Will assessments go up for five districts in Cheektowaga?

CHEEKTOWAGA – Residents in five Cheektowaga districts could see their assessments rise once again as a result of the red-hot real estate market in the Buffalo-Niagara region if the Assessors Office decides to take action.

Town Assessor Jill Murphy and Robert Koszarek of KLW Group, a real estate appraisal and consulting service used by the town, told town board members at their Tuesday afternoon work session that the plan this year was supposed to be limited to reassessing commercial properties – something that hasn’t been done since 2014. However, because of a continuation of a positive change in the real estate market, they said they might need to adjust some residential districts to maintain a 100% equalization rate.

“If we just did commercial properties in our commercial majority review we’re looking at possibly the equalization rate dropping from 100%, which has been maintained, down to anywhere as low as 92%,” said Mr. Koszarek.

The Buffalo-Niagara Association of Realtors reported that our region saw an average home sales price in January 2018 of $165,021 – up 16.3% compared to January 2017 when an average home sold for $141,851.

Mr. Koszarek says factors like rising interest rates and the tax reform act could impact the average sales price but in what direction is still unknown.

“Whether or not there will be a correction or just a plateau in the market – I don’t have a crystal ball,” added Mr. Koszarek.  “For residents to understand, their assessments reflect market value, but I think we need to take a look at maybe the methodology of what we’ve been doing with the changing market. Our project plans may have to change.”

Ms. Murphy did not have the specific districts available during the public work session Tuesday evening when asked for by Councilmember Linda Hammer but said she would get them to the town board members.

On Friday, Cheektowaga Chronicle requested the districts from the town but was told they would not be released to the public while internal discussions are still ongoing.

Supervisor Diane Benczkowski – who has been in real estate for the past 30 years – appears to be taking a cautious approach to reassessing the districts. 

“They all show an increase, which is a good thing,” said Ms. Benczkowski Tuesday. “I’m just worried that if we go through all of this work and reassess five districts, and then all of a sudden the bottom falls out next year and we’re way over, then we’ll need to redo it again.”

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