Background

GRAND FORKS VOLUNTARY LAND ACQUISITION PROGRAM

Introduction

Keystone Inc, an established provider of real estate consulting and valuation services, has been contracted to provide Land Acquisition Services to the City of Grand Forks. The Program is supported by Infrastructure Canada, the Province of British Columbia, and the City of Grand Forks.

The scope of services being provided was the subject of a competitive selection process. The City of Grand Forks issued a Request For Proposals in October 2019 and Keystone submitted a comprehensive and successful response. The services being provided include:

  • Program design services
  • Real estate valuation services
  • Program implementation services

The Acquisition Team is made up of a variety of professional disciplines including real estate specialists, appraisers, accountants, lawyers, construction specialists, architects, support staff and a Project Director. The Team is accountable to and works closely with the City’s senior staff who are provided regular reports on the Program progress and outcomes.

 

Process Details

Select a step to expand more detailed information about the process.

A voluntary Land Acquisition Program is a mechanism for government to acquire land in support of public uses such as park development, conservation efforts and infrastructure purposes. The purpose of this Land Acquisition Program is to acquire land necessary for future flood mitigation in the Grand Forks and Boundary region.

The program approved by the City of Grand Forks was custom designed to realize the highest voluntary take-up into the Program. The flood events of 2018 created unique and complex problems that have impacted properties and owners in a variety of ways creating unique circumstances for each of the 140 properties being considered in the Program. The Acquisition Team have designed a variety of processes which are intended to identify these issues and bring additional resources to each case to facilitate and optimise each property owner’s pathway through the Program.

The Program Chart above illustrates the implementation pathway from Owner Intake to Acquisition. It is important to note that whilst each file will move through the Program in a linear and sequential order, because of the large number of files, the sequencing steps assume files grouped together moving at different speeds that can accommodate everyone’s needs and preferences.

The key piece of every acquisition program is the price offered for each property. For all programs the baseline is determined through an assessment of Fair Market Value (FMV) based upon an established process. In this Program each of the properties will be appraised in conformity to the standards of the Appraisal Institute of Canada. In addition to the appraised value, the City of Grand Forks is offering to pay supplementary amounts as additional compensation based upon the recognition that the loss of a home or property results in a variety of disturbance damages. The formula for Acquisition Price is included below:

 

Acquisition Price (Offer)        =         Fair Market Value(FMV) + Additional Compensation

 

The additional compensation formula has been approved for single family residential homes:

Additional Compensation =     The greater of $20,000

Or

The sum of:

      • Disturbance Allowance:           FMV x 5%
      • Professional Fee Allowance:   $4,000
      • Moving Cost Allowance:          $1,000 – $5,000
      • Conveyance Allowance:          $1,400
      • Property Transfer Tax:            1-2% of FMV
      • Interest Penalty Allowance:     Fact based
      • Discretionary Allowance:         FMV x 7.5%

 

The additional compensation formula has also been approved for vacant parcels:

Additional Compensation =     The greater of $5,000

Or

The sum of:

  • Professional Fee Allowance:   $2,000
  • Conveyance Allowance:          $1,200
  • Property Transfer Tax:            1-2% of FMV
  • Interest Penalty Allowance:     Fact based
  • Discretionary Allowance:         FMV x 5%

 

The Land Acquisition Team will meet individually with property owner(s) either in person or by telephone. At this meeting the owner will be given assistance to complete the Owner Intake Questionnaire which provides valuable insight that is used to improve the Acquisition Team’s understanding of the property owner’s position and apply the Acquisition Program in the most effective way. This meeting will also be an opportunity for property owners to discuss the Program with someone from the Acquisition Team who will answer any questions.  The meetings are underway and you will be contacted but please feel free to contact us to schedule your Intake Meeting.

 

The appraisal process is the method used to determine the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property. The appraisal process commenced immediately after the Program announcement in December 2019, starting with those owners who were identified by the City as hardship files. The Team has completed +/- 70 property inspections to date and the balance are anticipated to be inspected by the end of March/April before the risk of further spring flooding.

