Finding out is easier (and cheaper) than you might think.
Ever wondered if your neighbour’s house is worth more than yours? Curious about what the house across the street fetched when it last went up for sale? Wonder no more.
You might be surprised to hear that you likely have easy access to not just the last sale price and assessment value for your house, but for any other house you’re curious about. You can even look up how many bedrooms and bathrooms your boss has. How much information is available varies depending on the jurisdiction, but in general, residents of large metropolitan areas — and residents anywhere in Ontario — have access to municipal databases that reveal a wealth of historic sale prices and current assessment values. (You can find a full list of municipal property database websites at the bottom of this article.)
Usually the searches are free, but some jurisdictions charge a fee (around $15) to access the service. You simply log on using your roll number and your password — information found on your municipal property assessment notice.
In Toronto, for example, homeowners can go to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) website and scroll over an interactive map, which provides information on 200 nearby properties. You can get more detailed information on up to 24 of them, such as the current assessed value, the last sale price, the year the home was built, square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
The information is provided to ensure transparency in the property assessment process. “It gives homeowners tools to gauge their assessment and determine the accuracy of their home’s value,” says MPAC’s Carmelo Lipsi. So if after checking out your neighbours, you think your home has been over-assessed, you may decide to request an appeal. Who knows? A little curiosity could pay off with a much lower tax bill.
|Municipal Property Database Websites by Province|
|Province / Territory||Note|
|Alberta||Lethbridge residents are required to fill out a form for property information requests.|
|B.C.||The ability to search for sold properties is only available from January 1 to March 15, each year. Properties will be listed if sold between January 1 and October 31 of the previous year.|
|Nfld. & Labrador|
|Quebec||Only available in French.|
|Saskatchewan||High-speed connection gives users the option to search for properties using both an interactive map and the text search feature.|
Originally published in MoneySense Magazine November 2010