Assessed value vs. price, Seller’s old appliances


Dear David,

I was at an open house listed at $500,000. In the listing, I noticed that the taxes on the property were based on a value of $335,000. In my opinion, this house is a gut job. How can the agent believe someone will pay that price, then still spend a fortune on renovations?   – SCRATCHING MY HEAD

DEAR SCRATCHING: A half-million dollars doesn’t buy as much as it used to. That said, the significant disconnect you’ve noticed between the assessed value of this home ($335,000) and the asking price ($500,000) is due to the rise in property value that has occurred in the period of time between MPAC property assessments.

MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation) is the provincial government body tasked with assessing property values for property tax purposes. MPAC will re-assess a property every four years. Historically, MPAC values are rarely the same as actual market values and tend to lag behind them. While real estate market values are constantly changing and generally on the rise, MPAC valuations represent a single snapshot within a four-year cycle.

Generally speaking, property values in our region have seen a market increase in excess of 40 percent over the last four years. While I haven’t seen the property in question, I expect this may explain the widening discrepancy between its assessed value and the asking price.

Dear David,

We recently purchased a property. When we took possession, we found that the sellers left a number of old appliances behind. Is there anything we can do about this? – IRRITATED

DEAR IRRITATED: Moving day is certainly not a time when you need unwelcome surprises. To avoid challenges like these, I arrange for my clients to do a final walk-through as close to their closing time as possible. I also write it into my contracts that sellers will remove any chattels not being purchased and leave the home in clean, undamaged and broom-swept condition.

Yet even with contingencies, perfection is not always possible. Sellers often end up moving out on the same day they close. This is not a practise I condone, as it may prevent a buyer from being able to see that a property is in the agreed-upon condition before money changes hands.

Now that you’ve been left with the seller’s old appliances, you’ll have to pick the hill you are willing to die on, as the saying goes. You can start with a call to your lawyer, but if funds have already changed hands, there’s probably not much you can do outside of heading to small claims court. Enlisting a junk removal service would be an easier bet. Keep the bill, in case you decide to pursue a case later.

Throughout my career, I’ve ascribed to the theory that a little consideration between buyers and sellers can go a long way. A few years back, a seller of mine mistakenly had his cell phone delivered to his old address after closing. He had treated the buyer well, and the phone was gladly returned. Pro tip: be courteous of one other, you never know when bad behaviour might come back to haunt you. #AskDavid