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The average home sale price in Southold rose to $1,185,042 in Q2 of 2021, up from $667,277 a year ago. (Photo Credit: OneKey MLS)

It’s no secret the North Fork residential real estate market continues to sizzle.

Last quarter across the region, the average sales price leapt 24.9 percent year-over-year (YOY) to $827,584. Some areas saw markedly big YOY average price jumps. The average sales price in Southold jumped to $1,185,042, up from $667,277 a year ago. Orient experienced a huge leap from $1,213,883 to $2,330,100. In Cutchogue, the average sales price rose from $652,375 to $1,058,962. according to the Second Quarter 2021 Brown Harris Stevens Hamptons Market Report

While all this is good news for sellers, some owners — both relatively new and others longtime — might feel two ways about it. It’s obviously nice to know the value of your home is rising, but you might also be wondering how the frothy market will affect your property tax bill. Is a newly built four-bedroom with high-end finishes and four en-suite bathrooms worth the same as a four decade-old four bedroom that hasn’t been renovated?

The most accurate way to determine the current value of your home is not by Googling — you should talk with a real estate agent or, for the most accurate number, rely on the assessed value of your property (this number is released May 1 in most of New York state).

“Many homeowners are going to be assessed too high based on purchase prices,” said Mackenzie Needham, licensed real estate salesperson, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s Realty.

The good news? If you receive an assessment you suspect is valuing your property higher than you think it deserves to be there are specific actions you can take to lower it.

First, said Marianne Collins, a licensed real estate salesperson with Brown Harris Stevens, is to reach out to the Assessor’s office in your area to pose your questions and get some clarity as to what’s driving your most recent assessment.

Next, you need to do a little research.

“Taxes are assessed in two ways: land value and improvement value,” said Needham. “Compare similar-size lots in the neighborhood to your lot and compare their values. Choose homes in similar age and condition then compare what they are being charged per square foot for improvements versus your property. Then add the two assessed values together and see if there is a major difference.” 

If after that you still believe your property tax assessment is too high, you can “file a grievance with the tax assessor in the township where their property is located,” she said. Suffolk County residents must do this by May 17, 2022.

“To support the appeal, you need to show that your property is overvalued or that other properties on the same assessment roll are being taxed at a lower rate,” said Collins. “An agent can help by providing information on comparable properties with their current taxes.” 

You can find the grievance forms online and complete them yourself. 

There are also private companies who can assist if you don’t want to take it on yourself. They will typically research your case, fill out and file the paperwork and represent you in court if necessary.

The fees such firms charge can vary. Most take a percentage of the cost savings received from a revised assessment, in addition to filing and court fees.

“It makes sense,” said Collins, “given that properties are trading at higher prices that re-assessments will occur taking into account those higher market values.”