Home

Resolution Guide | PROPERTY ASSESSMENT APPEAL BOARD

On-line Dispute Resolution Guide

« Back to Start
Homepage Banner

Welcome to our On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) Guide, here you will find Tips on How to Resolve your Appeal. Choose a category below.

← Choose A Question

option1.jpg

ODR-Flowchart2.jpg

option1-sub2.jpgThe purpose of the negotiation stage is to have a thorough and open on-line discussion with BC Assessment about your concerns and whether the current assessment is incorrect.

You will use the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website – which works a lot like a chat tool to discuss your concerns, exchange positions and attach support documents.

NOTE: You will usually not be on-line at the same time as BC Assessment. It is not designed to be a simultaneous chat. We encourage both parties to respond to each other in the ODR website within 24 - 48 hours.

Normally, your discussion, during the negotiation stage, will proceed through the following steps:

  1. You start by listing your issues in the message box. Include your position and attach any supporting documents.
  2. BC Assessment will respond. They may have some questions for you, to fully understand your concerns and to explore, in more detail, your reasons and supporting documents.
  3. BC Assessment may raise their own issues. This is permissible. When an appeal comes to the second level, either party may raise issues with the decision of the Review Panel (the first level of appeal).
  4. BC Assessment may ask to view your property. You can agree to a date and time for this inspection. This is often a way of resolving your appeal, especially if they have inaccurately recorded the size or condition of your improvement, etc.
  5. If BC Assessment does not agree with you, they may send you details on their position including supporting documents (such as a list of comparable sales).
  6. You may resolve the appeal in two ways:
    • a) You decide you do not have a strong case and discontinue your appeal (called a withdrawal);
    • b) You and BC Assessment agree that the assessment should be changed (called a recommendation).
  7. If you do not resolve the appeal, just between the two of you, then either you or BC Assessment should request (in the ODR tool) the assistance of a Board facilitator. See What happens during the Board facilitation stage?

The best way to resolve your appeal is to come to the table with good arguments and support. Usually, both parties genuinely want to find a resolution. It is in the best interests of both parties to act in good faith.

Focus on the issues in your appeal – not the personalities:
Communicate in a respectful tone and explain why you disagree with your assessment. Appeals usually do not settle through mutual agreement if either party insults or criticizes the other. This often causes the other person to become defensive and gets in the way of constructive discussions on a solution.


Recommendation to you and BC Assessment
Review your text in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) message box before you hit “submit”.  Just like emails, it is easy for the other party to misinterpret your tone (as they cannot hear your voice). 

 

Do your homework:
You will more likely persuade BC Assessment of your position if you provide convincing rationale supported by solid market evidence. Even if your appeal is not settled, this preparation will assist you in preparing your submissions to the Board for a decision.

 

Use this On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) Guide to:
    ο "Do you homework" by researching support for your position
    ο Evaluate the strength of your position by clicking on Do I have a strong case? 

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance:
In the ODR website, you will start in the negotiation stage by having two-way discussions with BC Assessment. Seek the Board’s assistance at anytime if you need help. For example, you may need assistance in deciding whether to accept a suggestion from BC Assessment or in deciding if you have a strong case.

To bring in the Board into the ODR discussions, click on the “Request Board facilitator” button.

 

Questions:
In you have any other questions, contact the Board:
Email:     office@paab.bc.ca
Phone:    604-775-1740
Toll free: 1-888-775-1740

If your appeal is still in negotiation stage, go to your case in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website and click on the “Request Board facilitator” button. You will receive an email once the facilitator has joined the on-line discussion. You can then submit a message in ODR with specific questions or request for feedback on your position.

If your appeal is already in Board facilitation stage, just send a message to the facilitator with your questions, by using the message box called “Submit message with attached documents”. 

If you and BC Assessment do not reach agreement during on-line discussions (just between the two of you), either of you can request a Board facilitator.  Use the request button in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website. You then have a three-way chat and this stage is called Board facilitation.

