What is Property Assessment?
- Property assessment is the estimated value of a property for municipal and education taxation purposes. The property taxes that citizens pay are calculated in proportion to the value of the real estate property they own. Determining the value of a property for taxation purposes is known as assessment. Assessed values are a means of fairly distributing the tax burden and ensuring that each property owner pays a fair level of tax in relation to his or her neighbour(s). Qualified assessors, contracted by the Town of Westlock, prepare an assessment annually for each property, based on provincial assessment legislation and regulations. Annual assessments are part of the regular cycle of activities that provincial legislation requires the Town to undertake.
All property values should reflect typical market value based on current economic conditions. The assessed values are used to determine how much municipal and school taxes each property owner pays. The assessed value shown on your annual assessment and tax notice will reflect the value of your property based on its physical condition and characteristics as of December 31. If your property was not completely finished or occupied by this date, your assessment and tax notice will reflect this and, once the property is completed or occupied, a supplementary assessment and tax notice will be mailed at a later date in the same year.
For the "Guide to property assessment and taxation in Alberta" available through Alberta Municipal Affairs, click on the following link. "Guide to property and taxation in Alberta"
What is Market Value?
- Market value is the most probable price that a property would sell for on the open market as of a given date. An assessor reviews and measures the real estate market to establish typical market rates.
How is a Market Assessment Done?
- The market sets the value of your property. Three methods may be used to estimate market value assessments:
- a comparison and analysis of similar properties that have sold;
- analysis of the rental income properties generate; and
- the replacement cost on a building plus a value for vacant land.
What Effects Market Value?
- The supply and demand for property of particular types or locations affects market value. The community, or where the home is located in the community, plus the surroundings in the neighbourhood are factors. For example, a location beside a large park may add to value, whereas a location on a traffic corridor may reduce the market value. Physical attributes - such as size of house, type of construction, lot size, age and condition, existence and type of garage - all affect market value.
What if I Disagree with My Assessment?
- If you believe the assessor has made an error on your assessment, you have the opportunity for it to be reviewed with you. Once you have talked to an assessor, if you are still not satisfied, you may file a written complaint to the Assessment Review Board within 60 days of the date on your assessment notice. Contact the Town's finance unit for more information on filing an assessment appeal.
- Additional information is available to download on filing an assessment complaint from the Alberta Municipal Affairs webpage.
How Do Renovations or Additions Affect My Assessment?
- Your assessment is based on typical market value, so any significant changes to your home will likely increase its market value. Therefore, your assessment may increase. If you have any questions or would like to speak to an Assessor, please contact the Tax office at 780.349.4444.
Why Has My Assessment Changed?
- Re-assessments are conducted annually to ensure that recent market fluctuations are reflected in the assessed value of your property. With the market conditions in Westlock, you can expect your assessment to change annually.
What is Mass Appraisal?
- Mass appraisal is the process of valuing many properties as of a specific valuation date, using standard methods, employing common data and allowing for statistical testing. The use of a mass-appraisal process results in assessments that are accurate in comparison to the market standard and uniform in comparison to similar properties.
My House was Built During the Current Taxation Year. Will I receive an assessment notice?
- The assessments mailed at the end of April reflect the physical condition of the property as of December 31. If a house was partially complete as of that date, the assessment includes a value for the lot plus a value for the building based on the per cent complete. If your house is completed or occupied this year, you will receive a supplementary assessment notice that reflects the total value of the property less the amount that has already been assessed for the land and building as partially complete. The supplementary assessment is pro-rated to reflect the number of months the house is complete or occupied.
What will Happen to My Assessment if I Improve my Property?
- Improvements that increase the market value of a property will generally increase the assessment. Typical items that may increase the assessed value are:
- additions to existing structures and/or new structures
- extensive modernization/renovations
- Normal maintenance will help retain the market value of a property but not necessarily affect the assessment.
How is an accurate assessment made of my property?
- The Town of Westlock attempts to inspect each property every five years. Property assessments can only be fair if every estimate of market value is as accurate as possible.
Is it necessary for an assessor to view the inside of my building?
- To make a proper assessment on a building, it is desirable that an assessor see the inside as well as the outside. A purchaser would not buy a building without looking inside. Similarly, to estimate market value, the assessor must conduct interior inspections of buildings. If the assessor is unable to inspect the interior, the assessment will be based on existing assessment data and buildings similar to the subject. Inspections are often necessary to obtain updated building information such as size, additions, layout, finish, quality and condition.
What if I refuse to let the assessor enter my building?
- To ensure an accurate assessment, it is to your advantage to allow the assessor inside your building when an inspection is requested. Provincial legislation allows the assessor to enter and inspect any building in the Town of Westlock for assessment purposes. Assessors will be able to provide appropriate identification.
Where Can I Find More Information?
- Complete details about property assessment can be found on the Alberta Municipal Affairs website. You can also contact the Town office at 780.349.4444.
Who is the Property Assessor?
- The Town of Westlock Property Assessor is:
Accurate Assessment Group Ltd.
171 Pembina Road
Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8H 2W8