Undervalued properties

2008-04-02 00:00

A correspondent in this newspaper yesterday wrote critically of the municipal valuation roll, citing the comparative value of similar properties in the same street. In the example he gave — of adjoining properties equal in size and extent — values differed markedly. He referred also to a luxury modern home valued at less than the cost of its site, and to another, with a separate cottage, valued at R900 000 less than a neighbour’s single dwelling.

His comment is that “the problem is not that the high valuations are necessarily wrong, but that if they are correct, the vast majority of properties are grossly undervalued” and he suggests that the result of this will be that high-value properties will carry a disproportionately high rates assessment. Owners of undervalued properties — who have been conspicuously, and understandably silent during the whole valuation furore — will, he says, be “getting away with murder”.

These are valid points. We all know, now, that the valuation exercise was poorly planned and executed and it’s hardly surprising that it came up with some glaring inaccuracies. In the year’s grace we’ve now been granted it is necessary for us all to find out, not only the valuation of our own property, but also those of others in our street or neighbourhood.

Armed with this information we’ll be able to assist in the straightening out of the inconsistencies. First, though, it’s essential that the criteria on which valuations are based be clearly defined and clearly adhered to, as they obviously haven’t been since the process began. Everything needs to be specific and nothing nebulous or left to the imagination. Only the application of strict criteria will eliminate present gross anomalies and prevent the introduction of new one

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