In most appeals, the following will occur in Board facilitation stage:

  1. The facilitator will enter the on-line discussion so that you now have a three-way chat.  The facilitator will review the previous conversations between you and BC Assessment as well as any attached documents.
  2. The facilitator may ask you and BC Assessment to clarify the issues in your appeal. For example, if you disagree with BC Assessment on the market value of your property, the facilitator may ask for confirmation that equity or fairness is not an issue.
  3. The facilitator may ask specific questions to try and narrow the issues. For example, if the issue is: what is the market value of the property, the facilitator may ask questions to ensure there is no disagreement on the size, age and description of the property.
  4. If you or BC Assessment have not provided enough support for your positions, the facilitator may require either of you to provide additional information or documents by a specific deadline. Once you have gathered this information, you provide it in the ODR website via the "Submit message with attached documents" box.
  5. The facilitator may provide any other instructions (called Board orders) for the appeal to proceed efficiently. These Board Orders must be complied with. Otherwise, the facilitator may apply consequences, including, dismissing an appeal. For more information see the role of the facilitator.
  6. The facilitator may provide you and BC Assessment with feedback. While not always possible, he/she will try to give you an indication of the likelihood of success.

    Note: If the appeal is not settled by mutual agreement in the ODR website, it proceeds to adjudication. Any opinions that the facilitator provides are not binding. In fact, the decision maker will be another Board member who will not know what opinions were expressed by the facilitator. See role of the facilitator for more details.
  7. If required, the facilitator will give you and BC Assessment time to re-consider your positions.  The appeal might be settled either by you discontinuing your appeal (called a withdrawal) or by you and BC Assessment reaching an agreement to change the assessment (called a recommendation).
  8. If the appeal is not resolved, it will proceed to adjudication. See: what happens if we don’t resolve my appeal?


See more information on the role of the facilitator.

Role of the Facilitator

The Board’s facilitator is there to provide you and BC Assessment with independent feedback. The facilitator will be a Board member or the Board’s Registrar.

The facilitator will attempt to provide you and BC Assessment with feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your positions on the appeal issues. Sometimes the facilitator can also give you an indication of the likelihood of success if you were to continue with your appeal to adjudication. However, due to the complexity of some appeals, the facilitator may not be able to provide you with an opinion.

The facilitator can issue Board orders for:

• Releasing documents to each other;

• Setting deadlines for next steps – including status reports;

• Requiring you to confirm whether you want to continue with the appeal;

• If the appeal is not settled, setting the adjudication steps and deadlines (by written submission or in-person hearing).

Note: most residential appeals are adjudicated on the basis of written submissions (without an in-person hearing).

The facilitator has the same powers in the On-line Dispute Resolution website as described in the Board Rules for Appeal Management and Settlement Conferences. For a full list of the possible orders that the facilitator can make, see the Board Rules.

If a party does not comply with a Board order issued by the facilitator, the Board may impose consequences (including dismissing an appeal). See the Board Rules.

 

Yes.

The facilitator must first be part of the on-line discussion. If appeal is still in the negotiation stage, click on “Request Board facilitator” button. The facilitator will then join your on-line conversation and you will have a three-way discussion.

If you would like some confidential feedback, you can have a private on-line conversation with the facilitator. BC Assessment will not be able to see these private messages.

To access the private conversation section click on the "Private with Board facilitator", located just to the left of Submit message with attached documents.  BC Assessment may likewise request a private on-line conversation with the facilitator.

Any private on-line discussions with the facilitator are confidential unless you or BC Assessment agree that the facilitator can share the discussions with each other.

Note:
Depending on the nature of your question, the Board facilitator may want to provide the feedback to both you and BC Assessment.  To encourage mutual agreement on an appeal, it is usually more effective if both parties see the feedback.

Both you and BC Assessment may disagree with any feedback or opinion from the facilitator on the strengths and weaknesses of your arguments.

Any opinions expressed by the facilitator are non-binding. The facilitator’s opinions only become binding if both you and BC Assessment agree and the Board issues a final order on the appeal – for example, if the facilitator recommends a change to the assessment and both of you agree with that change.

