Understanding Why The City’s Assessment, A Realtor’s Market Evaluation, & An Appraiser’s Value May Be Different.
You receive a City Tax Assessment in the mail in January of each year. Then, when considering the sale or refinance of your home, a Realtor tells you what they believe your home should be priced. If refinancing, a Lender will request an appraisal and usually, all THREE values are different! To top everything off, as you have an emotional connection to your home, you likely have your own opinion of what your home should be valued. Why these differences exist and understanding the different valuations can help ensure there are no surprises when considering your home’s worth.
HOW DOES THE CITY DETERMINE ASSESSED VALUE?
The City uses an assessed value to determine how much property tax you are billed each year. City Assessors derive this value by using a technique based on a mass appraisal model that values groups of properties instead of individual homes. For example, if a Builder puts up three identical homes side by side and lists them all for $300,000 but sells them for $280,000 (an offered price), $300,000 (list price), and $320,000 (an inflated price due to multiple bids). In this instance, all three homes would still be assessed for the same tax amount.
This assessment is based on the estimated value as determined by your local assessment department on July 1 of the previous year. As assessments are based on yearly data, some of the information Assessors use may be outdated as comparisons to other homes and neighbourhoods may not take into account a “hot market” or rapidly accelerating (or decelerating in a “downturn market”) values.
HOW DO REALTORS DETERMINE MARKET VALUE OF YOUR HOME?
The purpose of a Realtor Current Market Analysis is to estimate what a Realtor believes a Buyer would be willing to pay for your home in the current market. Realtors suggest a PRICE RANGE derived using pending sales, recent sales, and expired of withdrawn listings of comparable properties. Some factors that determine comparable properties are style/size of your home, lot size, year built, proximity to amenities, curb appeal, current market trends, and interior finishes (ie. exotic hardwood flooring, granite countertops, and high end appliances).
Market valuations are typically free of charge and can help give you a good idea of the current fair market value of your home.
HOW DO APPRAISERS DETERMINE VALUE OF YOUR HOME?
Appraised values are impartial, estimated market values as of the effective date of the report (ie. typically the day of the inspection). A Designated Professional Appraiser starts with an onsite inspection that takes into account your property’s location, condition, size, type of construction, bedroom and bathroom counts, flooring, upgrades, and, possibly most importantly, comparable properties SOLD (ideally within the last 90 days from the effective date of the report) in the area or, when unavailable, similar neighbourhoods. Pictures and actual comparable home information is included in the report and the appraised value of the building(s) separate from the appraised value of the land.
Appraisals usually have a cost of $250 to $350 and give a snapshot as of a specific date and legally, Appraisers must report what they see at that particular period of time. This sometimes causes disagreements in value with homeowners as, in the case of an incomplete renovation, the expected finished product cannot be compared to a home with an already completed upgrade.
All in all, which of the above truly gives the most accurate version of you home? When faced with differing values, Lenders choose to use the lower of a Realtor’s market value (ie. MLS listing price) and an appraised value. However, if there is a large disparity between the two, sometimes we can request that an Appraiser take another look at their report and include any missed features or possibly use different sold properties for comparison reports.
In our changing market, it you are thinking of selling, purchasing, or refinancing OR if you would just like a sense of what your home is currently worth, please contact me at 780-863-0700 and I would be happy to either refer you to one of my preferred Realtor and/or Appraiser partners or answer any financing questions.