Tater’s Takes- Too Much Snow

December 9th, 2010 by Potato

It’s been a hell of a few weeks. Thesis progress has been exceptionally slow. Diet has been downright terrible for similar reasons. The snow is ridiculous here: something like 4′ has fallen since Sunday. The height of the snow on the lawn isn’t quite that high, as it’s settled and compacted, but I’m calling it 4′ as I measured 3′ of snow after the first day and a half of solid snowfall, and had to clear another foot or so after shovelling that away. And now to top it all off I’m sick. I think I’ll cry if I end up writing better while hopped up on cold medicine.

After the first 24 hours of snowfall, and halfway through the third round of shovelling:

A crazy amount of snow, here it is from the front. This was taken with still another night's worth of snow to fall.

Then, against all reason and goodness in the universe, it continued to snow all through the following day:

We got as much snow in the last three days as we got all last winter. About 4' total, though the snow compacted and settled so the snowbanks are only about 3' high.

And while the worst of it is over, it’s not completely over yet. It’s going to snow at least a little (up to a few inches) for each of the next 5 days, according to the forecast.

First up in the links, the 4th edition of the Canadian Real Estate Blog Carnival. As an update to my post in that, Wayfare tells me that the landlord has reimbursed us for most of the materials cost of the work we did (I believe everything we had receipts for).

Nova Scotia proposes mandatory organ donation. I tend to agree that the default should be “donor”, but it’s an ethical minefield for a number of reasons.

Another person (Prem Watsa this time) starting to question how far Chinese demand can take commodity prices.

A hilarious episode of BNN’s Market Call Tonight last night, as a real estate broker called in to rant about why rates can’t go up for 10-15 years. His logic is that a rate increase would cause a real estate crash, so it can’t happen. That reminds me of some other backward-thinking, such as the Globe article some time back that said Toronto rents were going to go through the roof in the next few years, because otherwise investors buying condos at today’s prices couldn’t make a profit. I find it hard to believe that some people are so wedded to the real estate only goes up meme that it becomes totally tautological as they use it as a justification for other calls… but there we have it.

Ellen Roseman reports on a case of a real estate agent abusing the buyer’s agreement.

I already had a quick note on the December TFSA strategy, but CC also has one for you.

David at Toronto Realty Blog points to an article about questionable spending at MPAC. He then comments on how wildly variant the MPAC assessments are relative to actual sale values in Toronto. I then point out that getting the absolute valuation of properties isn’t important to MPAC, since it’s only the relative valuation that matters (though perhaps it is fair to poke them for playing their tax-payer funded Wiis since they don’t do a great job there, either). The city doesn’t collect more tax when property values go up. Instead, the tax rate is adjusted so that their total revenue figure comes out: they basically take the total budget, divide it by the sum of all property values (assessments), and that gives them the tax rate for the year. The MPAC assessment is just for determining relative taxation. You can check that by looking up what the property tax rates were over the past few years. The tax rate actually went down from 2005-2006, and 2008-2009-2010. Under each of those boxes for the year is an example calculation, where you see that despite the changing tax rates and property values, the total tax grab goes up fairly consistently by about 2-3%/yr, which is I’d wager about what the typical Torontonian has experienced. When I am finally redeemed and property values do turn around… property taxes won’t. The mill rate will just be adjusted up to compensate for the lower assessed values so that the take remains the same.

Indeed, there’s a good reason for MPAC to consistently under-assess: there’s a cost of dealing with challenges. People who believe that the assessment should have some relation to the actual sale price will think that they’re getting a steal when the assessed value is below recent comparable sales, and not appeal the assessment when it comes in low. However, I don’t want to leave off with the impression that MPAC is doing all right — though they only need to get the relative valuations right, there are far too many stories out there about how they’re not doing even that much. And indeed, checking up on whether the relative assessments are correct would be easier if the absolute measures were at least close.

6 Responses to “Tater’s Takes- Too Much Snow”

  1. Netbug Says:

    I think it’s actually spelled “Redonkulus”.

  2. wayfare Says:

    I think it’s “Redonkulous” :D

  3. Potato Says:

    However it’s spelled, it’s too much goddamned snow!

  4. Canadian Real Estate Blog Carnival | Landlord Rescue Says:

    […] Next Potato, who is completely sick and tired of snow (with pictures) and who has drunk large bottles of Nyquil due to what seems to be a serious case of possible pneumonia or even tuberculosis wrote about how his landlord reimbursed most of all his expenses for house maintenance. The best part is the links in that post. An expose about buyer’s agents, a serious trouncing of MPAC and more. Be cheery Potato… spring is only 4 months away. […]

  5. Rachelle Says:

    Yo! Potato Cheer the hell up! You won a prize in my blog contest :) go check out the what you won


  6. Potato Says:

    Hurray! :)