This is Jean McMillen. The date is March 12, 2013. I am interviewing Barbara Bigos who is the Assessor for the town of Salisbury. I am interviewing her at the Town Hall. File number 53.
JM:May I have your full name?
BB:My name is Barbara Bigos.
JM:May I have your birthdate, if you choose?
BB:October 28, 1949
JM:Your parents’ names, please.
BB:My father was William Havlock Bodmin and my mother was Shirley Arlene Drinkwater, her maiden name. Actually Havlock was the name of the doctor who delivered my father.
JM:Do you have siblings?
BB:I have two sisters. I have a younger sister who is 13 years younger than myself Angela who still lives in Maine. I have an older sister Donna who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
JM:What is you educational background, please?
BB:I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Social Studies and I have a Master’s degree in Education.
JM:Where did you get these degrees, please?
BB:At that point it was Central Connecticut State College; it is now Central Connecticut State University. I am also a certified Connecticut Municipal Assessor which you do have to take classes and take exams for. That is my certification.
JM:We’ll get to that; it is an important part of this. How did you happen to come to this area?
BB:I came to college in Connecticut. I had an aunt and uncle that lived in New Britain, and I lived with them while I was going to school. I met my husband and that is why I stayed. He was going to school at Central too. I fell in love with him and stayed.
JM:Good reason. I know that you have been an assessor in other towns, what training do you have to have to be an assessor?
BB:To be a certified assessor which you need to be to sign the Grand List; when I got my certification, there was only one certification. You had to work in the field for 5 years trainings, and you had to take 5 different courses with an exam at the end of each course. Then you had to take a final big exam, like an 8 hour exam and pass that exam.
JM:Did that cover all the areas?
BB:Yes, that exam covers all the courses which is very difficult to pass. Nowadays they break it up into 2: CCMA1 and CCMA2 because of the smaller towns. You can take the first 4 courses without taking the fifth course because the fifth course is really just income and expense, big box stores and commercial which we don’t really have a lot of. They found that it makes it a little bit easier for assessors in small towns to get their certification if they don’t have to concentrate on that very mathematical difficult course which I actually loved because I love math. I have not used it very much in my job.
JM:But you were a math teacher?
BB:I was a math teacher.
JM:Good training. Now are you certified permanently or do you have to renew your certification?
BB:We have a five year certification and then you have to acquire 50 training credits in the 5 year period in order to be recertified.
JM:Just like school teaching.
BB:Just like school teaching.
JM:When I spoke with you before, you said that there were 3 parts to your job: discovering property, valuing the property, and putting it on the Grand List. Would you talk to me a little bit about how you discover property?
BB:You can’t value it and list it if you don’t know what the property is. First of all we have three classes of property that we are going discover, value, and list. One is real estate that most people know about. The other is motor vehicle which is in the news a lot right now.The third one is personal property which is mostly your business, furniture fixtures, manufacturing equipment; it could be just a small little painter that is just one guy or it could be a very big company. So those are the three classes of things that we discover, list and value. Discovering can be; it has changed over the years. It has always been getting building permits from the building official. It has always been getting a list of motor vehicles from the state of Connecticut. Personal property is driving up and down the road and you can see the store fronts. But over the years now for the real estate I spend a big part of my time on the internet; I look at all the real estate sites, I am always looking at houses for sale, houses for rent. You can actually do virtual tours with all kinds of photographs of houses. That is has made my job much
more interesting, it doesn’t always make the realtor or home owner happy, but also driving around. If I am doing an inspection at your house, I just look at everything in the neighborhood. I go out with my husband in the boat every year on all the lakes which is fun, but also need to do that. You really need to do this. I don’t farm this job out; some assessors farm this job out to appraisers. I feel in Salisbury this is a major part of my job because we have the real estate section of our Grand List is the largest section by far. That’s where all the questions come from public because our mill rate is lowest in the state of Connecticut.
Our motor vehicle tax is actually quite low, so I don’t get a lot of people coming in and talking about their motor vehicles, or complaining about their motor vehicle assessment. It is pretty cut and dried-the motor vehicle issue.