The facilitator will do his/her best to provide you and BC Assessment with feedback. However, this feedback will be based on what is presented and exchanged in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) tool. This is a non-binding dispute resolution process, unlike binding arbitration or adjudication. As a result, you and BC Assessment can disagree and, if you do, the case will proceed to adjudication.

If the appeal proceeds to adjudication, the facilitator will not be the decision-maker. The decision-maker will be another Board member who will not know what opinions were expressed by the facilitator.

Note on Board orders:
Please be aware, that the Board facilitator may make Board orders for next steps in the appeal. These orders are distinct from the facilitator’s opinions on the strengths of your case. Board orders are not optional and you must comply with them. If you disagree with a Board order, you may request the facilitator re-consider (for example, provide an extension). If you do not comply with a Board order the facilitator may impose consequences (including dismissing the appeal). See the Board Rules.

Yes. Both you and BC Assessment can change your positions on any appeal issue if the appeal is not resolved and it proceeds to adjudication. You can also change, completely replace or add to the supporting documents you provided in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) tool during the negotiation and Board facilitation stages.

The key thing to remember is that your discussions in the ODR tool are “without prejudice”.

For example: If you sent a message to BC Assessment saying you were willing to settle the appeal if they agree to reduce your assessment by 15%, and the appeal does not settle; you will not be bound by this offer. You could change your position and argue that your assessment should be reduced by a different amount.

BC Assessment has the same right to change their position.

Note:
While you may change your position on any appeal issue, you can not raise new issues once the appeal proceeds to adjudication. All your issues should be raised during the negotiation and Board facilitation stages.

The appeal will proceed to adjudication.

The facilitator will issue Board orders for how the appeal will be decided and the deadlines. In most residential appeals, the parties prepare and deliver written submissions (to each other and to the Board). For more details see how does the written submission method work. In some cases, the facilitator may order an in-person hearing. See what happens if a hearing is scheduled?

Usually, only one Board member is assigned to decide the case. After the parties deliver their submissions, the Board member will consider all the written arguments and evidence and issue a written decision. It normally takes 60 to 90 days (from the last date submissions were received) for the decision to be issued.

← Choose a Question

option2.jpg

Common Issues for Residential Appeals:

(For guidance on how to research your issue, click on one of the issues below)

  1. The description, including the condition of my property is wrong, creating an inaccurate assessment:
    Description of issue: There may have been changes to the improvements or “physical inventory” (number of buildings and details such as size, number of rooms, etc.) that are not reflected in your assessment. There may be a physical problem with your house that BC Assessment is unaware of that significantly affects its value (e.g. the foundation is cracked). Alternatively, BC Assessment records for items such as size are inaccurate.
  2. My assessment is not at market value (too high or too low):
    Description of issue: Your assessment should be what your property's market value was on July 1st of last year. For example, you may believe you could have sold your property for only $250,000 last July, but your assessment is $300,000.
  3. My assessment is not consistent or fair compared to assessments of other similar properties (equity issue):
    Description of issue: You may be concerned that your property has not been fairly assessed compared to the assessments of similar properties. Your assessment may be inequitable if other properties are assessed at a lower proportion of their market value than your property is.  

    For example, you may agree that your property's $300,000 assessment is at its market value.  However, you find that other properties throughout your area area assessed 20% below their market values. Equity would dictate your property should also be assessed 20% below its $300,000 market value, or at $240,000.

Other concerns:
You may have other concerns.  See the below information on concerns that we often hear from homeowners.  These are usually directly related to one of the above common issues.

Instructions:

  • For how these concerns are usually handled: click on the links in the left column of the below table;
  • For what research you should do: click on the related issues in the right column. 
Some Common Other Concerns: Which issue to Research:
I cannot sell my property now for as much as it is assessed Issue 2: Market value
Negative factors (e.g. noise) reduce the value of my property Issue 2: Market value
My property requires repairs Issue 1: Property condition
My assessment went up more than my neighbour's or average for the area Issue 2: Market value
My improvement assessment went up, but my property did not change Issue 2: Market value
My assessment is higher than other properties Issue 2: Market value or 3: Equity

There are other issues the Board can deal with that are not covered in this Guide.  We do not use On-line Dispute Resolution for all issues. Contact the Board if you wish to deal with some other issues that are not listed on this webpage. The Board will then advise you of the next steps. See: full list of possible issues.

