By law property valuation in Massachusetts is required to be based on "full and fair cash value," which is the amount a willing and knowledgeable buyer would pay a willing and knowledgeable seller on the open market. The Assessors must collect, record, and analyze a great deal of information about property and market characteristics in order to estimate the fair market value.
The Assessors first inspect each property to record specific features of the land and building(s) that contribute to its value (Size; type and quality of construction; number of dwelling units, baths, fireplaces; type of heating system). In addition, the neighborhood in which a property is located and the extent (if any) of its view of the water have a major impact on value. These and other features are listed on individual property record cards that are available in the Assessors' Office.
Determining "full and fair cash value" of a property involves discovering what similar properties are selling for and what the property would cost today to replace. Valuation techniques for commercial properties also include analysis from an investment point of view and how interest rates may be affecting the real estate market.
The Assessors do not create value. Rather, they have the legal responsibility to discover and reflect the changes that are occurring in the marketplace.