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Take Heed Of Your Property Tax Assessment – There Could Be Some Savings Here

On January 1, 2017 property assessments became available on the BC Assessment website. And as expected, the increases in property values are substantial: values were calculated as at July 2016 when local real estate prices were at their peak. 

The main issue here is that your property value has risen and you are facing a higher than normal property tax rate hike. 

It is important to note that a sharp increase in your property value does not necessarily indicate a proportional property tax hike; it’s relative to how much your property appreciated compared to others in the same municipality. 

In view of this year’s higher assessments, the Provincial government just announced an increase in the Home Owner Grant threshold from $1.2million to $1.6million, in an effort to assist homeowners whose property values and taxes have increased substantially. 

Since July 2016, prices in some neighbourhoods have marginally declined while others have not.  There are a number of homeowners who strongly disagree with their assessments. If you are one of them should you file an appeal? 

You have until January 31 to appeal your property assessment.  Before you do, consider the following: 

  • There are 2 arguments for appeal: either that the assessed market value of your property is too high based on comparable sales, or that you were unfairly assessed in comparison to your neighbors. 
  • There is not a straightforward correlation between your property taxes and your property value  – the important factor here is how your property fared relative to others in your property class and local taxing jurisdiction. 
  • An appeal could work against you as a second review of your property may reveal that you were initially under assessed. 

If your property value went up 30% or 40% don’t panic. It does not mean that your property tax will increase by that much. What matters is how much your value appreciated relative to other homes in your municipality. 

If you are unsure on how to handle the recent dramatic rise in your property value and whether you should appeal or not, we have experts who can advise you as to the best course of action. Contact us on 604 695 1000, email us or visit our offices on 1280 West Pender St. 

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“Virtual Staging” Can Be Misleading. Make Sure You Are Aware Of This

We are living in a sophisticated digital era where real estate photo enhancement is being done on a massive scale. There is also sophisticated virtual staging software available, where one can completely transform the makeup of a listing in a very short period of time. Both factors have helped transform the home staging concept.

Consider this:

You find a house that appears to be what you’re after, and you tap into the photos section of the listing to see the interior shots. The house looks great for the asking price. Everything appears to be in good physical condition, you’re impressed by upgrade extras such as crown molding in some rooms, plus granite counters and premium appliances in the kitchen.

You call your real estate agent and arrange a visit to the house. You both walk in and what you find is not what you expected. The walls have cracks, the carpets are stained and dirty in some places. There are no granite countertops, no premium kitchen appliances. In fact, the kitchen looks really outdated and worn out.Your visit was a waste of time.

This is virtual staging at its best. It requires no physical furnishings like physical staging – just good software and imagination.

As home prices climbed over the past few decades, and new digital photo enhancement technology became widely available and easier to use, it has not been uncommon for sellers to distort their images, making the property look better than it really was.

Now that the market has cooled off, sellers of imperfect homes are resorting to the same tactics lest their listing be overlooked entirely. Photographs are being photoshopped to make them look sharpened, brightened and are cleverly edited. Rooms are being staged to look better than they actually are.

The Real Estate Council of British Columbia has tried to do renovate its legislation to reflect certain technologies. In Its 2013 addition to the Professional Standards Manual reads: “Photo-enhancing computer applications make it easy to manipulate photographs in a variety of ways. While editing out such items as a garbage can or an automobile parked in a driveway would be acceptable, removing nearby power lines or changing any physical characteristic of a property such that it results in a misrepresentation would not be acceptable.”

When looking at listings on line, the age of the home and room measurements should give reasonable hints as to the authenticity of the images. Remember, even the fanciest of photography is no substitute for an on-site visit.  

We are currently in a buyer’s market and an experienced real estate company that has been in business for over 2 decades such as ours, will be able to guide you efficiently and effectively towards your investment goals. Contact us and one of our experienced professionals will be able to answer all your questions and concerns. We have a number of very attractive investment properties for sale.

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