The typical business is your storefront; that is also pretty cut and dried, but now I have been able to find that most people who have moved home; they work at home. If they work for a company, the company may close the offices and send them home with a desk, a computer, file cabinets, and everything so that they can work from home. Now I can’t assess that company anymore, that office front. I have to assess them at home. If you as the home owner owned that equipment then you have to report it and pay taxes. I have to find you. Quite often the company actually provides you with everything, and then they are supposed to report to me and pay taxes on it.
My job for discovery this type of equipment for businesses in home occupation has become more difficult. The problem is that I know you have a real estate office in your home or an accounting office in your home because you advertise; I have to discovery you, list you and value you. But it is not fair if I am not doing all of it so I really have to make a concerted effort to get everybody to be fair. I do this by looking in the phone book, and when you pay your motor vehicle taxes if you pay with a company check or I go to the pizza place and I might see business cards up on the bulletin board. It is not snooping; it is my job. I am required to be as fair and equitable and knowledgeable as I can be. Every class the assessor takes the very first day, they say your job is to discover, to value, and list; we must go out of our way to discover otherwise you are not going to have equity. That is really what my whole job is about, making sure that everybody is assessed equally and fairly so that everybody is taxed equally.
JM:Do you think it is easier in a small town or in a city to do what you do?
BB:I have been offered many times to work in a city, but I personally do not want to work in a big city. I prefer to work in a small town.
JM:You like the comradery.
BB:I love meeting with my tax payers; I love being able to not farm out all these jobs to different people in the office. I want to be the one that did all the discovery so that when you come in and ask me questions, I have been to your house, I have measured you house, I priced your house, I have priced your equipment, I have priced your car so that I can answer all your questions.
JM:So you have knowledge and experience to answer my questions fairly rather than depending on somebody else’s input which might be totally wrong.
BB: That is the reason we’re required by law in Connecticut to do a revalue once every 5 years. Maybe we’re going to get that anyway. I have done it when I first began in this job where most assessors hire out of town or out of state reevaluation company to do 90% of the work for you. After years of experience of doing that, I found that if you work in a big city that is how you have to do it. When you work in a small town, you have the ability because there aren’t as many parcels to do the work yourself if you choose. I am one of the few exceptions who choose to do that because I find that if I do do that, I’m the one that has the consistency in collecting the data and the consistency in putting it into the computer system, there is the consistency with pricing it, valuing it. Then when the homeowner comes in and has questions, I can answer all the questions. I think it is a win-win for the town because I think they are getting a better job because I care. I am not doing the job and leaving town. I care because I am the one who has to answer to the people. I care because the tax payers are much happier because they have a real person to speak to, and I am always available. They would rather have a local person going through their house than a stranger that they don’t know as a part time person. Also it is much less expensive for the town. I can do a full inspection, reevaluation and charge the town $50,000. I get an extra so much every year and then I have the postage, I do time and materials, and I have the mailings and the different things that I have to do, but if you hire an outside company, way back when it was $175,000 so it is a huge savings for the town financially. I think it is a win-win for everybody.
JM:How you do value property? What do you use for keeping score, I guess?
BB:For real estate or motor vehicles?
JM:Let’s do real estate.
BB:Real estate by law we do what is called mass appraisal which is different from just appraising one house at a time. A fee appraiser goes out and you hire him or the bank hires him to appraise your house. What they do is that they cost it out by a book called “Marshall Swick” usually which is just cost of materials. Then they come in and look at my sales book, and they find the three most comparable properties to that house, using my information because they don’t get to go to those comparable properties. They use 3 or 5 as they can; they might have to go to other towns if they need to. Using those sales they make adjustments to come up with the value of your house.
