Property Assessment FAQ

Property Assessment FAQ

What is Property Assessment?
What is market value?
How is a market value assessment done?
How are the annual property taxes calculated on my home?
When will I receive my notice?
Why are the Assessment Notices and Tax Bills mailed separately?
What information can I obtain about my property assessment?
Did my assessment change from 2015 to 2016?
What is mass-appraisal?
How are assessments done on vacant land?
My house was built during the current taxation year. Will I receive an assessment notice?
How do I compare my assessment to assessments of similar homes in the City?
The factual data about my property is incorrect on the website. What is the process to have this data corrected?
What constitutes a finished basement?
How are condominiums assessed?
How is my Commercial property assessment calculated?
How are property taxes calculated on my Commercial property?

What is Property Assessment?
Property assessment is the estimated value of a property (land and building) utilized for municipal taxation purposes. The City of St. John's Assessment Division is responsible for the assessment of approximately 50,000 accounts to which property taxes apply. The 'Assessment Act 2006' is the legislative authority governing assessment and taxation in the City.

What is market value?
Market Value is the most probable price which would be paid in terms of money for a property for sale in the open market, with a reasonable time to find a purchaser, buying with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.

To ensure overall uniformity of application, the City's assessments are calculated on the basis of a property's market value as of a specific point in time, referred to as the 'base date'. The presently applicable 'base date' on which your assessment is calculated is Jan. 1, 2014. In other words, the market value of your property on that date is presently utilized to calculate your municipal taxes for 2017.

How is a market value assessment done?
Market value assessments are calculated by giving consideration to the three approaches to property valuation:

  1. Direct Sales Comparison Approach - an analysis is completed on all sales of comparable properties to the subject.
  2. Income Approach - a review of a rental property’s actual and potential income generation, as well as its operating expenses, are analyzed to help arrive at an estimate of value.
  3. Cost Approach - the replacement cost new of a property, less depreciation, plus the market value of the land, is calculated.

As noted, legislation directs that market value is to be determined as of the 'base date'. Market value is affected by the supply and demand in existence for specific types of properties within the City. In terms of the residential class, the following factors will have a bearing on the marketability of a property:

  • Size of house
  • Condition
  • Age
  • Type of construction
  • Lot size
  • Finished basement area
  • Neighborhood
  • Existence of out-buildings (garage, shed, etc.)

How are the annual property taxes calculated on my home?
For the taxation year 2017, residential property tax is calculated at the rate of 7.3 mils, or .0073 per cent of a property’s total assessment. A property with a total assessed value of $100,000 would be charged an annual property tax of $730, calculated as follows:

Assessed Value = $100,000
X Mil Rate = .0073 (7.3 Mils)
Annual Tax = $730

When will I receive my notice?
Your assessment notice applicable to the 2017 taxation year was mailed to you in September, 2016. If you felt that your assessment did not represent the market value of your property, you had the option to appeal your assessment to the City's 'Assessment Review Court'. The deadline for appealing the assessment is written on your Notice. The cost to appeal a Residential assessment is $60, while that of a Commercial assessment is $200. Appeal fees are refundable if the appeal is withdrawn not less than 10 days before the hearing date, or if the assessment is reduced by the Court as a result of the hearing.

It is strongly suggested that, if you have any concerns or questions about your assessment, you contact the City's Assessment Office at 709-576-8929 and an assessor will be available to discuss your valuation.

Why are the Assessment Notices and Tax Bills mailed separately?
As municipal taxation is based on the application of mil rates (tax rates) to a property assessment, it is important that the accuracy of any assessment valuation in question is determined before these rates are applied. The latest date each year for Council to determine the mil rates for an upcoming taxation year is Dec. 15. According to the 'Assessment Act 2006', assessment notices shall be mailed each year by Sept. 30 or a later date if approved by Council. Tax Bills are sent at different times during the year.

