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The Property Council of Australia welcomes the NSW Ombudsman’s investigation into the quality assurance and objections mechanisms employed by the NSW Valuer General in respect of land valuations in NSW.
The land valuation system is of key significance to our industry. The unimproved capital values issued by the Valuer General for 2.4 million properties state-wide are used to calculate land tax and local council rate liabilities. Property owners need to have confidence in this system.
The Ombudsman’s report, Improving the Quality of Land Valuations issued by the Valuer General, October 2005, identifies a number of quality assurance issues involving resourcing and scheduling which require urgent attention.
We concur with the Ombudsman’s finding that the mass valuation methodology employed in NSW is sound and able to predict valuations within a reasonable margin of error. We also believe the quality assurance mechanisms used by the Valuer General are in themselves sound, however, they have not been implemented adequately.
While the Valuer General states that the vast majority of the Ombudsman’s recommendations have either been or are being implemented, the Property Council believes the NSW Government should seek to ensure the following issues are addressed as a matter of priority:
Increased use of handcrafting – The Property Council supports the Valuer General’s extension of a pilot project to increase the use and frequency of handcrafting property values. The increased use of handcrafting property values in the Wollondilly-Wingecarribee pilot (which required contractors to handcraft a third of the district each year over a three year contract, including a detailed review of components and confirmation of benchmark properties) is credited with improving valuation data and processes. Significantly, the Ombudsman found the additional work required to perform this handcrafting did not add considerably to the cost of valuations. We understand this approach will be extended to contracts affecting 820,000 properties coming up for renewal.