Home sale prices and property valuation for taxes aren’t the same — but they’re related, which is why assessments for taxation of Concord homes are going up 15%. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Concord’s assessed property values up 15% for Fiscal 2024 

By Celeste Katz Marston  Celeste@theconcordbridge.org
December 12, 2023

To understand why the tax value of a Concord home is going up, you actually have to look backward — two years backward, to be exact.  

On average, the assessed value of a home is going up 15% for Fiscal Year 2024 — but that’s based on home sales data from 2022, says Town Assessor Meredith Stone.  

What’s more, “how values are generated [is] totally separate from the budget, what we need to bring in any of the levy … it has nothing to do with any of that,” Stone says. “Sales from calendar year 2022 generate 2024’s [valuations].” 

Fresh information about property valuations is now available on the town website, concordma.gov.  

The assessor paused to discuss why the values are jumping by about 15% in order to make one thing clear: Property assessments aren’t going up because of the new residential tax exemption first authorized by the Select Board in August and formally adopted late last month after a heated public hearing.  

On seeing property valuations rise, “I think [people] go, ‘Oh, it’s because of this exemption…’ [and] it’s not. The sales in 2022 have shown and proven that the values need to increase,” Stone says.  

The 10% residential tax exemption, made official in November, will shift the tax burden to Concord’s more expensive homes.  

During the impassioned public comment session, some residents — and Select Board members — said the exemption will ease pressure on aging longtime homeowners.  

Others said the new tax structure unfairly sticks more prosperous families with more of the bill for projects the entire town voted to support, such as a new middle school which will cost Concord more than $100 million.   

But Stone said the new exemption approved this year had nothing to do with property valuations — and what’s more, those valuations aren’t based on this year’s housing market.  

Tax officials go back two years to look at sale prices. That allows them to look at a full calendar year of data at the time they have to calculate values. For the 2024 tax year, decisions are made this year and 2022 is the last full year of home sale information available. 

The median sale price of a single-family Concord home has increased steadily over the past five years, according to statistics compiled by the Warren Group, a Peabody-based firm that tracks real estate data.  

In 2019, for example, there were 200 single-family home sales in Concord with a median price of about $1.19 million. In 2022, there were 192 such sales — but the median price had jumped to about $1.45 million. 

“It’s the supply versus demand issue, especially in a place like Concord where there’s not necessarily a lot of buildable lots anymore,” said Cassidy Norton, the Warren Group’s associate publisher. 

Interest rates have also had an impact on the scarcity of homes on the market, Norton said. Even if high market prices make selling look like a potential bonanza, a homeowner faces much higher mortgage rates on buying a new place to live, “so even if you downsize, you maybe have a less expensive home and much more expensive interest rate,” she said.  

When people hesitate to lose their current interest rate, fewer homes go up for sale and the people who do choose to sell can charge even more in a tight market.  

Valulations don’t necessarily go up every year, Stone said. For example, “in 2008, they decreased so much that we had to go in and change them and lower them, because [homes] weren’t selling like they were before because the market was crashing.”  

Now, in Concord, “A lot of people want to get in here. [The] town has all these benefits and beautiful history, and people come from all over the world to go to these private schools … There’s not enough inventory, [so] they’re paying for whatever it takes to get in,” she said. 

Some property owners may seek tax abatements — separate from the residential exemption — because they feel the town set assessments are too high, Stone acknowledged. That may especially be the case for people who look at the sales in their neighborhood and are flabbergasted at the prices.  

“People are like, ‘The person down the street just bought that for $5.5 million? Mine’s not worth that,’ and they file for an abatement, feeling [their home is] grossly overvalued. And then the next year, they’re selling for $3.5 million, $4.5 million,” Stone said. 

The assessments are based on a variety of factors, such as the finished square footage of the home, the style, the land area and the neighborhood.  

“Town votes and things of that nature have nothing to do with the value,” Stone said, “It doesn’t work that way. The values are what your home is worth.” 

To find the updated assessment on a Concord home, visit concordma.gov/164/Assessing and click the link for Fiscal Year 2024 information. There, you’ll find data for residential and commercial property values, condominium values, and the 2022 sales used to update the numbers.  

The new residential tax rate under the exemption program will be $13.13 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.