I attended the Ward “A” revaluation meeting on April 3rd and had a chance to listen to a representative from Appraisal Systems, Inc., the third-party appraisal firm hired by Jersey City to conduct the revaluation. Mark Duda presented; he is an ASI executive and the designated ASI “project manager” for Jersey City’s revaluation.
ASI, Inc. is one of just a few firms in NJ that conducts mass re-appraisals. A listing of all the revaluations that ASI is conducting in NJ can be found here.
Additionally, there is a Jersey City-specific landing page on ASI’s website here, which includes: (a) explanatory materials presented to the public during the Ward meetings; (b) a listing of all approved inspectors assigned to Jersey City’s revaluation, and (c) a “progress map” which shows, in green shaded highlights, where the inspectors are currently appraising. As an aside: this is a tax map, which means it’s aimed at appraisers, assessors, and others who work in the property tax space…as such, it is, in my opinion, a user-unfriendly map for the public at large. Regardless, street names are available. Also, Duda promised a more user-friendly map would be available “soon” through work ASI is doing with the Jersey City “Innovation” team headed up by Brian Platt.
Mr. Duda led the public through a PowerPoint presentation that is available here. Some highlights of Mr. Duda’s comments during the Ward “A” meeting are detailed below.
- Inspectors’ first visits to each property will be unannounced, and between the hours of 9am and 5:30pm. Maps are provided by ASI here to show residents where inspections are taking place.
- ASI Inc. inspectors are given Jersey City Police Department-issued ID badges. Inspectors should clearly identify themselves to all residents when coming to inspect properties.
- All inspectors authorized to work on the Jersey City revaluation are listed on ASI’s website here. Car license plate, physical description, and photos are included. As an example, this is one inspector’s page on ASI’s Jersey City project:
Duda emphasized that to accurately appraise the property, inspectors must be allowed to see the property, both inside and out. If residents don’t allow inspectors inside, it “puts appraiser at disadvantage”, per Duda. There are a series of potential inspection visits:
- The first visit will include, at a minimum, an exterior inspection. Information gathered includes: (a) outside influences…is it next to commercial property? On a busy road? In a flood zone? Does it have a view? Etc. (b) measure the exterior footprint of the structure (home or building). (c) style of house, including looking at comparable sales in neighborhood over 2-3 year period. (d) condition and quality of home. (e) overall construction quality.
- If homeowners are not at home during the first visit, a “Fed-Ex style sticker” will be left for property owners, who can then schedule, in advance, a second follow-up visit.
There is a lot more detail about the inspection process in ASI’s presentation available here.
Regarding Comparable Sales:
Mr. Duda explained that, in addition to inspections of properties, recent comparable sales would be a key determinant to measuring new assessment values. But “comparable” means truly comparable, i.e. comparing a home on Ocean Avenue in Greenville to a home on Marin Boulevard is not “comparable”. Therefore, ASI has endeavored to create a “neighborhood map” which will carve out specific neighborhoods within each ward. There will be approximately 39 neighborhoods, per Duda, and available online once complete (as of this writing, the map is not yet available). Neighborhood boundaries will determine sales that are used as comparables. [I will note here, as an aside, that recent comparable sales are the single biggest factor in the tax appeal process (so it makes sense that these sales would also be a determinant during the revaluation process).]
Regarding Valuation Dates
Per Duda, at the end of the process, all properties will receive an updated assessment value as of October 1, 2017. These 2017 values will replace the current assessment values that date back to 1988. Homeowners will have an appeals process available to them, similar to regular tax years, though there are slight differences (e.g. in a citywide revaluation year, there is an extra month in the timeline to appeal).
A few observations to shed context on what’s coming down the pike.
First, per the city’s compliance plan submitted to the NJ Division of Taxation, inspections were supposed to start in September 2016. Given that inspections didn’t start until the March 2017 timeframe, the city is now operating on a 6-month delay, which will put pressure on ASI and the city to complete this mass re-appraisal within the allotted timeframe.
At the Ward “A” meeting, ASI’s Mark Duda stated his firm had the resources to complete the Revaluation per the planned deadline dates.
Second, the maps provided by ASI are not user friendly, as I mentioned above. ASI’s assurances that newer, more user friendly maps are forthcoming, yet not yet available, shed light on just one of many pressures likely facing ASI and the city. Let’s hope more user friendly maps – with zoom in / out capability and the ability to search for address (similar to or based on Google maps) are made available before too many assessments are completed.
Have a question about the Revaluation in Jersey City?