As a Realtor who has helped hundreds of Ottawa clients buy their first homes over the past three decades, I sometimes hear from clients after they receive their first MPAC assessment notice in the mail.
What are these assessments and what do they mean?
The notices are issued by Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corp., the not-for-profit corporation funded by municipalities to assess and classify properties across Ontario. Municipalities use these assessments to calculate the property tax you pay each year, to help fund city services.
MPAC conducts assessments every four years, based on information homeowners have provided about their property’s size, number of rooms and other features. It also looks at recent sales of what it believes are comparable properties in your neighbourhood.
With the most recent assessment dating from 2016, the next scheduled MPAC assessments will be issued in 2020, when homeowners will receive the new assessments that will affect their taxes for the following four years.
These MPAC assessments do not necessarily reflect what Realtors would determine is the market value of your property when you list it for sale.
MPAC assessments in many cases are a behind the actual current market, partly because they are only done every four years. They also can be lower than what you could get if, for example, you have done extensive renovations to bathrooms, kitchens or bedrooms and your home stands above other similar properties in your area.
By nature, the MPAC assessment also can’t consider current conditions of a local market, which can affect what a buyer will pay for your home.
If inventory is lower than usual, for example, buyers will sometimes be competing for homes, and this can result in higher final sale prices than when there are many properties on the market.
When I am working with sellers, I come to our first meeting after researching prices similar homes have received recently, and we decide on a list price using that information.
The market value, in short, is what a buyer is willing to pay and what a seller will accept in a current market. This may or may not be close your MPAC assessment.
Because the MPAC assessment affects property taxes, however, many homeowners like to know more about how these values are determined and what they can do if they feel the assessment is inaccurate.
On its site, www.mpac.ca, MPAC explains how assessments are done, how they affect you during the time between assessments and how you can request a review.
On MPAC’s affiliated site, www.aboutmyproperty.ca, you can learn more about how your specific property was assessed, see the information MPAC has on file about your home, update the information and compare your home to others in your neighbourhood. It’s here that you can request a review of your assessment, at no charge. Your notice will give you the deadline to request such a review after receiving your notice.
If you have more questions, you can contact MPAC at 1-866-296-6722. Have your 19-digit roll number handy when you call. This number is printed on the property assessment notice.
If you’re interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about the Ottawa market and conditions in your neighbourhood. You can read more about me and my team at www.nancybenson.com, where you can view my current listings and get an idea of the sophisticated presentation and marketing we offer to our sellers.
Nancy Benson operates a full-service office at RE/MAX Hallmark Realty and specializes in unique homes in the most desirable neighbourhoods of Ottawa. Whether you're buying, selling, acquiring an investment or a secondary home, we have a system that will work for you.