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On-line Dispute Resolution Guide

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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

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Expected timelines in ODR:

Step When
Board gives you log in instructions to ODR website to start confidential settlement discussions In April or May
BC Assessment: uploads the Property Valuation Summary In first 3 days
Appellant: details concerns with the assessment and uploads documents  In first 5 days
BC Assessment: responds, includes their position on the issues and uploads documents In next 5 days
Both parties: try to reach agreement with further discussions and sharing of documents In next 5 to 7 days
Both parties: can request the assistance of the Board facilitator At anytime
Board facilitator: assists parties reach mutual agreement.  If not resolved, sets deadlines for adjudication In 2 to 3 weeks from start

 

 

 

option1-sub2.jpgYou will have a confidential, online discussion with BC Assessment about your concerns with the property assessment.

You will use the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website – which works a lot like a chat tool.  You can upload evidence documents, pictures or anything that supports your point of view.  Share all the relevant information at this stage.  The more you share, the more likely your appeal can be settled by mutual agreement.

NOTES:

  • ODR is not simultaneous chat.  You will not be online at the same time as BC Assessment.  Both parties should respond to each other within 1 to 2 business days.
  • Discussions and documents in ODR are confidential.  If you make an offer to settle, this offer cannot be used against you if the appeal is not resolved and goes to adjudication.
  • See Nature of Online Discussions on how much detail is appropriate.

The usual steps:

  1. List your concerns with your assessment in the message box and upload any support documents.

  2. BC Assessment will respond and may upload evidence (such as comparable sales).

  3. BC Assessment may raise its own issues. This is permitted.

  4. BC Assessment may ask to view your property. This is often a way of resolving your appeal as BC Assessment may make an offer to settle after an inspection.

  5. You may reach agreement in two ways:
    1. You decide you do not have a strong case and discontinue your appeal (called Withdraw); or
    2. You and BC Assessment agree the assessment should be changed (called a Settlement).

  6. If you do not reach agreement, request a Board facilitator See What happens during the Board facilitation stage?

The best way to resolve your appeal is to provide good arguments and supporting evidence.

Focus on the issues in your appeal – not the personalities:

Communicate in a respectful tone and explain why you disagree with your assessment. Be open to the explanations from the other party.  You will usually not reach agreement if you insult or criticize the other party.  This often causes the other person to become defensive and prevents good discussion on a solution.

Recommendation to you and BC Assessment:

Review your text in ODR message box before you click on "send".

Ask yourself:  Have I used a respectful tone in my communications?  Am I listening to the other person's position or being defensive?
If you are not sure about your answers to these questions, take a break before you click "send".

Just like emails, it is easy for the other party to misread your tone (as they cannot hear your voice).

Do your homework:

You will more likely reach agreement if you provide good information, supported by market evidence. Even if your appeal is not settled, this work will assist you in preparing your submissions to the Board for a decision.

Neither you nor BC Assessment has a burden of proof in the appeal.  Both of you should provide evidence to support your position.  It is not enough to simply criticize the other party’s evidence. 

Use this Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Guide to:
    ο research support for your position
    ο Evaluate the strength of your position

Ways to communicate:

Use the ODR website for discussion rather than your normal email.  If you and BC Assessment do not reach mutual agreement, the Board facilitator will review all discussions in the ODR website and will not see any emails or other communications outside ODR.

Do not be afraid to pick up the phone or meet at your property.  Sometimes this will be more effective than an online discussion.

Respond within 24 to 48 hours.  See Expected Timelines.  If the other party is not responding or cooperating in the online discussion, please email the Board at: office@paab.bc.ca

Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance:

Ask for the Board’s help at anytime.  You may need help in deciding whether to accept a proposal 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:

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

 

If you are online with just BC Assessment, click on the “Request Board facilitator” button in the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website. You will receive an email once the facilitator has joined the online discussion. You can then submit a message in ODR with specific questions or request feedback on your position.

If a Board facilitator is already involved, just send a message to the facilitator with your questions, by using the “Send New Message” box.

If you and BC Assessment do not reach agreement, you can request a Board facilitator by clicking on the request button in ODR. You then have a three-way chat and this stage is called Board facilitation.


The Board facilitator:

  • will review the messages and documents in ODR;

  • may ask you and BC Assessment questions or require either of you to upload additional documents;

  • may set certain deadlines;

  • may provide you and BC Assessment with a non-binding opinion on the appeal. 

You do not have to accept the Board facilitator's opinion.  The facilitator’s comments are not a decision of the Board and the facilitator is NOT providing legal advice.  Rather, the facilitator’s opinions are based on his/her experience as a Board member and are non-binding. 

If you and BC Assessment agree with the facilitator’s suggestions, your appeal will be completed (by either keeping the assessment the same or changing the assessment).  If you or BC Assessment disagrees with the facilitator, we will go to the next stage called adjudication.

Please note:

  1. The facilitator may require you or BC Assessment to do something by a certain deadline.  This is called a Board Order and must be complied with.  If you do not follow a Board Order, the Board may dismiss your appeal. 

  2. If the appeal proceeds to adjudication, another Board member will make a formal decision.  This Board member will not know what opinions were expressed by the facilitator or have access to the discussions and information in ODR.  See: what happens if we do not resolve my appeal?

 

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 Board facilitator must be involved in the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) discussion.  If you are just online with BC Assessment, click on “Request Board facilitator” button. The facilitator will then join the online conversation and you will have a three-way discussion.

In the ODR website, you can select who to send a message to.  If you want a private discussion with the facilitator, you use the drop down (in the "To" box) and select Facilitator.  BC Assessment will not be able to see this confidential conversation.

BC Assessment may also request a private online conversation with the facilitator.

Any private online discussions with the facilitator are confidential unless you or BC Assessment agrees that the facilitator can share the discussions with each other.

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

The facilitator will try to provide you and BC Assessment with feedback based on the information provided in the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website.  You or BC Assessment may disagree with the facilitator’s opinion.  These opinions are non-binding and are not legal advice.

If either of you disagree:

  • The appeal proceeds to adjudication.

  • The decision-maker will be another Board member who will not know what occurred in ODR or what opinions were given by the facilitator.

If both you and BC Assessment agree with the facilitator’s suggestions:

  • The Board will issue a final order to either change or keep your the assessment the same.

  • This will complete your appeal.

Note on Board orders:
The facilitator may require you or BC Assessment to do something by a certain deadline.  This is called a Board Order and must be complied with.  If you do not follow a Board Order, the Board may dismiss your appeal.

If you disagree with a Board order, you may request the facilitator change the order (for example, provide more time). 

 

Yes.

Your discussions in the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website are “without prejudice”.

Both you and BC Assessment can change your positions 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 Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website. 

BC Assessment has the same right to change their position.

For example:
You sent a message to BC Assessment saying you offer to settle the appeal if they reduce your assessment by 15%.  If the appeal does not settle you can change your position and argue that your assessment should be reduced by a different amount.

Notes:

  1. While you may change your position, you can not raise new issues once the appeal proceeds to adjudication. All your issues should be raised during the discussion in ODR.

  2. Information provided in ODR will NOT be forwarded to the Board member deciding your appeal.

The appeal will proceed to adjudication.

The Board facilitator will advise you on the steps and deadlines for adjudication.  For most appeals, you and BC Assessment will prepare written submissions (with all your arguments, supporting documents and market evidence).

The usual steps are:

  1. The Board will close your case in the ODR website. 

  2. You will send your written submissions to the Board and BC Assessment (usually by email and mail). 

  3. Information provided in ODR will NOT be forwarded to the Board member deciding your appeal.  Your written submissions must include everything you want that Board member to consider even if you have provided it in ODR.

  4. The Board member will issue a written decision in 60 to 90 days.

For more details see how does the written submission method work.

Click on one of the below subjects for assistance:

Log into ODR:

Before you start:

  • You should have received an email with instructions to log in and set your password.

  • If you have not seen this email, check your junk email folder.  You may need to adjust you email system to accept emails from ODR.

  • Email Isabella Chin at office@paab.bc.ca if you need assistance. 

