Carmen Luk owns a property in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
It’s in the posh district of Shaughnessy, where residences are priced in the millions of dollars.
Luk’s place at 1168 West 32nd Avenue was assessed at $4.7 million. That’s $4.4 million for the 9,750-square-foot lot and $281,000 for the 3,323-square-foot house.
Luk isn’t happy. She believes that the assessment was too low and that her lot should have a value of $4.8 million.
She does not dispute the $281,000 assessment for the house, and if she had her way, the property would be worth a total of $5.1 million.
Luk questioned the valuation before the B.C. Property Assessment Appeal Board, claiming that the property was not appraised equitably. However, she failed to convince the board that her lot should be priced higher.
In his decision and order, panel chair Larry Dybvig concluded that there is “insufficient evidence that the assessed value of the subject property is inequitable”.
The case turned on two factors: the shape and the location of the lot.
Luk’s land is of irregular shape, like a slice of pie, which Dybvig described as a “parallelogram with one particularly narrow base and generally triangular”. According to the panel chair, the assessor was able to demonstrate that there is a discount of seven to 20 percent on pie-shaped lots compared to regularly shaped lands.
“Based on the evidence before me, I find that the shape of the lot has an effect on its value,” Dybvig wrote.
To illustrate, the assessor analyzed 15 lots near Luk’s property. As the panel chair related, four are corner lots of various irregular shapes, while 11 are of regular, rectangular form.
The rectangular lots are assessed at between $472 and $504 per square foot. Most are around $490.
Compared to the assessment of $490, Dybvig noted that Luk’s property valuation of $458 per square foot is seven percent lower, which can be attributed to shape.
To support her appeal, Luk cited the assessments of two irregularly shaped properties in Shaughnessy.
One is at 4575 Alexandra Street, assessed at $486 per square foot. The other is at 4537 Beverly Crescent, assessed at $504 per square foot.
The average land assessment of the two properties comes to $495 per square foot. If applied to Luk’s 9,750-square-foot lot, that would produce the woman’s preferred assessment of about $4.8 million.
However, the assessor pointed out that the two properties cited by Luk were west of Granville Street. In this area, properties have a seven percent to 34 percent premium over those to the east of the Granville, where Luk’s property is located.