 

I cannot sell my property now for as much as it is assessed:

Your property should be assessed at its market value as of July 1st last year  – not what it is currently worth.  If the market has changed recently, it may not be valid to compare your property’s current value with your assessment.  To do this comparison you must adjust for any difference in the market between July 1st of last year and now.  Also, you should have some evidence to support how much the market has changed.

It is usually easier and much more effective to look for sales evidence on your property’s market value around July 1st last year.   (Rather then spending time trying to find evidence on what it is currently worth). 

For guidance click on researching market value.

Negative factors (e.g. noise) reduce the value of my property:

Property owners often state that a negative factor has reduced the value of their property.  For example:

  • Traffic noise from a busy road;
  • Noise or odours from a neighbouring property;
  • Site is too steep;
  • View is impaired; or
  • The lot is subject to flooding.

The key is to determine your property’s market value as of July 1st last year.  Your assessed value should also take into account the negative factor (if it does, in fact, reduce your value).

To demonstrate the impact of a negative factor on your property’s value, you could look for evidence, such as:

  • Sales of properties that are similar to yours and also have this negative factor.  Ask yourself: how close is your assessment to these sale prices?
  • Sales of properties that are very similar to yours except they do not have this negative factor.  Are the sale prices significantly different from your assessment?
  • An appraiser or realtor’s opinion (preferably written) stating that, in their experience, what impact this negative factor has on the price of properties in your area.

For guidance on determining market value, click on researching market value.

My assessment went up more that my neighbour’s or average for the area:

Often property owners look at how their assessment changed compared to other properties.  Looking at this may help you figure out if your assessment is possibly wrong.  However, it is rarely considered strong evidence in an appeal to the Board.  This is because there may be good reasons why your assessment changed at a higher rate.  

  • There may be differences between your property and other properties.  For example: the property across the street has a superior view; view properties increased more than other properties.
  • Last year’s assessments may be wrong – so the percentage change in the assessments is in doubt.  You will need to demonstrate that the change in your assessment is not simply due to correcting the assessed value – possibly you were under assessed last year.  

It is usually easier and much more effective to look for sales evidence on your property’s market value.   (Rather then spending too much time comparing different assessments). 

For guidance click on researching market value.

My improvement assessment went up, but my property did not change:

Your assessment splits the total value between “land” and “improvements”.  Improvements may be a house, garage, or other buildings. 

Sometimes homeowners say: “How could my improvement assessment go up from last year?  It is one year older and I haven’t made any renovations”.   Before you spend too much time examining this concern, we suggest you keep in mind: 

  • Sometimes your house value can increase, even if it stays completely the same.  For example, increasing costs of building can drive up the prices that buyers will pay for older improvements.  Or, in a rising market, the overall market value of the property may increase, and when BC Assessment allocates this total value to land and buildings, both may increase.
  • It is often difficult to know whether the specific dollar amount assigned to improvements versus land is correct.  This is because when a house sells no one really knows how much the buyer paid for the house versus the land.  We only know how much the total package is worth based on the selling price.   
  • It is possible that the value assigned to your building may be too high.  However, it is also possible that your land value may be too low.  You are taxed on the total assessment.  That is what the Board normally concentrates on.  

It is usually easier and much more effective to look for sales evidence on your property’s total market value.   (Rather then spending too much time concentrating on just land or improvements).  

For guidance click on researching market value.

My assessment is higher than other properties

Property owners often compare their assessments with others in their area.  This may help you figure out if your assessment is possibly wrong.  However, usually these comparisons are not strong evidence in an appeal to the Board.  This is because there may be good reasons why your assessment is different than others. 

1.  Is your property different?  

If your property has significant differences compared with others, it is reasonable to expect the assessments to be different.  Assessment is based on a property’s market value.  Properties with superior characteristics should have higher assessments.  Properties with inferior characteristics should have lower assessments.

It is usually easier and more accurate to look for similar properties that sold. 

