Real Estate Assessments
A Real Estate Assessment is the value placed on a property appearing in Fairfield’s Grand List of properties. It is the basis upon which the property tax levy is distributed among property owners in our community. In order to determine the tax liability of a particular property, the property assessment less any exemptions is multiplied by the mill rate (see calculation explanation under Tax Rates).
In Connecticut, an assessment is equal to 70% of a property’s estimated fair market value as established by the Tax Assessor in a revaluation year. Real estate revaluations are performed on a periodic schedule, established by State Law. Fairfield’s last revaluation was effective for the Grand List of October 1, 2010. Fairfield’s latest revaluation is effective for the Grand List of October 1, 2015.
What is Fair Market Value and How is That Determined?
Fair market value is a legal term defined by the courts as the most probable price a property would bring on the open market, given prudent, knowledgeable and willing buyers and sellers. Fair market value is the standard by which the fairness of all assessments are judged.
The buyer and seller of real estate determine the fair market value of real estate. The appraiser or assessor analyzes real estate transactions that occur within a community and determine the factors that lead to the final sale prices. Information developed through the analysis of these sales is used by appraisers and assessors to develop mathematical models that are utilized in estimating the market values of all properties in a community. Some of the typical factors that are used by an appraiser in estimating market values include location, condition, age, size and quality of Improvements.
Information on Assessments
The assessment of your property is always the value as of October 1. If changes are made to a home affecting its value, the homeowner will receive notice within 10 days of the signing of the grand list (typically signed by January 31st of each year) informing of the changed assessment. Please remember that the values established during the 10/1/2015 revaluation remain the same until the anticipated 10/1/2020 revaluation unless changes are made to your property.
You can access recent property transfers by street address on Vision Appraisal. The “last updated” column database page indicates date of last data update.
All assessors must follow the CT General Statutes (primarily Title 12) and relevant case law. In addition, the State of Connecticut Office of Policy & Management, Intergovernmental Policy Division prescribes regulations and issues administrative pronouncements dealing with the administration of statutes related to assessment practices.
Property Record (Field) Cards
Property Record Cards, more commonly known as Field Cards, provide a description of real property and contain information such as owner, dwelling and land information and valuation (appraised and assessed) information. Official Property Record Cards are only available through the Assessor's Office. Summary Property Record Cards are available online. Click here for more information on Property Record Cards.
Other Sources of Real Estate Data
Information on zoning related matters are best addressed through the Town Plan and Zoning Department. Information on taxes due may be obtained through the Office of the Tax Collector. The most recent property transactions recorded may be obtained through the Office of the Town Clerk.
Real Estate data is available in electronic form. Please contact the Assessor's office with specific data requests.
Property Data Corrections
Call the Assessor's office and provide name, phone number and the nature of the data correction. An Assessor’s staff member will follow up on all requests by calling and if necessary, setting up a date and time for a property inspection.
What are Income and Expense Reports?
All owners of properties which are rented in whole or in part, including (but not limited to) office, retail, industrial, mixed-use properties, and residential properties containing five or more units must file an Income and Expense Report.
Income and Expense report instructions and forms can be found here.
Is An Assessment Fair?
In order to judge the fairness of an assessment, two questions should be asked. First, does the assessment represent 70% of the probable selling price as of the date of the assessment? Second, is the assessment similar to comparable properties in the area? The Assessor's Office maintains information that will help answer these questions. A list of properties that have sold and lists of assessments of all properties in town can be reviewed in the Assessor's Office or on Vision Appraisal.
How Do I Appeal My Real Estate Assessment?
The object of Fairfield's October 1, 2015 revaluation was to equalize property values throughout the town. Current assessments represent 70% of October 1, 2015 Fair Market Value. All assessment appeals must be supported by 2015 market data, which is available on lists at the Assessors Office in Town Hall or online at Vision Government Solutions website. Enter Assessor's Online Database, and click on Sales Search. If a homeowner feels an assessment is inequitable, click on this instructions and information link for more information on the assessment appeals process.
Note: State Law allows the Board to elect not to conduct hearings for commercial properties with an assessment over $1,000,000. If, after meeting with the Board of Assessment Appeals you are still not satisfied with your valuation, you can make application for remedy to the Superior Court within 60 days from the date of the mailing of a Board of Assessment Appeals Action Notice (CGS 12-117a).
Click here for a copy of the Real Property Appeal Application Form