AUGUSTA (AP) – Assessing firms are in high demand in Maine as real estate values surge and a growing number of towns go through property revaluations.

As property values continue to climb, particularly in southern and coastal Maine, many assessing firms are finding themselves booked up months on out and longer.

“There’s a high demand (for revaluations) right now,” said Stefan Pakulski, Readfield’s town manager. “Our own assessor here couldn’t deal with us until 2007.”

Pakulski recently sent out a request for bids for a revaluation, but doesn’t expect work to begin anytime soon. Town officials in Readfield are considering an interim revaluation in an effort to bridge a wide gap in waterfront and landlocked property values for the time being.

Bill Van Tuinen, who works as Skowhegan’s assessor and also has his own assessing business, said he is booked for revaluations for the next year.

“I certainly have all the work ahead of me that I can handle,” Van Tuinen said.

One of the main reasons for the inequity in property values is the real estate boom in which waterfront property values have risen particularly fast, said Dave Ledew of Maine Revenue Services, which oversees the state’s licensed assessors.

“You don’t get all properties going up at the same rate,” Ledew said. “So many towns are looking to re-equalize values.”

There are about 25 assessing firms from throughout New England that conduct most of the revaluations in Maine.

In addition to their work in towns, employees at many of those companies are being contracted by private businesses for appraisal work, said Michael Starn, a spokesman for Maine Municipal Association.

“Oftentimes they overlap. You have people who work for banks and do appraisals, they may also do assessing work for towns,” Starn said.

The looming tax cap referendum, which proposes to cap property taxes at $10 per $1,000 of assessed value, has provided extra consulting work for some assessors, he added.

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