I do kind of the same thing, but it is done on a mass scale; I reappraise every house every 5 years now. However I do do an interim when there is all kinds of construction or renovation; there are corrections to be made. We do a market approach based, a cost approach based on market so I have to create tables in the computer where I cost everything out, I cost out a bathroom, a fireplace by square footage and the value of land and the value for different grades of houses, conditions of houses, and all those tables that I use from mass appraisals that are required by law in that computer system, I build those tables based upon sales so I look at what the market is telling me so that I can’t create all these
tables that I am using unless I have studied the market constantly. Now I am not going to reevaluate for another couple of years, but I am still already always studying the market and going out and doing inspections and preparing for the next reevaluation and keeping notes. So I am very aware of my market; I am so much more aware of the market in Salisbury that somebody from Massachusetts or Ohio would be. I talk to the realtors all the time; I talk to property owners. I know what is even very unique to this town; what is so different in Salisbury from Cornwall or Harwinton or Torrington or even Sharon. What people who come here are looking for and what sells here. That takes time; the longer you are here, the more you know about the town. Every time I do a reval I get it a little bit more perfect each time.
The reason we have a reevaluation is obviously we can’t so this every single year which would be cost prohibitive; we wouldn’t have the time or the money to do that. It used to be every 10 years, and the state felt that the market shifted too quickly to do it every 10 years, so we do it every 5 years here in Connecticut. The market does shift. I find in the course of the 5 years that contemporaries might be more popular or log cabins or water front or condos. What people are willing to pay for and what they are interested in, and how important is a garage or a fireplace or do they want a 10,000 square foot house or has that changed. Do they want a 5,000 square foot house or do they really want all these big windows, cathedral ceilings or do they not? Is it important to be in town or how important is the privacy of your house, how important is the view and what type of view? Those things shift. If you are not here and you are not talking constantly to the realtors, you don’t know this. Many assessors don’t want to have anything to do with realtors, I have a fabulous relationship with all my realtors and appraisers that come in because I learn so much from them, and they are willing to talk to me because I share with them also. Nothing that is not professional, there are certain things they can’t share with me but anything that will help us do our job better for the people we share.
JM:How many realtors in town do you deal with?
BB:I deal very closely with there are so many in this town, it is just amazing, there are at least 20 realtors that I have a good working relationship with because some of the offices have 8 or 10 agents. Cornwall is a much smaller town and there is only one real estate office in town, actually there are 2-2 small. I work with both of those. I have found that they know so much; sometimes there will be sales and I don’t understand why it sold so low or so high. They will have the inside scoop. Oh at the last minute the inspection showed radon or showed a failing septic system or showed something that I would not be aware of that they have more information once you get to that closing.
JM:How do you value motor vehicles? Do you use just a blue book?
BB:By law we don’t use a blue book. Insurance companies use the red book or the blue book quite often. By Connecticut state law we use NADA which is a brown and yellow book. We are required to use the New England edition which takes into effect rust, and salt and sand so we don’t use the Florida edition. There are different editions, and within this book we use this to price your general motor vehicle. There are different categories; there are trade-ins and average retail. We are required by law
to use average retail. That makes us consistent. I don’t know if you have a smashed up car, I don’t know if your mileage is really high or have real issues with it. So I by law price it by the book. Then if you have issues or problems with your car and you think that your car is worth less than the average retail book value, then you don’t come to me on that, you go to the Board of Assessors. They are the ones who go out and look at your car.
A lot of people want to say, “Gee for a trade in I only got $2000.” I say, “But the average retail is $3500” The reason is that average retail is not what you are going to sell it for on the street, and they are stuck with it. You buy it from a used car dealer; they are required to give you a certain amount of warranty services 30, 60 or 90 days or whatever. They had to check the brakes, examine the tires and they had to make sure that you are buying a relatively safe decent car. If you trade in to a dealer for $2000, somebody else is going to buy it for $3500 because they know what they are getting.
The problem is that about half the cars are easy to price; we actually have a program installed through the motor vehicles so that the easy ones we have a software program with the NADA come to us from the state of Connecticut already priced. The problem is is when you get to the ones where the VIN numbers were turned in incorrectly, a 17 digit VIN number so it won’t price. Now we have a hard time pricing because the VIN number isn’t right or it is a crane or a tow truck or cabin chasse and we have to figure out what is on the back and price it on the back or if it is a grader or a backhoe. Anything that is more than 15 years old isn’t going to be priced; we have to price that. In many of the towns I used to work in, the older cars were pretty low in value. In this particular town I had to buy a special book for antique motorcycles. I had to buy a special book for cars of special interest because quite often my motor vehicles go up each year not down. That is a pretty interesting job too, and in some cities because the mill rate is so high, they have a lot of people coming in questioning the value. Most of the people here because the mill rate for motor vehicles is low don’t come in and question. If they do, I always have everything. I do the CYA, by law I am required to keep a real lot of documentation, but I keep everything. I make notes on everything, and I file so that if you come in, I can show you exactly what I did how, when and why.
