Investors and city hall in showdown over taxes

“First of all you do have to be absolutely convinced that, that value is inflated,” said Ahmed Assaf, head of the Edmonton-based Excel Commercial Group. “But if it does exceed the true value of your property, as an investor, you have to look at this as a business and you have to look at reducing every fixed cost you have, and appealing property taxes is one of them.”

Indeed.

Assaf points to two recent examples where clients both fought city hall and won, clawing back as much as 20 per cent of their tax expenses by filling in the paperwork, presenting an appraisal and digging in their heels.

“There is definitely a benefit in challenging the assessment,” said Assaf, both a Realtor and commercial mortgage broker specialist, “and I don’t think it’s the big arduous process that many make it out to be, although that is what keeps a lot of investors from launching a protest.”

Municipalities across the country have in fact streamlined the process, moving much of it online along with an automated property evaluation process, which nonetheless produces the occasional error.

Assessing the value of small, aging apartment buildings is particularly challenging, say analysts, suggesting investors in that segment of the market may be better positioned to beat city hall.

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