Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:01

Revaluation indicates significant increase in Swift Current property values

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The positive economic climate in the province has been a boon to property owners, who have seen a steady increase in the resale value of their properties.

Swift Current residents will see the higher value of their properties reflected in their new assessment notices that will be mailed during February.
While the City sends out these notices every year, the 2013 assessments will include the updated values from the recently completed revaluation of residential and commercial properties in Swift Current.
“I think that just about everybody in the city knows that their property value has increased over the last number of years,” City Assessor Michael Kehler said. “This is just a reflection of what everybody or most people already know and that is that the market value has increased in the city and in the area as well.”
Residents already had an opportunity to learn more about the updated values of their properties. The City hosted a revaluation open house for residential property owners on Jan. 23 and a similar event for commercial property owners on Jan. 29.
The revaluation of assessed properties happens every four years in Saskatchewan. Last year's assessments were still based on property values of June 30, 2006. This revaluation shifts the property values to a Jan. 1, 2011 base date for the entire province.
“So basically what ends up happening is we’re reflecting the market changes between 2006 and 2011,” Kehler said.
The City’s assessment office has been preparing the updated values for the past two years and submitted the data to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs in April 2012.
“So we’ve been prepared for quite some time but there’s always the little tinkering that you do,” he said. “You got to get all the little last minute things done, and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few months.”
They used statistical measures to adjust property sales to the updated time frame. An assessment reflects the fee simple interest in a property, which includes the land, buildings and the rights to the property.
“We consider that our assessment is a market value,” he said. “A market value isn't necessarily the same as a sales price. A sales price is one opinion of value.”
According to Kehler the average value of residential properties in Swift Current has increased about 47 per cent from 2006 to 2011. But there are variances between different property types. For example, the value of two-storey properties increased slightly more than the average.
For this revaluation the City did not use the cost approach to value for the assessment of commercial property, but implemented a full market value standard.
The average value of commercial properties has increased with about 108 per cent and with around 100 per cent for apartment buildings. For a typical apartment building the base value in 2006 was $161,200 compared to $299,600 on Jan. 1, 2011.
“So that’s a significant change in the marketplace,” he said. “We don’t create the value, we’re just trying to reflect it from what we see with property sales.”
Kehler emphasized increased property values will not necessarily result in higher property taxes. Residents will only know that after the budget process, when the 2013 mill rates are determined.
“Some properties increase at a higher rate, some at a lower rate and because it’s the basis of tax, some property taxes will go up and some property taxes will go down because the total assessment goes up on an aggregate basis,” he said.
After receiving their assessment notices towards the middle or end of February, residents will have 60 days to file an assessment appeal.
“The appeals can only be based on inaccuracy of your assessment,” he explained. “So if your taxes are going up but you have no issue with what your property is worth, then there’s no basis for an appeal.”
Kehler said the City’s assessment office would welcome any inquiries from property owners about the revaluation process.
“We’ll be very happy to tell them exactly how we arrived at the value that we did and the process we go through in order to get there,” he added.

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