Real Estate FAQs


 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

At what ratio is property assessed?

100% of full and fair cash value.

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What does 100% of full and fair cash value mean?

The courts have defined this phrase to mean "current market value", the price arrived at by a willing buyer and a willing seller, each with a good knowledge of the market and each acting without undue pressure or compulsion. Thus, in determining value, assessors seek to approximate what property would sell for on the open market, within an acceptable range of error.

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How do I check ownership or valuation of property?

Go to "Public Access" Search or, if you need certified owner information you can either (a) go in to the Assessor's Office for this information or (b) mail in a request for information, with an inquiry fee of $1.00 per parcel. All properties listed on the Assessing web site are sorted by street address, owners’ name or by Map, Block and Lot number, sometimes referred to as the Parcel ID.

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What is a Map, Block and Lot ?

The combination of the Map, Block and Lot is a unique parcel identifier (PID) assigned to each individual property in a given community. For example, Map 4A, Block 44 and Lot 1 (referred to as Parcel ID 004.A-0044-001.0) uniquely identifies a specific parcel located at 444 Main Street, for instance, in the community that is being referenced.

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How do I change my mailing address for tax billing?

Contact the Assessor's office in the community where the property is located. They can take the information over the phone or, will send a form to be filled out and returned.

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When do I file for overvaluation abatement?

You must file between January 1 and February 1 of the tax year.

However, you should ask yourself three questions before filing for an abatement:

Is the data on my property correct?

Is my value in line with others on my street?

Is my value in line with recent sale prices in my neighborhood?

The Assessing staff will be happy to assist you to determine whether your assessment is fair and equitable.

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Where do I file an abatement application?

You can file an application with the Assessor's Office.

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When are real property tax bills mailed and payments due?

Tax bills are mailed four times a year. The quarterly tax payments are due on the following dates: August 1st; November 1st; February 1st; May 1st.

The bills are sent thirty (30) days prior to these due dates. Payments are due thirty days from the date the tax bill is issued.

*Please note some communities are semi-annual or bills are mailed twice a year.

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Where should I mail my real estate tax payment?

I live in:
BERKLEY - BERNARDSTON - BROOKFIELD - CHESTER - EAST BROOKFIELD - EGREMONT - HARDWICK - HEATH - HOLLISTON - LANCASTER - LUNENBURG - MATTAPOISETT - ROYALSTON - SOMERSET - SWANSEA - TOLLAND

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What happens if I do not pay my tax bill?

Tax payments must be received on or before the due date to avoid interest charges. If payment is not made within 30 days of the original date of mailing, the account will begin to accrue interest at the rate of 14% per annum, computed from the date the bill was due. A demand notice will be sent and a demand fee of $5.00 is charged against the account. If the account remains outstanding 14 days after the issuance of the demand notice, a warrant notice is sent. The warrant fee is $9.00. Please note that demand and warrant notices are sent only on the third and fourth quarter bills. If the account remains delinquent after June 30th of the fiscal year, a tax lien (a legal claim placed on property for debt) is placed on the property and is recorded with the Registry of Deeds. In addition, the property is placed in the tax title system. A tax lien is the first step in the foreclosure process. All taxes, costs and interest must be paid to prevent foreclosure.

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What do I need to do if my mortgage company pays my taxes?

If your taxes are escrowed by a bank or mortgage company, you will want to ensure that they make timely payment. Most banks and mortgage companies subscribe to a tax service that will notify them directly of the amount they need to pay for your taxes. However, if you have recently purchased, refinanced, or have a mortgage company that does not subscribe to a tax service, it will be up to you to notify them by forwarding your tax bill to them. DO NOT change your mailing address on your tax bill to be sent directly to the mortgage company. It will impede you from receiving proper notice of unpaid taxes. You may request that your mortgage company receive a duplicate tax bill if necessary by contacting the Collector's Office.

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Why should I pay interest on a late payment when I never received my tax bill?