What information can I obtain about my property assessment?
Upon proof of identification, every property owner can obtain a summary of all items relative to the calculation of the assessment of his or her property. If available, these items include:

  • Plan of dwelling
  • Lot plan
  • List of all building features
  • List of sales of comparable properties

Furthermore, in conjunction with the individual property assessment, an assessor will explain the methodology and logic utilized to arrive at the final value estimate.

Did my assessment change from 2016 to 2017?
No. As per the Assessment Act 2006 legislation enacted in 2007, the City of St. John's is to apply a three year re-assessment cycle. The 'base date' or market valuation date which was applied for the present re-assessment was Jan. 1, 2014. There is a two year time lag between the 'base date' and initial 'effective date' in the re-assessment process.

What is mass-appraisal?
Mass-appraisal is the process of valuing many properties as at 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.

How are assessments done on vacant land?
Assessments of vacant land are calculated by utilization of the sales comparison approach. Sales of vacant land parcels of similar size, location, and quality, as that of the subject are analyzed to determine an assessment.

My house was built during the current taxation year. Will I receive an assessment notice?
Yes. According to Section 23 of the "Assessment Act 2006", it is the responsibility of the property owner to advise the City Clerk's office of the existence of a newly constructed home. Upon notification by the City Clerk to the Manager of Assessments, an assessment will be conducted on the subject property. The effective date for property taxation purposes will be the date of construction completion. An assessment notice is mailed to the property owner with a 'base date' assessment valuation noted. This 'base date' is the same 'market value' date used on all other existing City properties which have already been assessed.

If a property owner disagrees with the assessment, he or she may appeal the valuation within 30 days. The final date for appealing will be indicated on the assessment notice. The same rules apply as in the general annual assessment notice mail out process where an appeal fee of $60 is applicable. The fee is refundable if the appeal is withdrawn at least 10 days before the Court hearing date or the assessment is reduced by the Assessment Review Court.

How do I compare my assessment to assessments of similar homes in the City?
The City's website provides you with the ability to review the assessed value of each and every Residential, Commercial and Business property within the City. Click here.

The factual data about my property is incorrect on the website. What is the process to have this data corrected?
You may contact the City's Assessment office by phone at 709-576-8929, fax 709-576-8603 or email the Manager of Assessments using the link below.

What constitutes a finished basement?
Basement finish is an area in the basement or lower level of a home that includes a finished floor, walls and ceiling. Finishing materials typically consist of drywall or paneling on wood or steel studs for walls, drywall or ceiling tiles for ceiling, and cushion floor, floor tiles, or carpet on the floor.

How are condominiums assessed?
Residential condominiums are assessed by utilization of the sales comparison approach. Property characteristics (size, age, condition, etc.) and locational factors of condominium units that have sold are analyzed to determine their relevant application to individual units throughout the City. This information is then applied to the various condominium projects to calculate individual unit assessments.

How is my Commercial property assessment calculated?

Commercial property assessments in the City of St. John's are calculated on the basis of the correlation of the three approaches to value; where appropriate.

  1. Cost Approach - Reproduction cost new of the buildings, less depreciation, plus the market value of the land.
  2. Market Approach - Analysis of sales of comparable properties which have taken place in the market, and application of this data to the subject property.
  3. Income Approach - Capitalization of the net operating income of an income producing (rental) property, through the analysis of vacancy, rents, expenses and capitalization rates.

After having determined the values arrived by application of each approach, the Assessor may correlate all of these approaches in the determination of the final value estimate. Different weight may be given to each approach, depending on the degree of applicability on the basis of the type of property and information available.

How are property taxes calculated on my Commercial property?
For the taxation year 2016, the commercial property tax mil rate is 24.7 or 2.47 per cent. For example, the owner of a commercial property with a total assessed value of $500,000 would be charged an annual property tax of $12,350 calculated as follows:

Assessed Value = $500,000
X Mil Rate = 2.47 (24.7 Mils)
Annual Tax = $12,350

If you have any questions about the foregoing information or you have any other property assessment related questions, you can contact the City's Assessment Office at:

Phone: 709-576-8929
Fax: 709-576-8603
Email: assessment@stjohns.ca