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Monday Jan 28, 2013

'Make sure your revised property valuation is correct'

Cape Town home owners must check their new municipal property valuations carefully to ensure they won't be charged excessive property rates going forward.

The new valuations are being finalised in January and will be sent out in February. Objections to the given valuations can be made, but there is only a short time in which to do so.

"The problem with municipal valuations is that they are calculated on a mass scale, using a computer-assisted mass appraisal (Cama) system. No two properties are the same, so it stands to reason that these calculations cannot be entirely accurate," says Francois Venter, director of Jawitz Properties.

The document containing the new municipal valuations is known as the General Valuation Roll (GV2012), and will be certified this month. New property valuations will be sent to home owners i n February, including new property rates effective from July 2013.

Home owners will be able to contest their given valuations and property rates between March 1 and April 30.

Venter says it is not possible to value a property without seeing it and therefore encourages Cape Town home owners to challenge their given municipal valuations.

"A property could have a swimming pool, or high-end fittings, or extra rooms built on, or, on the flip side, could be poorly maintained. Homes in the same area can be completely different in size and layout, but even the condition of two similar properties can be quite different, so each homeowner should be paying a personalised rate which will certainly be different to the rates determined by council's blanket approach."

Further, Venter advises home owners to keep in mind that property prices in real terms have not increased by much since 2009 when the last valuations were done. The city council bases its valuations on current market value, although property valuations for this year were concluded on July 1, 2012.

Also, the council is naturally inclined to increase property rates to cover increasing expenses. Rates constitute about 24 percent of the City of Cape Town's income used for the maintenance and building of roads, libraries, parks, clinics and other facilities that benefit all Capetonians.

"There is no guarantee that the city will accept a home owner's objection, but it is definitely worthwhile checking that the valuation is accurate before it is too late," Venter says.

"Failing to respond will mean that the given municipal valuation won't change, and for the next four years the allocated property rates will have to be paid."

Venter advises home owners to get two opinions from reputable estate agents.

This service should be free of charge.

For more information on the GV2012 project and process, visit the site of GeneralValuation2012.aspx.

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