A classic spot assessment is the reassessment of a single recently-sold property that isn’t part of a larger scale reassessment or municipal-wide revaluation.
It is Illegal!
Spot assessments are illegal in New Jersey because the state constitution requires uniform treatment in taxation. In general, reassessments must be performed on all properties as part of a larger reassessment cycle, or else because a single property has been significantly improved upon, to comply with this constitutional requirement. However, when the assessor increases the assessments of only a handful of recently sold properties, he or she has violated this constitutional requirement, and you can seek relief from the increase.
There are unscrupulous assessors who try to take advantage of people’s unfamiliarity with the nuances of the law – it can happen. This is a particular problem in a market where values are rising, as assessors may be tempted to target the low-lying fruit of recently sold property instead of implementing a town-wide reassessment or revaluation.
Assessors may also try to justify the assessment increases because of property improvements. However, minor cosmetic updates such as tidying the landscaping, painting the exterior, fixing a broken shutter, re-hanging a fallen gutter, etc., shouldn’t trigger an increase as no significant improvements were made that would increase property value. However, it still happens!
If you believe your property has been unfairly singled out for an assessment increase, it’s important to contact an attorney immediately who can evaluate your case and secure your right to appeal as it may be impossible to overturn an improper increase otherwise.
And if you were part of a town-wide revaluation, but are concerned or dissatisfied with the new figure, you may still be able to appeal. I provided an overview of the appeal process in this previous blog post. Also, the state of New Jersey has published this pamphlet with some property tax FAQs for property owners, which may be helpful as you review your recent revaluations.
For almost 15 years, I’ve obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in assessment reductions for my clients. I offer a complimentary assessment review to determine your eligibility to appeal. If you decide to go through with filing an appeal, you will receive my personal attention from start to finish as I strive to obtain the best result possible. Contact me with any questions or to schedule a consultation.