This decaying 16×20 foot building on Rabbit Valley Road in Oxford was assessed at $91,800 by KRT Appraisal, then adjusted down to $39,100 with no explanation. Submitted photo

OXFORD — The image of Oxford resident Joseph Korn’s collapsing shack may be the most appropriate metaphor for the flawed process of real estate assessments during an unprecedented real estate boom.

Korn lives at 364 Rabbit Valley Road. There he owns a 68-acre parcel, his residence on three acres, and a ramshackle building he describes as an old camp.

“It’s been vacant for years,” Korn said during last week’s selectmen’s meeting. “Its windows have been smashed out of it. There is no door on it. It sits about 30 feet off the Hogan Pond Road, and you can’t even see it from the road it’s so grown up. The roof is almost falling in. My tax bill last year had a $1,000 value. The new appraisal this year was $91,800.”

The data breakout of Korn’s assessment from KRT Appraisal, of Haverhill, MA, showed zero value for the land, which is billed separately. It listed a “yard” value of $12,000 and a building value of $79,700. Korn called the company, and one of the first questions he asked of the KRT representative was if anyone had even looked at.

“They hadn’t,” Korn continued. “They got a lot of information from the town. I got another [assessment], and it was for $39,000. Someone want to give me $40,000?

“I’ve got two small sheds on the remaining property with the roofs falling in, and they valued them at a couple hundred bucks. So I called again. Obviously they hadn’t come out to look at it.”


While no Oxford resident has opened their revaluation and smiled at the results, the argument they are making is not that their values are so high but that the process KRT Appraisal followed is deeply flawed. They say they have been left with little time and recourse to correct appraisals that were done with documents and GPS images instead of boots-on-the-ground, physical contact.

The additional assessment of yard value, which is presumably part of both land and buildings, has many scratching their heads. In a review of KRT’s assessment report, available online at, a Pleasant Street residence was assessed at $183,200 for the building, $125,000 for the “yard,” but only $27,000 for the land.

Trish Larrivee, a Pottle Road resident, also called when she received her revaluation and in response received an adjusted value that was $10,000 less. What KRT did not provide in either letter was what they based their assessment on.

“There was no explanation,” Larrivee said during the meeting. “I’m not going to say my house isn’t worth it in today’s market. But it’s concerning … where did they come up with it? What did they use for comps, how?

“Then they come with this “beautiful” tax. Essentially, if you have a pretty yard with flowers? I was pleased they thought my backyard is so nice, but I don’t have a swimming pool or anything like that.”

KRT Appraisal assigned a “yard” value of $12,000 to this brushy and overgrown section of land, yet the structure of the yard, concealed from view, has no acreage assigned to it. Supplied photo

One resident said as he reviewed the assessment database he saw that some properties did not even included existing buildings. Resident Bill Penfold said that KRT appraised a lean-to carport he had built for $6,100 at $71,000.


“It’s not a garage. The values they put on these structures, they haven’t come to see them,” Penfold said. “They’re using satellite, not coming to see what these buildings and properties are.

“Overall, with all these issues, my question is … with printing tax bills for October, are you considering keeping the same assessments and mill rate we’ve had for this year so that people will have time to deal with these issues?” June Mosher asked. “Or would the town see this redone? Time is limited for making these decisions.”

Board Chair Dana Dillingham responded that such an option had not yet been discussed, but informed residents that when Oxford originally put the revaluation project out for bid, KRT was the only to submit one. Town Manager Adam Garland added that with the last appraisal done in 2009, Oxford is out of compliance with what the state of Maine defines as acceptable revenue from property taxes.

“Some of these properties have been assessed as higher than what people can sell them for,” Mosher replied. “It doesn’t make sense to just cut the mill rate in half, because those numbers are not going to go away. They will have to pay taxes based on something that’s not real.

“And I would argue that just because we can’t find a company that can do the job doesn’t mean we should settle for what we got. If we’re not satisfied with what we paid for, that’s not a solution either.”

Other speakers supported Mosher’s points. One said that despite the references KRT submitted being positive, when she looked herself she found towns that had problems their services similar to Oxford’s. Her experience included being told by a KRT representative that they did not have enough people to do the work involved to meet the contracted deadline.

“KRT has botched this process,” said Nathan Broyer, adding later in the meeting he felt it would be criminal to move forward with such poorly conducted assessments.

Selectmen thanked everyone for providing thoughtful feedback and assured the crowd that the board will not simply accept the appraisal results as KRT presents them.

“We (as) the selectmen, and the town manager, and legal, will deal with it,” Selectperson Sharon Jackson said. “KRT has to follow everything they were supposed to do in our contract.”

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