Spiking home values push up tax bills in Monadnock Region, state
Some homeowners are experiencing sticker shock this month when they receive their property tax bills.
Residential property values in the area and statewide shot up during the pandemic as people fled big cities, where real estate is often pricey, and relocated to New Hampshire, which has a relatively small supply of housing to be purchased. Meanwhile, the value of commercial property is rising far slower amid reduced demand for offices and shops.
The result has been that owners of homes and condominiums are seeing their property tax bills jump even in cases where local governmental spending hasn’t increased.
If the government tax-collection effort was a pie that was the same size this year as last, the piece of pie to be paid for by residential property taxpayers has grown.
“The same amount of taxes still needs to be raised based on the needs and budgets of the city, school and county,” the Keene city assessing department said in a statement posted on the city’s website. “A larger portion of those taxes are now being covered by residential owners based on their increases outpacing the rest of the property classes in the City.”
This phenomenon is occurring statewide, said James Gerry, director of the Municipal and Property Division at the N.H. Department of Revenue Administration.
“This year saw property values skyrocket throughout the state,” he said. “The Manchester-Nashua market remains one of the hottest in the country, and the Concord market is not that far off. Assessed valuations are going up dramatically throughout the state of New Hampshire.”
The Department of Revenue Administration is still drawing up 2021 tax rates for municipalities, but of the more than 200 rates set so far, those in Keene and some surrounding communities are among the highest in the state.
In 2020, Keene’s tax rate, $37.28 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, yielded a tax of $11,184 for a home worth $300,000.
Keene City Assessor Dan Langille said properties were revalued this year for the first time since 2016. The revaluation showed that as of April, prices on single-family homes had increased 25 percent.
If the home worth $300,000 last year gained 25 percent in value this year, it would now be worth $375,000 for tax purposes.
The amount to be raised for taxes for municipal, county, state and local education in Keene has remained at about $68 million this year and last. The tax rate dropped to $31.28 this year, but the tax bill for that $375,000 home would be $11,730, or $546 higher than last year’s.
Residential property prices continue to increase.
“We haven’t run the new sales after April 1, but I’ve seen estimates of from 15 percent to 20 percent more in price increases since then,” Langille said.
“The climbing price of residential is outpacing everything else, so it’s accounting for more of the pie, which is hard.”
Bill Chatfield of Peterborough said his property tax bill increased 11.8 percent this year, the most in the eight years he has lived in his 1,500-square-foot, two-story home, about a mile south of downtown.
The assessed value of his home on Old Dublin Road increased 33 percent, he said. The assessment is at $267,100, according to its current property tax card.
“Property tax bills have fluctuated, and the highest single-year increase was maybe 5 percent, until this year, when the increase was more than double that,” said Chatfield, 74, who retired in 2014 after more than 40 years with the U.S. Postal Service.
“It’s not that easy for a lot of people and retirees in general, unless you have supplemental income. I don’t see much of an increase in income year to year. As an ex-government employee, it’s not going to be anywhere near 11.8 percent.”
On the other hand, he feels New Hampshire’s property tax, typically one of the highest in the nation, is just one of the tradeoffs for living in the Granite State, where there is no individual income tax and no general sales tax.
And people generally support the things paid for by the property tax, he said.
“People want a new library, a new bridge,” Chatfield said. “The fire station is not in great shape. And most of us want our kids to be well educated.
“Property taxes will continue to go up. Que sera, sera.”
Ali Kreutz, the Peterborough assessing clerk, said the assessment on her home in Peterborough went up 41 percent this year, and her tax bill went up 17 percent.
Assessed value on single-family homes in the town went up about 30 to 40 percent this year after a statistical review of property sales, she said. Commercial properties had an average increase of 11 percent.
Homebuyer demand is off the charts.
“It’s pretty common for a house in a desirable neighborhood to hit the market and be there for only a day before they get offers,” she said.
Municipalities have appeal processes for those who believe their assessment is incorrect. Exemption and credit programs may also be available.
More information is available at municipal websites and at the Department of Revenue Administration.
New Hampshire municipal websites:
N.H. Department of Revenue Administration: