For 30 years, Canadian Valuation Group (CVG) has helped home and business owners reduce their property taxes by handling appeals and complaints on property assessments. What started out as a small local Edmonton company, CVG now handles appeals throughout Western Canada.
The company was co-founded in 1991 by Peter Smith.
“At that time my business partner, Tom Janzen, and I were real estate appraisers,” says Peter, “but we saw a real need – a market niche. That was the motivation to focus on this specific part of property taxation.
When CVG launched, the company focused on helping property owners running multi-family buildings. Peter and Tom quickly realized that there was a need for their services on every type of property, from residential homes to industrial warehouses. But, as Peter describes, “There were no training courses or mandatory guidebooks. We had to learn on the go.”
Peter’s son, Gary Smith, President, joined CVG after enjoying a successful career in nursing and health care administration. “I still enjoy nursing and helped with the COVID response, but now nursing is the hobby and CVG is the full-time job. Both career paths allow me to do what I love best – helping people,” he says.
Peter continues, “Clients want to pay a fair share – and ensure that they are not overpaying in property taxes. That’s our job.”
It’s not an easy job. The City uses a math-based appraisal system that Peter and Gary call “95 per cent accurate.” The five per cent, however, is what doesn’t fit into a computerized algorithm, resulting in an appraisal that requires additional review.
“There are a lot of checkpoints that a property owner needs to meet and if you miss any step in the process, the appeal does not continue on,” Gary explains. “It is not uncommon for a property owner to call and say, ‘please help, I’m in over my head.’ It is truly a difficult process to navigate.”
Peter and Gary also note that the process of appealing and reassessing has changed over the years. In the early days it was an easier and free process. Now it involves a great deal of complex paperwork and costs $650 for non-residential properties. If the forms are not filled out correctly the fee is not refunded, and the appeal does not continue. CVG ensures the process meets all the checkpoints, relieving the property owner of shouldering this burden alone.
CVG handles cases across Western Canada and is proud to offer a very boutique, hands-on local service. Gary notes, “The team has more than 300 years of collective experience and not a lot of turnover. The strong family aspect is part of our values and culture.”
Peter adds, “We still have clients that have been with us since 1991. When we get a call from a client, they know that the person on the phone is going to be with them from start to end. That is what we strive to do. It is these relationships that have been fostered that have allowed CVG 30 years of success.”
Between 2016 and 2017, CVG won a case that resulted in the biggest decrease of an assessment in the City’s history. The case also sparked a change in legislation.
Gary and Peter conclude, “Know that appeals have to be filed in January through March when you get your assessment notice. When you get your tax bill, it is too late.”
CVG enjoys great relationships with assessors across Western Canada, knowing that all involved are focused on helping property owners receive a fair assessment. The company looks forward to continuing to grow as a trusted and helpful service for clients. CVG passed $5 billion in real estate valuations in 2016 and is on track to hit $8 to $10 billion by 2024.