JM:How do you value personal property?
BB:If we sent out a declaration to everyone in September that that is already on our list that we are aware of and it is a state form. If we sent it out and it is due back to me by November 1st. If you don’t return it to me, there is a big bright colored paper in there saying, “I know you have a business or I believe you have a business in this town, if you don’t return this to me then I am going to have to estimate because I don’t know what you have.” I would estimate and by law we charge a 25% penalty for not reporting or reporting late. You’re in business, you’re a professional, and you are expected to report to me. A lot of people who are these little home occupations, mom & pop operations, they don’t know. They don’t have an accountant; you know my husband was a teacher and a part time carpenter in the summer or you are just a young guy that is starting out with a lawn and landscape business, and they don’t always know so I try to work with them. They have no idea how to fill out the form so I
usually help them, and I say, “Let’s keep it really simple. Just come and talk to me; I don’t need every little detail, just the bigger equipment; just a ball park so if you sell your business tomorrow could I sell all my tools and ladders and stuff for $2,000 or $1500. That’s good enough. I don’t need an inventory of everything.” I try to make it simple and painless. Our mill rate is so low.
JM:What is a mill rate?
BB:My job is to find everything that needs to be assessed and to assess it or value it. I send that information about how much property we have that is taxable. I give that information to the Board of Finance so that is half of the formula they use to create the mill rate. Then the Board of Finance has to figure out how much money they need to run the government in this town. The Board of Finance sits with us all the different commissions, school board, the selectmen, transfer station, and the town crew. Everybody submits what they think they need for the year to run their budget.
JM:Is it a wish list or is it a realistic figure?
BB:It is pretty realistic. Most of these New England towns are really tough. They really know…
JM:They know what the traffic will bear and they are not going to go beyond that.
BB: If I really want to buy a map copier for my office, this town is a little easier than some, which costs $8,000 I have to justify to them why in the world I need this. Who’s going to use it? The fact that I am going to open it up to the public to my realtors and appraisers, I am actually going to make money on this. This town is smart enough to understand that. Other towns say, “No, we are not buying it.” I can explain to this town that you are saving me a trip to West Hartford twice a year to make copies, all the other towns are going to come to me; they are going to pay me to make copies. We’ll make money on this machine or break even and have it for our own use. Now all the commissions, the Sewer commission, the WPCA, the Zoning and the Building Office they love having this large map copier, and we do it right here. This town has very intelligent people on their boards and commissions, as a whole.
JM:I have noticed that from the interviews I have done.
BB:They understand that sometimes you have to spend money to make money and what is cost effective and what isn’t. I find they are very reasonable, but they are tough. If you want to increase your budget or decrease your budget, you have to explain why.
JM:You have to justify.
BB:Absolutely, it is not like this, the minute government gets bigger, there is more waste. So when you are on this level, the Board of Finance people are with you, work here, pay taxes here; it is a smaller government with very little waste here.
JM:Well, we are all pretty hard headed New Englanders I think.
BB:So what you are doing is you have a formula where you take the amount of money you can raise from the Grand List total. See my Grand List total is how much money you can bring in, and then you have the Board of Finance total budget of what they need to spend. They subtract from that any grants they are going to get from the state of Connecticut which used to be more sizable than they are now, grant for roads, and for having state property. Those grants can fluctuate, so they figure what they actually need and then how much money my Grand List will support them. You divide the 2 and that gives you the mill rate.
JM:How do you list the property that you have valued? What goes on the Grand List?
BB:The Grand List has three parts: real estate, motor vehicles, and personal property. I value everything, and then by state law we take 70% of that. We only tax on 70% for all 3 of those categories. All three of those categories can have exemptions or reductions which come out of my office also. You can apply to me for a blind exemption which will reduce your taxes, or a disabled exemption, or a veteran’s exemption. You can get reductions on your taxes; that all comes through my office. I also have tax relief for low income. I have low income disabled, low income renters, low income homeowners, low income veterans. Those programs are all through my office. That can reduce your taxes. Those will all go on the Grand List so the Board of Finance will know all the reductions that I have made so they actually know exactly what it is. When I print my Grand List in January, it changes after I get the exemptions and I get some tax relief and if I have new construction or demolition, so I give them the latest numbers that I have, the latest information; they get that, they usually want it right at the last minute or the first week in May. I give them a preliminary number now, but they want the final number that they can really hang their hat onto to calculate that mill rate. We are fortunate that we have a lot of expensive cars, and we have a lot of expensive homes, we have a very high Grand List, well over a billion dollars. We have relatively low expenses for the simple reason that in any town it is the school system that is the highest expense. In this town we have for the size of our Grand List, few teachers. I have gone over and worked in the school a little bit and found that the class size is very small. There are plenty of aids and a fabulous school, but there is a decreasing enrollment in many of the schools out here because we are weekender based. That has gone up and we have private schools here. Our mill rate is the lowest right now in the state. It is usually the lowest or the 2nd lowest or 3rd lowest; it fluctuates depending upon who has revaluation when. Sometimes it is Greenwich; sometimes it is us. People say, “How can the mill rate be low or how can the taxes be low when we have these beautiful homes?” That is what it is; you have taxable income that doesn’t require a lot of expense.
The other thing that is interesting in this town is our road Crew. It is very small for the size of the town; area wise I believe we are the second largest town in the state of Connecticut.
BB:Are we the largest? Many of our roads are state roads or private roads so our road crew is small for the size of the town. We have so many wonderful volunteers; it is amazing that we built the fire house and we get the donations to do it. In your typical town, that is not going to happen. That keeps our mill rate and our taxes low.
JM:It is a well-run town.
BB:It is a fabulous town to live in, to work in, and even to pay taxes in. It is a well-run town that is a happy, healthy community.
JM:That’s what I have heard, and at this point I think I have done everybody in the Town Hall, and that is what I have heard from everybody which really makes a difference because everybody is on the same page.
BB:I have worked in five different towns over the years; my typical stay is 11 years, and I have been here 11 years. I am going to stay here until I retire!
BB:I just really feel; I feel appreciated. I have spent the time to train the public; I am approachable, I am professional. You can talk to me; you may not always go away with the answer you want, but I am willing to spend the time to explain so that you at least feel that it is fair, that it is justified. I don’t like it, but it is right.
JM:That is important.
BB:It is, and 99% of the people have that relationship with me.
JM:I am going to go back to real estate because that is something I know a little bit about. What do you put on your field card?
BB:Most of what is in the field card is mandated by state law. Most people don’t know that almost everything I do is by state law. People will ask, “Why are you doing reval this particular year?” because I am required to do it that particular year. The field card has two sides and the first side will have the ownership history: who the current owners are, what their mailing address is, the information of history of ownership, and the previous owners going back a ways. You don’t want to go back too far, for the rest you go to the town clerk’s office to do a history. The volumes and pages for when they purchased it, how much they paid for it, and the date they purchased it, the information a typical a realtor or appraiser would want to know, the most recent information of ownership.
JM:What do you do in the case of someone who bought property and then puts up a new structure? Is that still on the field card?
BB: Correct. So I have an ownership section, I have a note section; in the note section I’ll put things like 2007 added a shed, 2009 demolished the barn, 2010 merged two parcels. I always put information on there to help anybody who wants to know why a change was made. The bottom section of the first side is all about the land. I value the land.
JM:The land is valued separately from the house?
BB: By law the land is separately valued from all the buildings. The building lot has to be broken out, your excess acres have to be separate, your house is separate, and then any out buildings structures like sheds, barns, pools, tennis courts also have to be separate. There are state codes for all these things and they have to be written out separate. The out building which is Code 1-4 is simple; that is the pool, the shed, the barn. If I change those, I have to keep notes and I have to keep all the proof of all the copies for a certain number of years, and I can’t get rid of anything unless I get permission from Connecticut State Library which I am in the process of doing now. A lot of these things you only keep a year, some you have to keep 10 years, some you have to keep forever. I have boxes of things. If you come in and you want to know what you did to your house five years ago, I can tell you.