For guidance click on researching market value

2.  If your property is quite similar to the others:  

It is possible that the other properties are assessed correctly at their market values and yours is over assessed above its market value.  You can continue with these comparisons, however, you must be able to provide evidence on what these other properties are worth.  This is difficult unless they have recently sold.

It is usually easier and more accurate look for similar properties that sold.  For guidance click on researching market value.

It is also possible that the other properties are under assessed.  This issue is called equity or fairness.  The law says that you are entitled to an assessment that is accurate and consistent with similar properties in your taxing jurisdiction.

For guidance click on researching equity.

BC Assessment should have uploaded to the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website your property’s description and physical inventory (list of buildings and details such as size, number of rooms, etc.).  This is often called a Property Valuation Summary.

Verify that the information on your property is correct.  If not, describe to BC Assessment any apparent errors by sending a message in the ODR website.

If there is a physical problem with your property that significantly affects its value (for example, water damage), take photographs of the problem and get written confirmation from at least one reputable contractor that the problem exists as well as an estimate of the costs to repair.  Send a message to BC Assessment in the ODR website and attach supporting documents.

BC Assessment may want to inspect your property to see the issues for themselves and to see the condition of the remainder of your property.

 

You should also review the material in Do I have a strong case.

option1-sub2.jpgYou should do some preliminary market research in order to have a good discussions with BC Assessment.

For detailed suggestions see the Guide: Preparing Submissions on the Market Value of your Property. At this negotiation stage, you do not have to conduct all the in-depth analysis that is listed there. The Guide will, however, help you with:

  • where you can research sales; and
  • what type of support you will need, if you do not settle your appeal in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website.


For an effective on-line discussion with BC Assessment, we suggest, at a minimum, you provide the following:

  • List of sales of properties similar to yours. Include:
    • Address of the sale
    • Date of the sale 
    • How this property is similar to yours (location; size of land; size, age and condition of house; other characteristics (e.g. waterfront))

Look for sales that occurred last year. This is because your assessment should be at your property's value as of July 1 last year.

Notes:
It is acceptable to use sales that are months before or after the July 1 valuation date. The farther away from the valuation date, the more likely the sales will need to be adjusted for any market changes during this time frame.

You should also review the material in Do I have a strong case.

Background on equity appeals:

Equity is one of the more complex issues to deal with because you need to examine both the assessments of similar properties, and their market values. Equity looks at how the properties are assessed relative to their market values. The hard part in doing this research is you often do not know the market values of other properties – unless they sold.

You need to demonstrate that your property is assessed higher (relative to its market value) than a group of similar properties (relative to their market values).

For example:

You believe the market value of your property is $300,000 but it is assessed at $340,000.  Your level of assessment is $340,000 divided by $300,000 = 113%.  Your assessment is 13% over market value.  If the average assessments of properties in your area are 95% of their market value (or 5% under assessed), then you could argue that your property should also be under assessed by this amount.

Normally, it is not enough to pick one or two other properties, because we usually look at all similar properties in your neighbourhood or area.


To start your discussion with BC Assessment in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website:

Ask yourself: why do I think my property assessment is not fair or equitable with other similar properties in my area?

See the Equity Guide for details on how you can research equity.  You do not have to do all this analysis, but this will show you what type of support will be useful. This documentation will be required if your appeal proceeds to adjudication.

If you think you have good support, send a message to BC Assessment in the ODR website and include the following:

  • List of properties or groups of properties that you think demonstrates that your assessment is inequitable.
  • Explain why you think are assessment is not fair and include any analysis you have done.

Note:
You should also review the material in Do I have a strong case.

Instructions

This Guide will help you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your appeal. Start, below, by picking your issue, which will take you to a series of questions and answers.

Keep in mind:

Often you will have a feel for whether you have a good argument. Even if you are not fully familiar with the technical aspects of appraisal, you may be aware of what properties are selling for in your neighbourhood and how comparable they are to your house.

Please consider the following answers as general guidance only. Given all the possible variables in an appeal, we cannot provide you with a definitive answer. If you need specific help from the Board, click on the Request Board Facilitator button in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website.

