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Metro column: Assessment — not what you think

By DJ Kelly January 7, 2011

It’s one of those annual rites of passage in Calgary. Early in every new year each Calgary property owner opens their property assessment and promptly proclaims “my house isn’t worth that much!”

Those who feel the value listed is more than their property is worth scream it from the roof tops and often appeal to the City of Calgary using as many dirty words as possible.

Others who find their property undervalued either snicker to themselves and hope no one notices, or dread the day they sell, fearing they’ll only get a pittance of what they think they should.

Either way, no one is ever happy after opening that envelope and everyone remarks what a terrible job the City of Calgary did in putting a dollar figure to their cherished home.

The problem is — and this is hard to wrap your head around — it doesn’t matter how much the city says your home is worth. That dollar value isn’t important; it’s just a multiplier needed to figure out what share of the tax burden you should pay in relation to everyone else in Calgary.

As a result everyone gets mad at entirely the wrong thing.

What is more important is how that listed value compares to your neighbours’ value.
Don’t get me wrong, the city brings the pain on themselves.

The percentage of Calgary’s property value you own does not need to be viewed as a dollar amount, but they choose to show it to you like that; thus leading to all the misdirected confusion and anger. Marc Doll, a local realtor says, “You wouldn’t believe how much time I have to spend teaching people that the city valuations are not market value.”

So this year, forgo the anger at the “value” of your home and instead visit calgary.ca/assessment and view what others are paying. You can even search your neighbours properties to see if you’re paying your fair share compared to them.

Then ask yourself — “Is there a better way to do this?” A topic for another day.

Original: http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/737048–assessment-not-what-you-think