Log in steps are:

  1. Go to the website: https://paab.justiceeducation.ca/

  2. Click on the link: Log in to ODR

  3. Enter your email and password and click on Log in

  4. You will be taken to a My Cases list. Homeowners will usually have only one case in this list. Click on View Case.

  5. You will be taken to a page where you can have an online discussion with BC Assessment.

Send or view messages:

To send a message:

  1. You must first:
    • Log into the ODR website
    • click on View Case in the My Cases page
    • this takes you to the communication page.

  2. To enter a message in ODR, first click with your mouse in the interior of the message box called “Type your message”.  You can then type your message. 

    NOTE: You can copy and paste text from a Word document or email into this message box.  You will lose any formatting like underline or bold. 

  3. When you have finished typing your message, click on the Send button.

  4. The other party will receive an email to view and respond to your message.

  5. You will receive an email once they have replied (so you know when to log in).

To view messages:

  1. You must first:
    • Log into the ODR website
    • click on View Case in the My Cases page
    • this takes you to the communication page.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page which shows the Communication History. 

    NOTE:  the messages are displayed in date order with the newest message at the top.
Upload or view evidence and documents:

To upload evidence and documents:

  1. You must first:
    • save the document on your computer
    • Log into the ODR website
    • click on View Case in the My Cases page
    • this takes you to the communication page.

  2. Click on the "Choose file" or "Browse" button, find the file on your computer and select it (by double clicking on the document name or using the open button).

  3. You should now see your document name next to a "Remove" button.

  4. Click on the “Upload” button.

  5. You should now see a message which says “Document has been saved” and document name will show under the “Uploaded Evidence” section (on the right side of the screen).

To view evidence and documents:

  1. You must first:
    • Log into the ODR website
    • click on View Case in the My Cases page
    • this takes you to the communication page.

  2. All documents are located under the “Document Library” title (on the right side of the screen.

  3. Under “Appeal Documents” you will see:

    1. User Expectations (details on confidentiality and your responsibilities in ODR)
    2. Notice of Appeal (which you sent to the Board to start your appeal)

  4. Under “Uploaded Evidence” you will see the names of all the documents that have been uploaded in ODR

  5. To view any document: click once on the document title

NOTES:

  • Documents are stored in date order (with the most recent at the top).
  • Document names have a letter before them to note who uploaded them:
    • A – Appellant (normally the property owner)
    • R – Respondent (normally BC Assessment)
    • B – Board (the Board facilitator or staff).

Change your password:

You can change your password at anytime:

Note:
Before you start ODR, you will receive an email with instructions on how to sign in and set up your password.  We will now show you how to re-set your password later on.

  1. You must first:
    • Log into ODR website using your current password.

  2. Click on the My Profile link at the top left of the webpage. You will be taken to the “Edit Profile” page.

  3. Enter in the following boxes:
    • your current password in the "Current password" box
    • your new password in the "Password" box (lower down the page)
    • your new password again in the "Confirm password" box

  4. Click on the "Save" button at the bottom, then you should see a message saying the changes have been saved.

  5. You can then go to your appeal (by clicking on the My Cases link) or Log out.

View Appeal Details:

You can view details on your appeal such as contact information for those involved in the online discussion and which property is under appeal.

Instructions:

  1. You must first:
    • Log into the ODR website
    • click on View Case in the My Cases page
    • this takes you to the communication page.

  2. Click on the Appeal Details tab (next to Document Library).

  3. To return to the main appeal page, click on Back to Communication.

Where to go for more help:

For any questions or problems using the ODR website contact:

Isabella Chin
Email: office@paab.bc.ca
Phone: 604 775-1740 (toll free 1-888-775-1740) 


For questions on your appeal issue and how to research support contact:

Steve Guthrie
Email: office@paab.bc.ca
Phone: 604 775-1740 (toll free 1-888-775-1740)


For help to resolve your appeal:

  • In this ODR Guide: Do I have a strong case?
    • To evaluate the strength of your position
    • Help in deciding if you should accept a suggestion from BC Assessment.

  • In the ODR website: Request a Board facilitator
    • If you still need help to resolve your appeal.
    • If you are not able to reach agreement in your online discussions with BC Assessment.

← Choose a Question

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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 Online 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 Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website.


For an effective online 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 Online 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.

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 Online 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.