The house is pretty straight forward. I price the square footage and I add on to those extra bathrooms beyond the first one; they give you one bathroom for free. I price by porches and garages and sheds. They are all pretty much priced the same. The key thing is when we get to two important features: the grade which is quality construction and the depreciation. Those are the two things that really make most of the difference. If you have a slate roof, it is more than an asphalt roof. If you have wood floors more than carpet floors, but the real change is when I get to that grade. There are about 20 variations of grade going from a D minus way up to a quadruple A plus. That would be the price per square footage. That is what the market tells me and it is my gut feeling and that’s the grey area. This is what it is; it is not cut and dried like mathematics; this is the art where you are figuring out what my gut tells me, or what the market tells me, or the sales tell me. You might spend a lot of money putting in this incredible type of wood floor in that cost you $20,000 to put a wood floor in your living room. I have to decide if the marketplace where you can get that back? So I say, ok it is worth more than a regular hard wood floor, but my gut is telling me that not everybody is going to appreciate or require that special wood or that special stone in the fireplace or the special thing you did in that bathroom. It really is quadruple A plus, but in the market place I don’t think people are willing to pay for that particular unique thing, so I am only going to put a triple A. This is all my gut feeling, I call it the scientific wild best guess; in other words it is my gut feeling but there is a science about it, I don’t just make this stuff up. I do a lot of homework, I talk to lots of people, I study the market, I read the ads as I know what people want in this area. Do I hit the mark on the nail every single
time? Of course not, neither does any realtor or appraiser. I am good at what I do. Am I perfect? No
Of course not, neither does any realtor or appraiser. I am good at what I do, but am I perfect? No. That is why I am moved to talk to you, to any homeowner and see if what I have done is right, just like I went out at 8:30 this morning in the rain. I am going to somebody’s house because I was too high on it. When I went through it, I said, “Wow, I didn’t realize this so I am reducing it.” Sometimes they call me to increase it; that is usually on the market. The land is what is the most confusing for most people, so I do put a grade on the house and I also do conditions. Has it been kept up or does it need a lot of renovation? Those two factors can really change a house. You can have two houses, the exact same house, one has better quality of construction for materials, and the other one may be not as well kept up. Those 2 things: the condition of up keep and the quality of initial construction are the two grey areas that I have to put my most work into because the rest of it is pretty simple; you just plug in numbers.
JM:I have always been curious about the property that I own because I bought it in 1974 and it has increased in value more than 40%, and it is just dirt. The only thing that has been in the ground that I didn’t have before is the septic system.
BB:You mean the land?
JM:Just the land, we’re not talking about the building. It has increased in value so much.
BB:So let’s get to the land. The land I am required if it could be a building lot, I am required to break out the zoned building lot, if it is a 2 acre zone, I have to break out the two acres. Then anything beyond what the zone is is excess acres because that has to be broken out separately and priced separately because you can split that off and sell it to a neighbor, or you can just give a half acre to a neighbor or sell it. So I am required to appraise that. Most of the value is in the building lot.
JM:When I bought my property, an acre and a quarter, and the building lot was an acre at that point in time, so I am assuming that it has been grandfathered in and you are not going to come after me.
BB:Actually many of these houses now, most of Salisbury have 1.84 acre zones in the out country. In town it might be .46 or .92 acres because there is water and sewers and stuff. There are all kinds of people that are living on undersized lots that are grandfathered in. That is fine. You can’t break anything off. They are called legal nonconforming lots. You find that everywhere.