Under state law, failure to receive a bill does not affect the validity of the tax or any interest or fines incurred due to late payment(s). It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to secure his/her tax bill when one is not received. You can request a duplicate tax bill by calling the Collector's Office to request the form. The Collector's Office will mail you a remittance slip on request. However, the request must be received early enough to allow sufficient time to avoid late charges.

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How can I change the tax bill to my name, after purchasing a parcel of property?

New owners will be automatically updated by the Assessor’s Office upon receipt of a copy of the recorded deed from the Registry of Deeds. If the sale is very close to a tax due date, you may call the Treasurer’s Office for a remittance slip to be sent to you. You may also update the mailing address on the bill by filing out a form from the Tax Collector's Office. The Collector of Taxes is required by Massachusetts General Law to issue the bill to the assessed owner as of January 1. Therefore, the old owner and the new owner will receive a tax bill until the following January 1.

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Who is responsible for the taxes if a property is sold after January 1?

Although the tax bill will bear the name of the assessed owner as of January 1, the new owner is responsible for all taxes once the sale of the property is finalized. The amount of tax owed by the old owner is determined at the time of closing and is typically deducted from the selling price. Once this deduction is made, the new owner must pay all bills, as they become due in order to avoid collection actions, including foreclosure. The lawyers assisting each party should already have investigated any outstanding taxes and obtained a Municipal Lien Certificate. Once the agreement is made, the new owner is obligated to pay any outstanding taxes due on the property.

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What should I do if I recently sold my property, but I am still receiving a tax bill?

In most cases, if the deed has been recorded at least 6 weeks prior to the issue date of the tax bill, the new owner will also receive a copy of the tax bill. If you receive a bill within 6 weeks of the sale, please forward it to the new owner immediately as it is his/her responsibility to make payment.

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What happens if the check I mail 'bounces'?

If your check is returned due to insufficient funds, absence of signature, or technical error, the account will have the same status as an 'unpaid' account. You will receive notice from the Collector of Taxes notifying you of the insufficient funds. As provided by law, a penalty charge of $25.00 or 1% of the amount of the check (whichever is greater) will be assessed to your tax account for each bad check received, in addition to any other fees and interest applicable. You will be required to make payment by cash, certified check, or money order within 10 days.

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What happens when a tax bill is paid, but you receive a demand notice for tax not paid, or, you find out that you overpaid?

If you or your mortgage company have paid the tax bill and for some reason you receive a demand notice for non-payment of the tax due, you must provide proof of payment. Please call the Tax Collector's Office for the requirements.

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What if I have a credit on my account?

A refund check is issued to a taxpayer who has a credit balance on their bill, provided that they supply the City with the proper information and they have no other outstanding taxes due and payable to the City.

If the credit was caused by overpayment, a request for refund should be accompanied by a copy of the canceled checks (front and back) for the fiscal year(s) in which the credit(s) exist. If the property has recently been purchased or refinanced, please also include a copy of the HUD Settlement Statement, which lists the details of the taxes paid at the closing. Please include your name, the property address, and the parcel ID with your request and payment information to the Town's Treasurer’s Office.

If the credit was caused by abatement, the refund will automatically be issued unless the property has changed hands during the fiscal year. When the credit on a Real Estate bill is a result of an abatement, the refund total may include 8% interest. The refund interest is calculated from the abatement date or the due date of the tax (whichever is later), to the issue date of the refund.

The refund will usually be returned to the record owner. If the property has been sold during the fiscal year to a new owner, the date of transfer (deed date) and the information on the HUD Settlement Statement will determine who is eligible for the refund.

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How do I get a municipal lien certificate? How much will it cost and how long does it take?

If you wish to obtain a Municipal Lien Certificate, the following are required:

List the Parcel ID (Map, Block and Lot.), owner’s name, property location, include $25 per parcels requested and a self-addressed stamped envelope if you wish the municipal lien certificate mailed to you. Acceptable forms of payment: attorney’s check, certified or registered check, and cash (if in person). Please allow ten (10) business days for processing. Mail your request to the Assessor's office in the community that the property is located.

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