clients this weekend, I was happy to finally find them both their home of choice to set up shop in Maplewood.  But, here is the rub, for many of the buyers out there and for most of the agents showing homes, there is a serious DISCONNECT with regard to reported taxes.  For some reason, the GSMLS is still reporting 2009 taxes.  If you are using these numbers with your mortgage/budget calculations, you are using a rate that is 21 basis points lower than what you will actually be paying this year.  The tax rate for 2009/10 was 4.66% and the tax rate for 2010/11 was published at 4.87% in October of 2010.  This differential isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but here is the RUB:
  If you are buying a home in Maplewood, you need to be aware that Maplewood is still putting the finishing touches on its recent ReVal–new appraisals were initiated and a new total town ratable will be calculated as well as a new and lower tax rate as the property values in Maplewood have risen by about 60%, on average, during the past 10 years.  While the overall town budget will remain the same, Maplewood will now have higher values for its homes–considered to be reflective of fair market conditions–and, as a result, a lower tax rate reported to be about 3.029% (see maplewood patch and appraisal systems website).
   While this “revenue neutral” scenario looks good on paper, what can be missing is when a home has been newly valued in excess of the 60% increase average for the town.  As an example, I showed a home with $16,700 in taxes reported on the MLS and my buyers, were ready to pounce on this home.  When I get back to my office to check out the ASI reports, I see this same home showing as having increased in value by 98%, and with projected taxes of almost $21,000.  You can imagine how my buyers took to this information!  Even more disconcerting is that when I challenged the listing agent, i was provided with a totally an assessed value 13% lower than reported on the ASI website and with a tax rate that was 8% lower than the current published, but not confirmed rate.  Even challenging the agent again, I now have a 3rd set of numbers that are higher than i was first quoted but lower than what ASI says, so taxes would now be in the mid-upper $18,000 range.
   So here is my advice, before you sign and submit your offer, please reach out to your agents and make sure they first provide you with the printable tables from ASI.  Then, you MUST put a call into the town tax assessors office to verify what the number actually is, as a current owner may have successfully argued that your published 2011 value was too high and it may now be lower than published or the township may have made the correction without prompting.  Either way, make sure you know what you are actually BUYING!

For more information, please feel free to contact Mark Slade @ 917.797.5059, email me at marksladehomes@gmail.com or follow my blog or twitter @maplewoodhomey.