Start your evaluation now: (choose your issue)

Do I have a strong case

Have you taken the steps listed in the questions for this issue?

If not, you can still talk with BC Assessment about your concerns. This may resolve your appeal. Often, you will need to do at least some of the analysis to support your position. More support provides a better chance for convincing BC Assessment of your point of view and settling the appeal.

If you have not taken one of the steps, you may not have sufficient justification to support your position. You can, however, view the next question if you want to see the rest of the evaluation. To view another question, click on the one of the question letters at the top of the question & answer box.

Questions for Issue 1

Question 1a

Have you obtained BC Assessment’s description or inventory of your property (list of buildings and details such as size, number of rooms, etc.)?

Yes No

Question 1b

Is there a defect or problem with your house or improvements (such as need for repairs)?

Yes No

Question 1c

Do many properties of similar age in your area also have this defect or problem with their improvements?  See example

Keep in mind:
At this stage, you may want to invite BC Assessment to inspect your property (if they have not already done so). An inspection often assists BC Assessment to verify your concerns and can resolve your appeal.

Yes No

Example:

If you have a 25 year old house and you are concerned that your roof must be replaced in 5 years, do most houses in your area also have their original roofs?

Question 1d

Do you have a professional estimate of the cost to repair the problem or evidence of its impact on the property's market value?

Yes No

Question 1e

If the description or inventory of your property is wrong, do you have any evidence or supporting documents to demonstrate this error in your assessment?  See example

Yes No

Example:

Your assessment description/inventory indicates that you have a 600 square foot finished suite in your basement, when, in fact, your basement is completely unfinished. You could take pictures of your unfinished basement to demonstrate that a basement suite does not exist. You could also invite BC Assessment to inspect your property to verify this for themselves.

Question 1f

Does the cost of repairs or difference in the property description represent a significant factor in your overall assessment?  See example

Yes No

Example on significance of cost of repairs:

If the cost of repairing water damage is $8,000 and the property’s overall assessment is $500,000, this repair only represents 1.6% of the assessment ($8,000 divided by $500,000). Property appraisals are not an exact science and they are open to a certain margin of error. This often results in a range of values, all of which are equally appropriate. Therefore, a small percentage adjustment may not be justified.

If, however, there are other significant deficiencies that can be supported, the total cost to fix the problems may justify an adjustment to the assessment. There is no hard and fast rule as to what percentage justifies an adjustment. There may be resistance to change an assessment if the cost is less than 5% of the total assessment.

Do I have a strong case

Have you taken the steps listed in the questions for this issue?

If not, you can still talk with BC Assessment about your concerns. This may resolve your appeal. Often, you will need to do at least some of the following analysis to support your position. More support provides a better chance for convincing BC Assessment of your point of view and settling the appeal.

If you have not taken one of the steps, you may not have sufficient justification to support your position. You can, however, view the next question if you want to see the rest of the evaluation. To view another question, click on the one of the question letters at the top of the question & answer box.

For guidance, see Common weaknesses in market value positions

Questions for Issue 2

Question 2a

Do you have market evidence to support your opinion on the market value of your property as of July 1st last year?

Yes No

Instructions:

You need to estimate the market value of your property as of July 1 last year. This is the valuation date for your assessment.

For suggestions on how to obtain market evidence see researching market evidence.

Question 2b

What type of market evidence have you obtained?

Sales of other properties 

Realtor or appraiser's opinion

Other support

Question 2c

Are the other properties you are comparing to reasonably similar to your property?

Yes No

Instructions:

When you are comparing other properties, make sure they are similar enough. Would the comparison properties be considered similar in the eyes of potential purchasers? If not, they are not good comparisons. Look at the characteristics that buyers find most important (e.g. location, lot size, view, house size, age, etc.). See Hints on Comparables.

You can look up some of the basic characteristics of other properties through BC Assessment's website: e-valueBC.

Hints on comparables:

Timing of Sale:

Your comparables should have sold as close to July 1 last year as possible. Keep in mind that sales comparables are not restricted to those that occurred before July 1st. You and BC Assessment may rely on sales that occurred before or after this date.

