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7 Jan

Think your 2020 BC Assessment value is too high? I did, and here’s how I got it reduced…

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Posted by: Adam Hawryluk

Think your 2020 BC Assessment value is too high? I did, and here’s how I got it reduced…


Disclaimer #1: Bringing more scrutiny to your BC Assessment value may INCREASE your value as well. Maybe you don’t wan’t them looking that much closer at your property in comparison to your neighbour’s place. Your results may vary. In my case, I felt I had enough of a case to make it worth while having it reviewed, but you do take on that risk.

Disclaimer #2: I am in support of paying our fair share of taxes. I also very much acknowledge its a luxury to even own a home to pay taxes on, so please don’t construe this as whining. Also, these are people doing their jobs just like us, so being cordial and empathetic is always helpful, and is just the right thing to do.

Everyone loves being told their house is worth more than they expected, except when it comes to Assessment/tax time (or sometimes when dividing assets in a divorce, but that’s for another post). When our BC Assessment came out on Jan 2nd, we were shocked to see it increase by 15% over the previous year, especially when it was a high value that didn’t seem to make sense with comparable sales in our area.

I did some digging through their website on what you should do to prepare, and put together a guide to make the process easier:

1) Collect some data to support your reasoning. There was a good chance I could be wrong, so I better have information to support my thought process! This could be:

  • Intangible information (like a neighbouring property that was listed but didn’t sell, any details about your property that doesn’t show up on the current assessment, etc)
  • Examples of inequity, comparable properties or sales that highlight an unusual discrepancy with your own
  • Market evidence – try to find sales that have similar land and building size, and how do they compare to your own. Consider using a per square foot comparison for a common benchmark (registering an account with www.BCAssessment.ca makes it easy to compare your assessment to others)

2) Find out who the appraiser who is responsible for your area and speak to them directly, since they have the autonomy to make a decision about your situation and could help you out. This also eliminates spinning your wheels too much in the month of January (since all formal appeals have to be filed by Jan 31st), and potentially satisfy your situation without having to file a formal complaint. You can find out your jurisdiction on the Assessments map HERE.

3) Be Compassionate – Nobody likes being complained to, and I’m sure the appraisers at BC Assessment spend their entire January being told by the public that they didn’t do their job well. I would hate that. You would hate that.

4) Be Curious – Try to understand their rational and their process. It’s not an exact science, and much of it is done with a sample of market appraisals, from which larger regional determinations are extrapolated.

5) Provide the facts non-confrontationally. Just facts.

Here is what I wrote to the BC Assessment appraiser responsible for my area:

Good morning *****,

I wanted to connect with you directly (just left you a quick voicemail), as the assessed value on our home (**** Rd) has jumped this year substantially, and it would be great to review it with you first, prior to getting into any sort of formal appeal (if there is even a case to be made). I’m sure this part of the job isn’t the most fun, so I can empathize with the challenge of dealing with complaints about this stuff.

January must be busy for you with stuff like this, but if you could please let me know if we could set up a quick phone call just to go over the information I’ve gathered so far (**comparable sale address**, **comparable sale address** my next door neighbour trying to sell for $*** and not getting it), that would be much appreciated.

I look forward to speaking with you, if you want to give me a call at 250-591-9959, that would be lovely.

Cheers,
Adam

Results

In my situation, the appraiser called me back and we discussed the properties I had identified in the email, and some information regarding my property that wasn’t being factored in on the most recent assessment. During our discussion, the appraiser was able to update the information and reduce the BC Assessed value increase from 15% to 4% (which was lower than the average increase for my jurisdiction). They said if I was comfortable with that result, that they could put that in the system and send me an updated assessment in the mail. Or, if I felt there should be a more significant reduction, that I was entitled to file a formal complaint.

For me, this result was fine and what I hoped for. It brought the Assessed value much more into line with what I figured the house and property were worth, so there was no need for me to pursue anything further.

Have you had questions or concerns about your BC Assessment? Have you ever had it changed, filed a formal complaint, or gone before the Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP)? I’m interested to hear your findings.

If you found any of this helpful, pass it along to friends or family that would like a glimpse inside the machine!

Adam Hawryluk
adam@cmexp.com

250-591-9959

**OAC, E&O