Burnaby couple disputes low property value assessment

Property owners at times disagree with government assessors. They complain, typically, that their assets were appraised too high. That’s understandable, because a greater valuation equals a bigger property tax.

Wen Hu and Robert Wang didn’t agree with the assessment of their property—but for the opposite reason. They believed that their Burnaby house at 7060 Halligan Street was valued too low.

They were adamant that the assessor had made a mistake. So they took their case all the way to the Property Assessment Appeal Board of B.C. (There are two levels of appeal for assessment notices in the province; this board is the second level.)

The property in question was built in 1996, with a lot size of 33 feet by 120 feet. The one-storey house has a main floor of more than 1,100 feet and a finished basement of about the same size. Hu and Wang purchased the property in April 2006 for $490,000 and have done several upgrades.

According to the board’s decision, dated October 18, 2013, the appellants reported that since their purchase, “they refinished the entire basement, upgraded the windows to double glass, refinished the kitchen and bathroom in the basement, built a fence around the house, repainted the interior wall of the basement, upgraded the front and back deck, added attic insulation, and installed new laminate and floor tile on the first level”.

The 2013 assessment was $573,000 for land and $123,000 for improvements for a total of $696,000. The owners said that it should be more.

In the end, the board confirmed the assessor’s valuation. It relied on the evidence presented by the assessor on the sale of three comparable properties within 1.8 kilometres of the appellants’ house.

So why did Hu and Wang want a higher assessment?

Property-assessment expert David Nishi-Beckingham wasn’t involved in the case but obliged the Georgia Straight when sought for his opinion. He is the director of B.C. operations for AEC Property Tax, a consulting firm.

According to Nishi-Beckingham, some banks use the assessed value of a property when evaluating an owner’s application for a loan. He also said that some sellers may be concerned that their property doesn’t reflect market value.

As someone who has been in the property-assessment business for about 20 years, Nishi-Beckingham said that this is the first time he has heard about property owners complaining that their assets were valued too low.

Amused, Nishi-Beckingham said on the phone that this is, indeed, “pretty unusual”.




Oct 22, 2013 at 9:56pm

I think the most likely reason is that Hu and Wang are intending to sell the property and want the higher assessment in order to get a higher price. Provincial assessments are routinely used as a benchmark by prospective buyers as to the value of the property.


Oct 23, 2013 at 9:50am

If you were trying to borrow money against the value of the house you would want a higher assessed value.


Oct 23, 2013 at 10:48am

If they are nearing renewal time, and the assessment places the value of the home lower then the outstanding principle of the mortgage they will need pay the bank the difference before renewal or default on their mortgage.

The writing is on the wall

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:11pm

The writing is all over the wall's, many folk in BC are tapped out, house prices are no longer headed higher, bad news for many years ahead.


Oct 24, 2013 at 1:16pm

Too bad for you.

This is going to end so badly.


Oct 24, 2013 at 4:48pm

These guys don't sound very bright. No one uses property tax assessment as a benchmark for buying houses. It is always recent comparables +/- market direction. What kind of an idiot would look at the assessment?

If anything, like Randy points, out, this could cause them some problems on mortgage renewal.

I think the city should re-assess at $1 billion, which should make the couple ecstatic, then levy property tax appropriately.

T Ashman

Apr 5, 2015 at 2:31pm

I have appealed my property for the third year being TO LOW. My neighbours property keep going up by $18000.00 a year and mine keep going down by $18000.00 a year. I have lost all 3 times. the property that is going up is very old NO MAINTENANCE and in need for a major reno.
Mine is the newest on the street and same size big CLEAR OCEAN view, The other properties do not have much of a Ocean View. They used the same excuse Sale on other properties in the area but that only affect my property Not my neighbours. The next door do not even have a finished drive way. Drive through the bush. Terrible. shape and they have had their property increase by almost 60,000 over the last year I have lost 60K. Diff of 120K. THe appeal board are nothing but a bunch a corrupt idiots.