BC Homeowners should start receiving the 2014 property assessment notices the first week of January 2015. This leaves approximately three weeks to verify the assessment and, if the homeowner feels it is incorrect, to start the assessment appeal process. Yet less than 2% of approximately 1.9 million property assessment notices issued by the BC Assessment Authority are challenged. The authors of a new ebook believe that residents must verify and appeal their assessment as the most effective way to reduce their share of property taxes.
“There is a belief that the assessment notice is always correct”, said Peter Morris co-author of the ebook How to Successfully Appeal Your BC Property Assessment And Reduce your Property Tax Bill; “however, the methodology used by the BC Assessment Authority only provides a computed range of values. It is then left to the homeowner to actually verify that the information is correct. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know that the onus is on them to make sure their assessed value is correct”. Morris believes that homeowners should start the process now since the period between receiving the notice and the deadline for launching an appeal is so short.
British Columbia publisher Attainment Press recently released the new 61 page e-book written by Peter Morris and Tim Down. This informative book shows homeowners how to verify their property assessment and prepare an appeal, if needed.
Morris and Down, the book’s co-authors, both have impressive real estate credentials to undertake the subject of verifying and appealing residential property assessments. Mr. Morris has more than 30 years of real estate experience and has successfully appealed his own assessments on a number of different properties. Tim Down, AACI, P. App, CAE, RI is a professional appraiser and licensed real estate agent with over 26 years of experience as an appraiser, assessor, property tax agent, consultant and realtor. He worked as a senior assessment supervisor at the BC Assessment Authority for 11 years. The two use their combined knowledge to show homeowners what they need to do, and how to do it.
“Most of the assessment appeals are related to commercial property,” said Morris, “our book deals with residential property such as houses, townhomes and condominiums. It is a step by step guide in seven short chapters that reviews the assessment process, explains how to verify an assessment, and how to prepare and present a compelling appeal, if warranted.” Down explained that commercial assessment appeals are far more complicated and technical so it is best to engage a professional for all commercial appeals. However, most homeowners can conduct their own appeal if they understand the process, what is needed for a successful appeal and how to craft your case to the review panel.
According to both Down and Morris, there are several unfounded reasons so few homeowners attempt to appeal their assessments.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that the process is difficult,” Morris stated. Both authors believe that once the homeowner understands the principles and structure of the annual property assessment valuation process they are well equipped to handle an appeal. They have dedicated almost half their e-book to explaining the assessment process in BC.
Down states that another misconception is an increasing assessed value is a good thing for the house value on resale and that appealing the assessment actually hurts the homeowners’ net worth. Morris gives three reasons why this shouldn’t be a concern for over 95% of homeowners. The first is that the value of the property is set as of July 1 (October 31 in the case of newly built and substantially remodeled properties) but the assessment notice is provided 6 months later. That time lag means the value of the property at sale will be different than the assessed value established six months, or more, previously.
The second is the homeowner may be concerned that a lower assessed value may hurt the refinancing of their mortgage, if it will renew soon. The authors both say the lender will obtain a current appraisal and will not rely on the assessed value alone because of the time lag between the assessment date and the notice,
The third reason why homeowners shouldn’t be concerned about appealing their assessment is because most people live in their homes for many years and are not actually anticipating selling their property.
Morris and Down see long term benefits of successfully appealing your residential assessment, such as the potential property tax savings that may amount to hundreds of dollars annually.
Although residents have yet to receive the current assessment notices, homeowners can immediately start gathering the information they will need for verification process and a potential appeal. This book outlines the information that is currently available and how to obtain it. “In fact, it is important to start early because the window to appeal is fairly short,” said Morris. He notes that homeowners must file their notice to appeal before Jan. 31.
The book is only available as an electronic download from the Attainment Press website at www.attainmentpress.com. The cost is $39.99.