Use of Listings:

If you have relied on listings rather than sales, the Board usually considers them less useful. The problem with listings is that the Board does not know their selling prices until the buyers and sellers reach binding agreements. Listings do not provide a solid indication of market value.

Similarity:

You should look at similarity. How similar are the comparables to your property? Look at things like the size of lot, the size of the house, its age, condition, quality, and so on. Location is a key factor. The further away the comparables are from your property, the less reliable they are.

Question 2d

Have you analyzed the differences between the sales and your property to estimate the value of your property?

Yes No

Instructions:

This is the trickiest part of estimating value. There are two possible methods to account for differences. We recommend you use the qualitative method, which is the quickest and easiest. For assistance see in Step 2 in Preparing Submissions on the Market Value of your Property.

Introduction to adjustments:

After picking the “best” sales, you should compare the characteristics of these properties to your property. Basically, look at the differences between your property and the sales to determine what these sales indicate about the market value of your property.

This involves making adjustments to the sales comparables. There are two alternative methods:

  1. Qualitative adjustments: You subjectively rate the quality of the sales compared to your property, using descriptors such as “inferior”, “similar” or “superior”.  Homeowners may find this method easier and more practical than method 2. 
  2. Quantitative adjustments: This method is more complex and involves quantifying the differences between your property and the sales with dollar amount or percentage adjustments.

For more details on how to do these adjustments: see Step 2 in Preparing Submissions on the Market Value of your Property.

At the negotiation stage, you and BC Assessment do not have to take all the steps to make adjustments.  For example, if you use the qualitative adjustment method you might not take the time to make individual adjustments for each different attribute.  You might only make one overall rating for each property.  Is the sale inferior, similar or superior compared to your property? If the appeal is not settled, you can then proceed with the more intensive research on adjustments.

Question 2e

Can you and BC Assessment agree on your property's market value or do your ranges in values overlap?

Yes No

Instructions for question:

Detail in the On-line Dispute Resolution (ODR) website your sales and analysis. BC Assessment should then do the same.

Normally, you and BC Assessment will not have evidence that “proves” that your property is worth one precise figure. Because of uncertainties in estimating the value of a property, usually you (and BC Assessment) can only say that your property is worth something within a reasonable range of values.

For example: You might say “my property is worth between $425,000 and $450,000”. This is your “range in value” and any assessment within this range could be correct. If BC Assessment says your property’s value is $440,000 to $475,000, then your ranges overlap. There is some agreement that the value probably falls between $440,000 and $450,000.

Question 2f

Can you and BC Assessment agree on what change (if any) is needed to your assessment?

Yes No

Question 2g

Are you and BC Assessment significantly far apart on your positions on the market value?

See acceptable variation.

Yes No

Acceptable Variation:

Estimating market value is not an exact science and is usually subject to a certain amount of acceptable variation. This means there may be a range of values, all of which are equally appropriate.

The amount of acceptable variation will vary with the type of property and market evidence. If it is difficult to find sales that are very similar to your property, there may be more variation that is reasonable. The variation can also be magnified if there is uncertainty on how to adjust for things like negative factors.

Because of this, small adjustments to an assessment may not be justified. Board decisions have often stated that a difference of 5% or less is generally not considered significant.

For example:

If you estimate the value of your property is $540,000 and your assessment is $560,000, the difference is $20,000 – which is slightly less than 4%. Unless you have precise market evidence (such as the sale of your property), a difference this small will usually be considered to fall within the normally accepted range. In other words, your assessment would likely not be reduced.

Do I have a strong case

Have you taken the steps listed in the questions for this issue?

If not, you can still talk with BC Assessment about your concerns. This may resolve your appeal. Often, you will need to do at least some of the following analysis to support your position. More support provides a better chance for convincing BC Assessment of your point of view and settling the appeal.

If you have not taken one of the steps, you may not have sufficient justification to support your position. You can, however, view the next question if you want to see the rest of the evaluation.

Equity cases may be complex. For guidance see:
Equity Guide
Common weaknesses in equity positions

Questions for Issue 3

Question 3a

Have you calculated the “level of assessment”?

