Transparent valuation system essential to avoid Local Property Tax ‘price fixing’

Fine Gael Dublin North TD, Alan Farrell, has voiced concerns that property owners could be exploited by estate agents or pressurised by fellow home owners as they attempt to value their homes for the new local property tax.

“I am concerned that if there is not a straightforward and transparent system of valuation in place, homeowners may be subjected to pressure by residents on the same street or estate who may get together to deliberately agree to undervalue their homes.

“I have been made aware of discussions surrounding ‘price fixing’ taking place and I find this to be extremely worrying. No individual should be put in a position where they feel obliged to undervalue their property, or mislead the Revenue Commissioners.

“I am equally concerned that property owners could be open to manipulation if they opt to rely on auctioneers or estate agents to value their property. Typically, estate agents will value a property for free. But considering a national property tax regime is being implemented for the first time, I suspect they may start to charge for the service.

“Revenue is due to issue detailed guidelines to property owners on how they should go about valuing their homes. We need to ensure that these guidelines are both easy to follow and transparent. It should be set up with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind, rather than the valuer.

“As people try to plan for the financial year ahead, it is likely many will try to value their homes before the Revenue guidelines are issued. In this case people are being advised to check out the property price register for a guide on the prices being achieved in their area. But this is problematic in areas when property sales remain very infrequent.

“The property market has shown clear signs of recovery in Dublin over the past year. But if people choose to deliberately undervalue their homes, in a bid to pay less property tax, this recovery will be undermined.

“I am calling on the professional bodies to provide assurances that they will not engage in greedy practices to the detriment of homeowners. However, the onus is on the Revenue Commissioners to ensure they put a very straightforward set of recommendations in place, to ensure homeowners will be able to value their own home with certainty.”