Property Values – Assessed vs. Appraised

In my last post, I discussed the calculation of property taxes using the mill rates.  The “rule of thumb” for the assessed value of a property is that it should be approximately 70% of the appraised value.   In theory, the appraised value should be close to the market value of a home, but this is often not the case.  Town appraisals can be very inconsistent.  The most reliable way to determine an accurate appraised value is to hire a licensed independent appraiser to conduct a formal appraisal.  The cost is typically about $400 to $600.     Realtors and real estate agents can create a Current Market Analysis (CMA) to determine market value when pricing a home for sale, but market value and appraised value may not always match up.   There is no exact science to calculating the value of a property and, although an appraisal is considered the most reliable, it still has a level of subjectivity.

Property Tax Calculation – Tax Rates per Town

Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the “mill rate” by every thousand dollars of the towns assessed value of a property.

For example:  A property with an assessed value of $500,000 in the town of Westport would have an annual tax of $9,045, (mill rate = 18.09) but in Fairfield, the tax would be $12,395 where the mill rate is 24.79.  (500,000 x .01809 or 500,000 x .02479)

Mill Rates effective for July 2015 through 2016 are as follows:

Bridgeport – 42.198
Darien – 15.35
Easton – 30.38
Farfield – 24.79
Greenwich – 11.271 or 11.864 w/sewer
New Canaan – 15.985 or 16.562 w/sewer
Norwalk – Varies between districts – 22.852 to 25.43
Stamford – Varies between districts – 24.14 to 25.43
Weston – 28.67
Westport – 18.09
Wilton – 26.8302

Do We Really Need Realtors?

According to the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88 percent of buyers would use their agent again or refer him or her to others. Despite having incredible access to information, buyers and sellers still rely on agents to guide them through the real estate process.

Buyers want their agents to help them find the right home, negotiate a great deal and help them with all the paperwork. Sellers, on the other hand, want their agents to market their home to potential buyers, sell it within a particular period and price it to sell.

Technology hasn’t made agents obsolete — it’s made them more valuable. After all, a computer, tablet or smartphone isn’t going to hold your hand through the process and the Internet certainly won’t infer frustration by your tone of voice and offer reassurance.

Although more and more buyers will use the Internet and mobile devices in their home searches, there’s no doubt that they’ll need the expertise of a trusted agent or broker by their side to help them make this important purchase.

Art as the Starting Point


It is interesting that art is often added as the “final touch” to an interior design.  It is the one thing that never goes out of style.  Art adds more life and personality to a space than anything else.  A beautiful piece of art will always be beautiful and will retain it’s value far longer than anything else.  Furnishings, window treatments, rugs, paint colors all become passe’ after a period of time and need to be continually updated.   An art collection lasts forever.  Consider choosing a piece of art as the starting point for your next decor project .   Let it lead the design of the space around it.

How to select the right real estate agent…..

There are so many to choose from!  How do you know who to pick?   The most important thing is to first know what YOU want.  Sellers should have a definitive time frame for moving as well as a desired sale number in their mind.  Buyers should have a mortgage approval ready so they know exactly what they can spend and then narrow down specific preferences using a worksheet.   The right agent will know how to design a plan specifically for you to achieve your goal and make a good investment.  Ask for it.

Also worth knowing:

Sales agent – anyone who earns a real estate license.  They must conduct all business under a licensed broker or brokerage firm.

REALTOR ® – a sales agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors who must uphold the standards of the association as well as its code of ethics.

Broker – a person educated beyond the agent level, who has passed a broker’s license exam who can work alone or open a brokerage firm and hire agents to work for them.

Designations, i.e. CRS, GRI, ABR  –  awarded when extra courses have been taken and passed.    Other titles (Premier Agent, Presidents Circle, Top 5%, etc.) are assigned by Brokers for achievements representing one or more years.