Watch your mailboxes, residents of Fort Saskatchewan, the city has some questions for you.
As part of an effort to collect updated data on local home values, the city will be mailing requests for information to about one fifth of local property owners this spring. The surveys will ask homeowners to answer questions about basement finishes, fireplaces, flooring and cabinet renovations and other aspects of interior design that can affect property value.
The city uses this kind of information, among other factors, when assessing home values for property tax purposes.
The assessment surveys were sent out for the first time last year to 2100 residential property owners in parts of Westpark, Pineview and Southfort. This year a new batch of homeowners will receive the questionnaires, with the option of filling them out online, mailing them in or dropping them off at city hall.
The questionnaires are a newer way of collecting the same property data the city has always required.
“In previous years we might have obtained the same type of information through site inspections, through blueprints, through permitting information, through door to door and leaving a callback on the door. But we didn't always get a good response,” Mike Krim, a consultant with the city said.
Last year 50 per cent of targeted homeowners completed their surveys, a response rate Krim said was “excellent” for a data collection method the city had never tried before.
“It could be better,” he added. “And we are going to strive to make it better.”
The 1000 homeowners who didn’t complete their surveys last year can expect to see reminder letters in the mail sometime in the next month.
Under the municipal government act, cities have the authority to request property information from homeowners for assessment purposes.
“Property owners are obligated to provide that information when it's requested,” Krim said. “Not everybody does and we realize that. Not everybody is comfortable with it. But it is certainly encouraged to ensure that you have a fair assessment done on your property.”
The surveys will be sent on a rotational basis to about 20 percent of homes each year, meaning homeowners can expect to receive a survey about once every five years.