PROPERTY ASSESSMENT APPEAL BOARD

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENTIAL ASSESSMENT APPEAL

You have filed an appeal with the Property Assessment Appeal Board. Now what can you do to prepare for your appeal?

The guide will explain:

This guide is lengthy in order to assist you to present a thorough and well researched case. The Board will decide your appeal based on the best evidence received from you and BC Assessment. The Board does not go out on its own and conduct research or secure evidence for you – this is your responsibility.

You can skip sections that do not apply to your case. We encourage you to use the Tips sections in this document. See Assessment Terms for definitions of legal, real estate, and appraisal terminology that you may not be familiar with.

You may want to download the property comparison charts in MS Word format and use them for your analysis and presentation.

The information is intended to assist those unfamiliar with the Board’s appeal process. It is not offered as legal or appraisal advice. You may wish to seek advice from a valuation professional, such as an appraiser or real estate salesperson/broker. You could seek advice from a lawyer, although this is not necessary for most residential appeals.

COMMON GROUNDS FOR RESIDENTIAL APPEALS

My Assessment does not reflect changes or physical problems with my property:

There may have been changes to the improvements or “physical inventory” of your property 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).

My assessment does not reflect market value:

Your property’s assessment must accurately reflect its “actual value” on July 1st of the previous year (the Valuation Date), and reflect its condition as of October 31st of that year. Actual value means the market value of your property.

You may disagree that your property’s assessed value equals its market value. For example, your property was assessed at $300,000 as of July 1, but you believe its market value at that time was in fact $250,000.

My assessment is not consistent or fair compared to assessments of other similar properties:

If you are concerned that your property has not been fairly or consistently assessed compared to the assessment of similar properties, then you have an appeal on what is called “equity”. Pursuing an appeal on equity generally means you believe other properties are assessed at a lower proportion of market value than your property.

For example, you may agree that your property’s $300,000 assessment represents its market value. However, you have determined other residential properties throughout your area are on average assessed at only 80% of their market value. Equity would dictate your property should also be assessed at 80% of its $300,000 market value, or $240,000. Keep in mind that equity means consistency of the system overall. It does not mean exact equivalency for every individual property.

STEPS IN THE APPEAL PROCESS

I. PRELIMINARY STEPS

Step 1: Verify the physical attributes of your property

Call your local BC Assessment office and ask for a copy of your property’s “physical inventory”. Verify that this inventory is correct.

If there is a physical problem with your property that you think significantly affects its value (for example, water damage), you should take photographs of the problem area and get written confirmation from at least one reputable contractor that the problem exists as well as an estimate of the costs to repair.

Step 2: Do some preliminary market research

In order to have fruitful discussions in the first two stages of your appeal, you should do some preliminary market research. If you have a value-based appeal, research the sales of similar properties around the Valuation Date. See the advice in the Preparing Submissions on the Market Value of your Property section. While at this stage you do not need to conduct a comprehensive or in-depth analysis, you should at least have some sales of similar properties to support your arguments.

Step 3: Talk to your local BC Assessment office

Don’t assume that BC Assessment knows why you are dissatisfied with your assessment and will disagree with you. Even though you have already gone through the first level of appeal, the Board asks that you and BC Assessment have further discussions. It is best not to delay speaking with BC Assessment as these discussions will often result in the settlement of your appeal.

BC Assessment will check your information and may want to inspect your property to confirm your facts and the condition of your property.

If BC Assessment can successfully explain to you the accuracy or fairness of your assessment you may write to the Board indicating that you wish to withdraw (or discontinue) your appeal.

Sometimes, BC Assessment will agree with you that the assessment should change. BC Assessment will then complete a Recommendation form which you will both sign. The Recommendation will then be sent to the Board for approval. This will then conclude your appeal.

If your appeal is not resolved during these preliminary discussions, the Board will arrange a telephone appeal management conference.

II. APPEAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

The Board will schedule a telephone conference appeal management conference with you, a BC Assessment representative, and the Board’s appeal manager. The main purpose of this conference is to:

  1. Discuss the issues, likely evidence, and whether the appeal can be resolved;
  2. If the appeal is not resolved, the Board will set the next steps, such as giving the parties more time to discuss the appeal or setting dates for the parties to produce written submissions to the Board.

During the conference call, you and BC Assessment will be asked to summarize the evidence each of you have to support your positions on the appeal issue(s). You can, if you wish, provide written materials beforehand to the Board and BC Assessment. This material may go no further than this telephone call and will not be provided to the Board member deciding your appeal. If the appeal is not resolved during the teleconference you can submit the same or different evidence in the next stage.

The Board’s appeal manager may provide a non-binding opinion to assist you and BC Assessment to re-evaluate your positions. If the appeal is not settled, a Board member (not the appeal manager) will decide on your case and the appeal manager’s opinion will not carry forward.

III. PREPARING WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS

The majority of appeals that proceed further are decided based on written submissions, where you and BC Assessment write to the Board explaining your position and enclosing your evidence. Your goal in a written submission is to make persuasive and convincing arguments for your position, supported by credible evidence. The best evidence is usually market-based evidence most relevant to the property.

For detailed information on how to prepare your submission, click one or both of the following boxes:

Preparing Submissions on:

Market Value of your Property   Consistency or Fairness (Equity) of your Assessment

Including Relevant Supporting Materials

In addition to your primary evidence on value or equity, you should include with your submission any additional materials that you feel support your arguments. These might include some of the following:

  • the physical inventory reports given to you by BC Assessment;
  • printouts of MLS information;
  • copies of Land Title searches (if applicable to your arguments);
  • evidence, if any, and comments to justify any adjustments you made in comparing your property to the sales comparables;
  • photographs of physical problems, plus an estimate for any loss in value from these problems, such as market evidence and/or a cost estimate of necessary repairs from a reputable contractor; and
  • any other material you have gathered that is important to support your submission, such as photographs and maps.

Take care to only include relevant evidence that supports your arguments.

Ensure you make at least four copies of all your materials, including photographs: two to be sent to the Board, one to be sent to BC Assessment, and one for yourself. You MUST provide these copies by the date ordered by the Board at the telephone conference call. If you do not, the Board may refuse to accept your submissions and evidence.

Click on the following box for: Tips for Supporting Materials

Rebuttal Evidence

BC Assessment will also provide you with a copy of their written submissions and evidence, usually an appraisal report. You will be given an opportunity to review and send in a written reply to their submission (called “rebuttal”). Your rebuttal should discuss the merits of your position relative to BC Assessment’s position. Ensure your rebuttal is received by the date noted in the Board order. Please note in the rebuttal:

  • You should not repeat your earlier submission.
  • You cannot introduce a new issue or new evidence, except as it relates to countering the arguments and evidence in BC Assessment’s first submission.

IV. THE BOARD’S DECISION

After the Board receives the rebuttal submissions, it will send you a written decision with reasons as soon as possible. Due to the appeal load it may take a few months before you get this decision.

If the Board decides that the assessment is incorrect, it will order BC Assessment to change it. The Board may increase or decrease the assessed value.

SOURCES OF FURTHER INFORMATION

  1. Preparing Submissions on the Market Value of your Property
  2. Preparing Submissions on the Consistency or Fairness (Equity) of your Assessment
  3. Charts and examples for estimating the market value of your property:

The Board has information sheets with more details about:

1. Overview of the Appeal Process
2. How to File an Appeal
3. Appeal Jurisdiction
4. Appeal Management Conferences
5. Settlement Conferences
6. Hearings by Written Submission
7. In-Person Hearings

8.   Evidence in a Hearing
9.   Adjournments
10. Withdrawing an Appeal
11. Recommendations for Resolving an Appeal
12. Costs
13. Stated Cases
15. Complaints, Comments and Suggestions
16. Options If Unable to Attend a Hearing