The Assessor’s Office is responsible for uniformly and accurately valuing all property both real and personal located within the Town of Agawam. The valuation date is January 1 of each year. Currently the values generated by the Assessor's Office are reviewed and certified every three years by the Department of Revenue. After the next scheduled Triennial Update in FY 2019, a five year update schedule will begin.
Interim Year Adjustments
The Assessor's Office must also maintain the values in the years between certifications, which are called Interim Year Adjustments. This is done so that each property taxpayer in the community pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government in proportion to the assessed value of each taxable property. The Assessor's Office is required to assess real and business personal property at market value every year.
Community Financial Management
The Assessor's Office has a major role in promoting effective financial management in the community. By keeping values at the market standard, the Assessor's Office assists in maximizing the resources available to fund the municipal services expected by residents. Property taxes are one of the major sources of funding for the community services enjoyed by the taxpayers -- schools for their children, police and fire protection, and the upkeep of municipal roads.
Fair Market Value
Valuation in Massachusetts is based on "full and fair cash value", the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller on the open market. The Assessor's Office must collect, record, and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value of all taxable property in the community.
Size of the building, type, and quality of construction, number of rooms, baths, fireplaces, type of heating system, land area and location of the property are all examples of the data listed on individual property record cards before the valuation process can begin. The Assessor's Office may not have to go inside each property before every revaluation if records are kept up to date and building permits are checked and recorded for changes in individual properties. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue mandates that an attempt to do an interior inspection of all real property in town occurs within a ten-year inspection cycle.
Estimating the "full and fair cash value" or "market value" of most residential property involves analyzing similar properties that have sold on the open market and creating a valuation model that reflects those sales. This valuation model is then applied to the rest of the properties in town. This method is primarily used for single-family homes, multifamily homes, condominiums and vacant land. Valuation techniques for commercial and industrial properties also include analysis from an investment point of view, since the purchase price the buyer is willing to pay depends in part on the return he expects to receive. Projected rents and expenses are analyzed and then capitalized to arrive at an estimated market value through the income approach to value.
Note: It is important to note that the Assessor's office does not create value. Rather, the Assessor's Office has the legal responsibility to discover, analyze and reflect the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.
Also, the Assessor's Office does not make the laws that govern property assessments and taxes. Tax laws are enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature and various guidelines and regulations to implement the legislation are established by the Department of Revenue.