Is the assessed value of my property accurate?

Seldom does the assessed value of a property accurately reflect the actual market value. The assessment information is the product provided to local governments and other taxing authorities containing all of the information on the individual assessments, including classification and value, found within that jurisdiction. Assessment staff rarely visit a property. They rely on information often found in property files at municipalities - building permits being the primary document - to stay up to date on improvements to a property that may impact value. Otherwise assessments usually follow the trend of what's happening broadly in the local market. For an accurate valuation, contact an appraiser, who will look at recent sales and adjust for differences between your property and them (i.e. single vs double garage, number of bedrooms). Even more accurate is a detailed evaluation by a Realtor, called a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which will factor in current listings of similar properties. Sales reflect what has happened in the market, a CMA reflects what's happening.

I want to buy a strata unit. How do I get documents from the strata?

In the South Okanagan, strata information isn't typically available to buyers until an offer is accepted. Receiving that information will be a condition in the offer, in favour of the buyer approving the documents. The following, from a column in February 2020 by Tony Gioventu, executive director of Condominium HomeOwners Association, goes into detail about what a buyer should be looking for in those documents: 

FORM B: A Form B Information Certificate discloses general information about the strata corporation including judgments against the corporation in the courts or tribunals, the number of rentals, parking space and storage locker designations and allocations, current balance in the contingency reserve fund, and must include a copy of the most recent depreciation report.

DEPRECIATION REPORT: The depreciation report is valuable in reviewing future major maintenance and renewal cycles. It will estimate when common components such as roofing, exterior cladding, doors and windows, elevators, plumbing systems are due for replacement and the estimated costs. This will give you an opportunity to compare the balances in the contingency fund with future demands on funds by the corporation.

MINUTES, BYLAWS, INSURANCE: Documents such as the annual budget, copies of the bylaws, minutes of meetings, any other types of engineering reports and the annual insurance policy must be retained by the strata corporation and are only available on request of an owner or an owner's Realtor. When you obtain a copy of the insurance policy, review the deductible amounts for water escape and other types of claims. Because, in the event as an owner there is a claim from your strata lot where you are deemed to be responsible, the strata corporation is entitled to proceed to the courts or the tribunal to collect the deductible amount. If the deductible is $50,000 or $100,000 you could be responsible for that amount.

To protect your personal liability against claims or the risk of a deductible, it is vital owners purchase homeowner condominium insurance, which your mortgage lender will require. Bring a copy of the strata corporation policy to your home insurer and they will assist you in understanding the deductible rates and how they are best covered.

It may also be valuable to review the date the policy is renewed. In these times of a restricted insurance market, a renewal in the next month may result in dramatic changes of the policy depending on the claims history, age, and risks of the strata corporation.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of Condominium HomeOwners Association To offer a question for consideration write: CHOA, Suite 200-65 Richmond St., New Westminster, B.C., V3L 595, email: