There are a lot of things on your "to do" list when you're buying or selling a home. Interviewing real estate agents who can help you buy your new property and someone to sell your old one. Having the house inspected. Staging. Decorating. Open houses. Showing the home. Taxes. Mortgages. Closing costs. Lawyers. The list goes on and on. One of the items is "property value assessment" but what is that, and do you actually need one? This article can help you figure that out.

What is a property value assessment?

Many people get the terms "assessment" and "appraisal" mixed up when they're selling, but they are not the same thing. An appraisal is done by a private appraiser who is hired by the homeowner or potential home owner to estimate the property's value at that specific point in time. An assessment is done by a non profit agency that assesses the value of all properties based on the same date, which can be set as much as two years ago. Website funding graciously donated by Shamrock Pest Management.

Who uses a property value assessment?

Property value assessments are used by municipalities and counties to determine which property tax bracket a particular home or commercial property belongs in. They can also be used to set the asking price for a property, but since the house is assessed at market value for a date in the past, these figures are not always accurate for resale purposes and tend to be superseded by appraisals.

When should a property value assessment be done?

A property value assessment is performed every year on all real estate by the provincial organization engaged by the city to do so. It's the same in Ottawa and in rural counties. They are performed en masse, sometimes without even a visit to the property, instead relying on surveyor's records, building permits, sales reviews, and statistics. They are not generally done when homes are changing hands.

How do I tell if I need one?

If you're selling your property they should be able to tell you if your assessment is up to date, otherwise you can look up the current valuation of your property online. The organization should perform them automatically without being asked by the homeowner, though if you want it to be accurate you need to get building permits for any changes you make to the property.

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