See level of assessment example.

Yes No

 

Instructions for question:

You first need to estimate the market value of your property.  Then, compare this to your assessment to calculate your "level of assessment".

For further assistance, see Step 1 in Equity Guide.

Common weaknesses in equity positions:

In doing your self-evaluation, watch out for these common weaknesses. If you cannot provide better evidence, then you may not have a strong case.

Assessment increase from last year:

You may be unhappy your assessment went up more than your neighbours.  Usually, you will not succeed with this argument:

  • We cannot tell if your previous year's assessment was correct.
  • Your higher increase could be due to last year's assessment being too low.
  • This year's assessment may be fully correct.

 

Only choosing equity comparables that support your point of view:

Have you compared your assessment with all similar properties in your area?

  • Probably, we will not agree with you if there are similar properties that you have not used.

 

Comparison group:

What is the best comparison group?

  • Are you only using a few properties to demonstrate your assessment is unfair?
    • You must show why they are unique compared to other properties in your area.
  • We usually prefer to look at the largest possible group of comparables.

 

Only comparing assessments within the same area:

When you are looking at equity, you cannot compare properties that are in different municipalities or taxing jurisdictions from your property.

 

 

Must look at the total assessment:

When you are comparing your assessment with others, you cannot just look at the land or improvements.

  • The Assessment Act requires that you look at the total assessment.  This is because it is possible that your land or improvements appear unfair, but that your overall total assessment is fair.

Level of assessment examples:

  1. My property is assessed at $500,000 and it sold on July 1st last year for $450,000.  The level of assessment is $500,000 / $450,000 = 1.11.  Your property is assessed 11% above its market value. 
  2. My property is assessed at $270,000 and I have an appraisal that shows its market value on July 1st last year was $300,000.  The level of assessment is $270,000 / $300,000 = 0.9.  Your property is assessed at 10% below its market value.

Question 3b

Which group do you want to compare your assessment with?

Question 3c

Is your smaller group of properties unique in some important way from other properties in your area?

Yes No

Keep in mind:

It is important that they have so different that buyers see them differently from other properties.  See equity examples.

Equity examples:

 

Example 1 - Waterfront:

Buyers usually see waterfront properties as very different from non-waterfront properties.  (And, usually pay much more for being on the water).

  • Probably, a waterfront property should be compared to other waterfront properties.  They are seen as significantly different from properties not on the water.

 

Example 2 - Number of bedrooms:

You have a 3-bedroom house.  Some houses in your neighbourhood have 3 bedrooms and some have 4 bedrooms.

  • While some buyers may prefer more rooms, others may prefer fewer but larger rooms.
  • It may be hard to show that buyers see 3 versus 4 bedroom homes as very different.

Probably, it is more appropriate to compare all single family houses in your municipality.

 

As a general rule:

We, at the Board, prefer a larger group of comparables unless there is a clear reason to look at a smaller group.

Question 3d

Do you have the equity statistics for your comparison group (called Assessment to Sales Ratios or ASRs)?

Yes No

 

Obtaining equity stats:

BC Assessment can usually provide you with the equity statistics for the entire taxing jurisdiction and, sometimes, for your neighbourhood.

If you are using a smaller comparison group, you will need to calculate the level of assessment on your own. You must first obtain the market values of the properties in this group and then compare them to their assessments. Finding the market values is the most difficult task. Most often, parties look at properties that have sold some time last year.

For further guidance, see Equity Statistics.

Equity basket example:

It could be argued that the market significantly distinguishes waterfront from non-waterfront properties. So, an argument could be made that the appropriate basket of properties for analyzing the equity of a waterfront property is other waterfront properties in the same taxing jurisdiction.

However, it may be more difficult to demonstrate that the market significantly distinguishes between 3 versus 4 bedroom homes, such that the appropriate comparison basket might be all single family houses in the taxing jurisdiction.

Question 3e

Is the level of assessment for your property significantly higher than the Assessment to Sales Ratio (ASRs) for your comparison group (i.e. more than a few percent)?

Yes No

Note: You may have other issues or concerns. See: List of other issues.