Homeowners who feel the assessed value of their property assessment is too high should appeal.
Reporter/Byline: Sean Cooper, Special to the Star
Homeowners who feel the assessed value of their property assessment is too high should appeal. I did and have saved myself $15 a month in a process that took some time, but wasn’t overly complicated.
In August 2012, I bought my first house, a beautifully renovated three-bedroom bungalow in Scarborough, which cost $425,000. I loved everything about it, except the property taxes, which came in at more than $3,000 a year. In October, when I received my property assessment notice I discovered the assessment and my taxes were going up. The assessed value was $65,000 higher than my purchase price.
My father’s two-storey century house in the Beach area had only been assessed at $100,000 more. It didn’t seem fair, so I decided to appeal.
First I visited AboutMyProperty.ca and the property taxes section of Toronto.ca I spoke with family and friends and contacted my real estate agent and mortgage broker to get their opinion. They agreed that the assessment was high.
I phoned the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) and requested a copy of the Comparable Property Report. The report included six similar properties in my neighbourhood handpicked by MPAC. Although the assessed values were similar, most were in more desirable locations. My house is located near an arterial road, while the comparable properties are steps away from the pricey Scarborough Bluffs. I made note of this, as location is one of the five major factors that account for 80 per cent of your property’s value, according to MPAC.
I was convinced my neighbourhood was overvalued, so I requested a copy of the home appraisal from my lender. My appraisal included everything I needed: comparable properties, photos and the estimated value. I also requested a report of similar properties that had recently sold in my neighbourhood from my real estate agent.
Once I was ready to file my appeal, I downloaded a copy of the Request for Reconsideration form from AboutMyProperty.ca. The form was pretty straightforward, although I made sure to include as many reasons as possible as to why I believed my assessment should be lower.
For example, my property is near apartment buildings, while MPAC’s comparable properties are surrounded by properties that sell for over $1 million. I submitted the Request for Reconsideration form online in November, well ahead of the March 31st deadline and included a copy of my home appraisal and photos of my neighbourhood.
In January 2013, I received a notice in the mail. Much to my delight my assessment value had been lowered by a whopping $74,000. According to MPAC, the adjustment was based on the similar properties I included.
Filing an appeal was time-consuming, but well worth it. I’ll save at least $700 in property taxes over the next four years, money I can put towards my mortgage.
How to appeal your property assessment
- Compare your assessed value with similar properties in your neighbourhood to determine if it’s overvalued.
- Visit AboutMyProperty.ca and Toronto.ca to learn more about your property assessment.
- Request the Comparable Properties Report from MPAC.
- Request your home appraisal from your lender and request a report of similar properties that have recently sold from your real estate agent.
- When filing your Request for Reconsideration, include compelling reasons and supporting documentation, such as recent home appraisals and photos.
First published in the Toronto Star on March 6, 2013