experts: real estate column Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions, Questions

Ozzie Jurock answers reader questions on assessments, national real estate companies and selling tips.

By Ozzie Jurock

In logic, 'begging the question' has traditionally described a type of logical fallacy known as a circular argument or circular reasoning. 'Begging the question' often refers to an argument where the premises are as questionable as the conclusion. Of course ... 'begging the question' can also mean that a statement just invites another question. Well, a number of this week's questions really invited other questions and multiple answers ... as in when will the market turn?

I've picked these for you:

Q: I have heard that the premier has frozen all assessments to the 2007 levels. Does that mean January or December 2007? And how long can I defer to pay the taxes? Also, I was going to dispute my 2009 assessment, can I still do that?

A: The B.C. Assessment Authority fixes assessments every year as of July 2. The 2008 assessment you received last January was based on values assessed at July 2, 2007. The freeze was likely meant to forestall a rush of complaints to the BC Assessment Authority ... possibly just like yours. I do not see any reason why you could not dispute your assessment if circumstances have changed. Seniors could already defer the taxes ... Now that deferment is extended to people under 55 for up to two years ... if you have at least 15 per cent equity in your home and 'you can prove' you have financial difficulty. The province will charge interest at the prime rate on the balance outstanding on the tax deferment loan. For information on the B.C. property tax deferment program, visit www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents for the PropertyTaxDeferment.pdf.

Q: Where is there an independent website where you can find out real estate values and market conditions without a realtor?

A: You will find that in this difficult market flooded with tons of information, your realtor (your professional realtor) is likely the best source to interpret the myriad of information. Also the local real estate boards are the definite source of information as far as sales and listings go ... with multi-year statistics. (Vancouver: www.realtylink.org, Fraser Valley board: www.fvreb.bc.ca.) For the best vacancy rate statistics go to CMHC at www.cmhc.ca. (New ones coming up in December.) For the best value stats look up the Assessment Authority at www.bcassessment.bc.ca. Here from December 15 to February 15, you can (normally) check every property in B.C. as to assessed and sales values, not only of your property but also sales for the property you are researching. Finally, for just good old discussion - both pro and con - go to www.realestatetalks.com and vent.

Q: Do you think it makes a difference listing with a national real estate company (e.g. Remax, Century 21) compared to a local independent company? We live in Castlegar, B.C.

A: In terms of knowing local market conditions, showing the property, advising you on list price etc. your local realtor is likely best. However, if you have a unique investment property, you might want to co-list it with a national or even international broker. In a co-list you could have the best of both worlds. If you have large acreage or special property, you may wish to consider making your own website for your property and then list it in the European search engines in Germany, France etc.

Q: I am a small builder. I have a 2100 sq. ft rancher on 1/2 acre listed in April for $689k I have dropped the price five times to $549k. Thinking - should I go all in and drop to my break even of $499k or wait till spring or should I continue to drop more incrementally? I built a similar house next door and sold in July 07 for $589k.

A: I receive these and similar questions all the time. They are also the most difficult to answer, since I do not know whether you built the right property, whether you have a good realtor, whether it is marketed effectively and so on. (Look up 26 ways to make your home sell faster on Jurock.com.) One thing is sure: What it sold for last year, is irrelevant. Look at what is for sale now that compares closest to your property, look at what sold in the last 4 weeks - then list it below that price.

Published in The Vancouver Sun on November 13, 2008




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