BB:When I price these building lots, if it is a vacant lot, I do a couple of things. First of all if it is in a neighborhood and street, the street and neighborhood gets a certain number that has a factor associated with it so if you are on Walton Street or Chatfield Drive or Selleck Hill or Wells Hill, it could be something totally different by the status of your neighborhood in the marketplace which can shift. That starts the beginning, everybody is in a neighborhood. As for instance Farnam Road has three different
neighborhoods beginning down where the commercial is, then kind of medium, and the as you get out by Salmon Kill valley it becomes a different neighborhood. I have to figure out which neighborhood you are in. So not only are you in a neighborhood, if it is a vacant lot, I give you a 20% reduction for not having a septic or driveway yet. If you have a house I take that 20% adjustment off because you have improved it. Again it is a general number, and yes some septics cost more than others, some wells cost more than others, but in the marketplace when you go to buy it, you are just buying a well or a septic. Who knows what a well and a septic is going to be, so you just average them and I give everybody a 20% because in the marketplace that was an average number that made sense.
The most important thing is I do grade, most assessors don’t, but I do grade my lots like you would grade a house. You and your neighbor could both build the same house from the same plan and they could build their house for $150,000 and you could build your house for $400,000 if you put in all marble, granite, hard wood floors, crown molding, the best lighting and the best windows and everything. So we grade houses; so I grade lots because there is a big difference between lots. If you have a view, if you have stone walls, if you have a pond, if you are wet, if you are on the low side, if you are on the high side, are you on an intersections where all of the cars come out in front of your, are you on a hill where you have to listen to traffic noise, there are so many things that go into a building lot so it is not just about being on a street, it is about your specific unique individual lot out here. Does it have wonderful rock outcroppings that are popular in the market place or do you really have ledge which is annoying? I walk every property; there are always unknowns as there is with a house, to the best of my ability I grade every lot from one to ten. I am trying very carefully to get to the real value as to what it would be worth in the market. I am really doing my homework and trying to do a good job. I might not know that you have a contaminated well or that you have a shared well or that you have a right of way, but over the years I have accumulated most of that information. I always encourage people if there is something I don’t know, please bring that information to me. I don’t care about the people who live there; I really don’t want to know about the people who live there. By law I am only required to do the building. I really care about those things that affect the value of the property such as I am looking for if you have a view. I also want to know do you have things that reduce the value like contamination or a right of way or the fact that you have a junk yard next to you or whatever.
JM:I came in with my assessment a while back and asked you if you were aware that I’m on a shared well.
BB:With several people.
JM:Yes, we have our own private water company.
BB:I did not know that, and that is something that makes people in the marketplace. When people now are looking to buy a house, there was a house that was going to go on the market here, to go under contract here just last week, the people looking to buy the house walked way out in back and found there were a couple of tires in the brook out back. Now they are not sure that they are going to buy the house. They really do their homework right now. Five years ago there was a feeding frenzy and
everybody was buying because if I don’t buy it right now, the next people behind me will buy it so they didn’t negotiate prices, they didn’t check for rent, they just bought. Now there is a lot of surplus out there on the market, and there aren’t as many buyers. They have plenty of time and especially if they have cash, they do their homework. On the whole we have very intelligent, educated buyers here. It is quite often a second home so they aren’t in a hurry, they have the time; they are trying to make a good investment. It is incredible they won’t buy it because there is a purple rug in the living room, and they want that purple rug torn out and a tan rung put in before they are going to buy it.
JM:I have been through it. My husband sold his house; we were up on Twin Oaks area (384 Sharon Road). I sold my father’s house in Massachusetts which was in a good section of town. I am not selling my house yet, but I have been through that process. It is arduous.
BB;It can be, so if you happen to be selling in a seller’s market, that is wonderful. It is much easier and it can sell in a matter of days. Right now it is a buyer’s market. So by the time the people get their house sold, they just want to burn the darn thing down.
JM:Is there anything pertaining to your job that I haven’t asked you that you would like to share?
BB:You have really done a great job. I think we have talked about most everything that I do. What I like about my job. Salisbury is very special; it really is. For my first 8 years here I traveled an hour every day to get here; I used to work in the town I lived in because I saw what a great opportunity it was and what a great place it was to work. So when I had the opportunity to move here four years ago, I grabbed it. For anybody who wants a nice place to live, I am not so sure I love winter; I don’t want to spend my winters here, I am looking forward to going south in the winter. I must admit that but if you like snow and the ski jumps, and ice skating, this is fine. But for me personally three season out of four are fabulous.
JM:Thank you so much for your time, and your enthusiasm, and your knowledge.