Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Revenues Property Evaulations

Its been a while since I've posted anything as life has been very quiet because of college, However I just had to get up on my high horse about Revenues new Local Property Tax tool and property evaulations

The Tool
First of all I want to divorce the tool from the content and say that it is great to see them using maps and visualization to get their message across. This sort of thing has been common in the mash up community for some time; overlaying statistics or information on a searchable map. I would question their choice of colours as it makes it very difficult to easily associate a particular hue with its corresponding band, but there is an option to click on a zone and get the relevant information.

The Content
I really am jumping on the bandwagon with the criticism of the valuation process but when I look at the area I grew up in it seems to have a blanket band of €350,000, which is actually Boom prices, not the reality we have 5 years on.
With resources like the property price register (which is a publicly available legal record of the price a house is transacted at over the last 3 years) I'm surprised that they didn't use this information to get a better sense of likely values. In addition there is a wide degree of variation within the dwelling types.

From a quick check on the PPR I see prices of closer to the €250,000 mark being transacted in the recent past. I also notice that the bound seems to defined by the voting district, which to my mind doesn't adequately describe or cluster similar properties together. I suspect if this was done we would wind up with many more, smaller zones.

What could be done to improve the valuations.
Given that we know the closing prices on recently transacted properties and there should be some record somewhere (land commission, planning permission, county council) of each property. This could be cross referenced with some key variables of property type like number of rooms, stories, Square footage to construct a more granular model of the accommodation stock. A clustering algorithm could break down areas into smaller more similar subgroups, which would make valuations more relevant.

What homeowners can do to argue their case
If your house was transacted in the last 2-3 years then you have a very strong basis on which to argue your band, unless you feel that there has been some serious negative equity.
For others the most obvious thing is to look at the property price register over the last 3 years and spot properties that are nearby. It would also be helpful to work out how those houses are the similar or different to your own.
In addition, checking out the prices on DAFT for nearby properties will also help you work out a fairer market price.
There seems to be significant scope for people to argue the valuation of the revenue commissioners  but this also means a lot of work for the commissioners to investigate and respond.
Hopefully they will publish an updated set of valuations before next year so that we can see a more realistic picture of property price declines.