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Hot housing market has Amherst reassessing

A hot housing market in parts of Amherst means that more homeowners are likely to have their properties reassessed this year.

The Town of Amherst plans to update the assessments on several thousand more residential properties than originally anticipated, because home values are out of sync in some neighborhoods where houses are selling quickly and for more than what they’re assessed by the town, said Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.

Amherst plans to hire a consultant to help appraise a minimum of 5,000 residential properties by early May, said Assessor Ann M. Terranova.

That’s on top of the 7,300 homes to which the town had already expected to send reassessment notices this year.

“The housing values are going up in Amherst faster than we can keep up with it,” Weinstein said. “We’re going to try to redouble our efforts.”

Amherst last did a townwide revaluation in 2009. Since then, the town has annually analyzed home sale statistics showing the sale price and assessed value. Amherst then updates those neighborhoods where the sale price is exceeding the assessed value.

But it has been harder for the Assessor’s Office to keep up and remain at full value over the last couple of years, as the market has exploded, Terranova said. The more than 12,000 residential properties the town expects to reassess this year – based on the data and a drive-by – is more than double what it would normally do in a year, she said.

The final tax roll is set in July, and property owners legally have until the end of July to file a formal assessment appeal.

Terranova, however, said she would know better in the next week or so exactly which neighborhoods would be targeted this year for an update, although it’s not hard to figure out based on what has been happening in the housing market.

“We do see really high activity in the village area, as well as Snyder and certain properties in East Amherst,” said Barry J. Chubb, president of Coldwell Banker Chubb Real Estate. “Inventory is extremely low, and there’s just an awful lot of demand, with the interest rates as low as they are. There are still more buyers than there is quality inventory.”

Chubb pointed to a few real estate transactions to show what has been happening in parts of Amherst over the last year.

A four-bedroom, 2½-bath home on Garland Drive is assessed at $132,200, but sold last August for $155,000. A four-bedroom house with two full baths on Hedstrom Drive is assessed at $126,300, but sold in August for $164,000. And a three-bedroom, 1½-bath residence on Hendricks Boulevard is assessed for $126,000, but sold in October for $166,000.

“There’s a number of factors,” Chubb said. “Obviously, the school district is a strong driving force when you look at who many of the buyers are – young families. But then there’s also a trend, as we’ve seen with certain parts of the city, where empty-nesters are considering being within walking distance of conveniences.”