rightAssessment Reviews

 

Most localities determine your property tax burden based on an ad valorem assessment of the property's value. Sometimes, as a property owner, you get an unwanted surprise in the mail telling you your assessment is going up, and sometimes it may seem as though your assessment is too high or inequitable with your neighbours.


Usually, matters like this can be resolved with a phone call. However, if after discussing your assessment with the BC Assessment Authority you still feel as though your property was overvalued, a professional, independent, third-party appraiser is often your best bet in proving your case. That's where we come in.

 

There are as many different procedures for appealing assessments as there are property taxing districts, so it's important to enlist the help of a professional appraisal firm that's experienced and trained in the ins and outs of your particular jurisdiction.  Our appraisers have over 30 years experience in assessment matters and procedures.

 

Please note: It makes sense to do your own research before determining whether to go forward with a property assessment appeal, especially before you make the decision to hire a professional appraiser. However, according to the Canadian Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (CUSPAP), we are not allowed to take "shortcuts" -- i.e., your research -- and use it on its face as part of our independent evaluation. When you hire us for an Real Estate assessment appeal, you're commissioning  an independent, third-party professional Real Estate appraisal report. As such we do our own evaluation, beginning to end. If you're right that your Real Estate has been overvalued, an independent report such as ours will be even more persuasive than any other evidence you can marshal on your own. But it depends on our ability to do the work independently.

 

Property taxes are the single largest annual operating expense for both landlords and tenants. Property transfer taxes are based on subjective internal market valuations which can be challenged and negotiated lower based on expert evidence. A successful Real Estate tax appeal has an immediate positive impact on the bottom line performance of all real estate.

All Real Estate owners are taxed annually based on the assessed values as determined by the BC Assessment Authority. The BC Assessment Authority produces annual Real Estate assessments based on the market value of the real estate as at July 1st in the previous year. Real Estate assessments are determined using standard real estate valuation approaches; direct comparison, cost and income approaches. The BC Assessment Authority also determines the physical condition, reflecting any changes after the valuation date, and the actual use(s) to apply the correct property tax classification(s) for each property as at October 31st in the previous year.

Real Estate owners receive their annual property assessment notices in the first week of January. The property owner has until January 31st to file an appeal with the Property Assessment Review Panel. There is no fee to file an appeal to the Property Assessment Review Panel. A third party may also file an appeal against a property assessment notice.

The BC Assessment Authority delivers approximately 1,925,000 Property Assessment Notices around December 31 with a provincial staff of around 680 personnel. Given this ratio of assessment staff to properties of 1 to 2830, it is impossible for the BC Assessment Authority to inspect and value individual properties on annual basis. All mass property assessment valuation systems are subject to human error. A successful appeal can result from a professional, comprehensive review for the following reasons:

  • assessed value is above market value
  • incorrect physical inventory
  • incorrect property classification
  • eligible exemptions were not applied
  • assessed value is not “fair and equitable” in relation to similar, competing property assessment values
  • property was under construction as at October 31 in the previous year
  • historic vacancy issues
  • condition of property or deferred significant maintenance
  • property is contaminated or negatively impacted by hazardous materials

Thompson Rivers Appraisals Inc. believe in starting the process with a comprehensive review of each individual Real Estate assessment’s valuation methodology by reviewing of the assessor’s working papers and calculations. We then discuss our findings with the property taxpayer outlining our recommendations. Once a plan of action is agreed upon, we enter into proactive dialogue with the local assessment office to narrow issues of concern in an attempt to resolve any differences. This approach is preferred by the BC Assessment Authority staff as it allows both parties to focus their resources on resolving differences ultimately settling an appeal without the need for expensive and protracted appeals.

However, when dialogue and information exchanges produce no tangible results, we will seek a mandate to continue with a formal appeal. We will file all necessary appeals to the appropriate appeal bodies and prepare and attend all necessary appeal hearings to present the taxpayer’s case.

The BC Assessment Authority typically takes the position that it is the Real Estate taxpayer’s responsibility to prove that the assessed value is above market value. However, the BC Assessment Authority does not openly discuss the requirement that their assessment values must be both “fair and equitable.” Fair means that the assessed value is not above market value as at July 1 in the year of valuation. Equitable value means that the assessed value is equitably assessed at a similar rate with similar, competing properties in the taxing jurisdiction. An appeal must satisfy that the assessment value is both “fair” and “equitable” and the taxpayer is to receive the lower of the two. This means that a property may be assessed at market value but if similar properties are assessed at a lower rate, then the assessment must be reduced to an equitable value.

Thompson Rivers Appraisals Inc. understands how to prepare an equitable valuation challenge based on our strategic knowledge of the BC Assessment Authority and access to real estate sales and property assessment data.

Paul Fischer and Bruce Krusel have significant experience in the Assessment Review process and appeal experiences both in their former employment with the BC Assessment Authority.

In short, here at Thompson Rivers Appraisals Inc., you can rely on our independent judgment, because we offer professional, objective, ethical REal Estate appraisal review services for our clients. Browse our website to learn more about our qualifications, expertise and services offered.