Understanding your Property Tax Assessment
By Kathy Schmidt
“What matters most is the value of your home relative to other property values”
– Cate Watt, City of Edmonton assessment and taxation branch manager
Fun fact…I used to work for the City of Burnaby where I worked as the Budget Manager. It was a great opportunity to gain a behind-the-scenes understanding of how city finances are managed, so I’ve got a pretty good understanding of how tax assessments work. It’s about the relative value of your property to other homes in Edmonton. The city has a total budget that needs to be shared by all homeowners. To do this, a value is assigned to each home based on an “assessed value”. If you’re familiar with condos, you’ll be aware that a “unit factor” is assigned to each condo so that the total costs of running the building are covered. Unit factors are typically assessed on the size of the condo relative to other properties in the building. For a condo, there are always 10,000 unit factors to be distributed among the owners. With the city budget, assessed value is used instead of unit factors. While this is intended to somewhat approximate market value, if you think about it, the city hasn’t been into your home to see its condition or upgrades. They don’t know if you have gorgeous new granite in your kitchen or 1975 countertops. They don’t know if it’s freshly painted or has all new hardwood flooring. In short, they don’t know the market appeal of your home to buyers, which is key to its current market value.. Also, because the assessment calculations have to be done well in advance, they can’t take into account the latest sale that just happened down the street. The current condition of your property and the market are both big factors that I take into account as a real estate agent when I provide an opinion of value to a client. The city isn’t in the business of real estate sales. They’re in the business of looking after our community and assigning the shared cost of doing so as fairly as possible to homeowners.
Make sense? If you have questions about your assessment can always call “311”. And if you’re wondering about your real market value, you can always call your favourite SCHMIDT agent!
Click here to watch a really helpful video explaining tax assessments in plain language (under 5 minutes):