The appraiser and support staff collect relevant and available information on the property from a variety of sources including on-line data published by the government and private sources. This information can include tax records, former listings and BC Assessment records. The next step is to inspect the property and record a variety of property information in relation to the size, condition and configuration. It is very helpful for the appraiser to understand the various building components such as flooring, wall coverings, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, quality of kitchen and mechanical components. If there are other improvements such as finished basements, garages, sheds, landscaping, etc., these will also be included.

The scope and scale of this current assignment raises several unique challenges for the appraisers. Many homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Others that were impacted less still sustained substantial damage and a few, little or no damage at all. Keystone has included building contractors and cost specialists to consider the impact of flood damage.

Please note that the appraiser’s opinion of value is subject to the effective date of the report. This is typically the date of the inspection of the property. It is the professional responsibility of the appraiser to update and amend the opinion of value if there is a change in circumstance that might have an impact on value, such as a change in the condition of the property.

The intake process provides us with a better understanding of the specific property and property owner needs, and once the property owner has the opportunity for input, the files are directed towards the right resources and moved as quickly as either the process allows or the owner prefers. The types of files include:

  • Standard File: These are files which the properties and owners are in the position to move quickly through the Program and do not need additional resources to assist them.

 

  • Hardship File: The City has provided a list of files that due to individual hardship circumstances will be expedited. If you are experiencing hardship and have not been contacted to date, please reach out to us.

 

  • Technical File: A number of properties and owner situations will require additional resources. These files include negative equity properties, disputed ownership and outstanding insurance claims.

 

  • At Risk File: Property owners who may struggle with understanding the Program and the ability to make an informed choice will have additional resources and protections provided.

The individual offers will be calculated using the approved Acquisition Program pricing formula. The offer will be calculated on a standardized form, reviewed by the Senior Appraiser, reviewed by the Project Director, and then submitted for approval to the City.  The approved offer will then be sent to the property owner through e-mail or standard mail.

The offer will include:

  • Offer letter indicating offer price.
  • The narrative appraisal report used to determine the FMV.
  • A summary of the additional compensation calculation.

 

The Project Director will be available to discuss the offer and explain the methodology at arriving at the price. He will also explain the acquisition process and form of purchase contract and answer the owner’s questions and concerns. This is a voluntary program and the property owner is free to decide their choice:

Accept – If the offer is accepted, the sale and purchase agreement will be completed and conveyed in accordance with the terms of sale.

Appeal – If the owner wishes to dispute the calculations and/or opinion of value, they will be asked to do so in writing within 30 days from the time the offer is presented. An appeal process is currently being designed.

Reject – The property owner may reject the offer.

Owners who accept the offer will be provided a sale and purchase agreement and the purchase will be completed in accordance with the terms of sale.

Deferred Closing – A form of contract that considers a deferred closing but provides access to the sale proceeds is being prepared. This would allow property owners access to their funds but also allow them to stay in the property until it is needed by the City for flood mitigation engineering works, likely in the spring of 2021 (subject to conditions).

 

Local conveyance support will be provided so that the property owners can more readily and conveniently access the closing process. The cost of this service will be covered by the Program.

 

If the owner wishes to dispute the calculations and/or opinion of value, they will be asked to do so in writing within 30 days from the time the offer is presented. Appeals will be expected to be fact based and supported, as necessary, by evidence. Any appeal to the opinion of Fair Market Value must be supported by a professional appraisal report that meets Appraisal Institute of Canada standards.

Disputed amounts will go to a review committee made up of an independent panel operating under a Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct. The review panel will have the authority to recommend an adjustment to the acquisition price and any revised offers will be submitted to the City for approval. 

If the owner rejects the appealed offer, the offer will be set aside, and the property owner will be considered Out of the Program. The owner may consider re-entry into the Voluntary Program at a later date but no later than November 30, 2020.

The Program Implementation Schedule follows a prescribed stepped pathway for individual files, which we anticipate moving at different speeds depending upon owner needs, preferences, and with appropriate access to the resources they will need to arrive at a successful conclusion. The Land Acquisition Team anticipates the Land Acquisition Program to be substantially complete by September 2020.

The first step for property owners in the acquisition area is to contact Keystone to schedule an Owner Intake Meeting and a property inspection by the appraisal team. Property owners can expect an offer 8-10 weeks from the date of their property inspection. If the offer is accepted, the purchase and sale contract will be signed, and the property will be conveyed. We estimate this process to take an additional 6-8 weeks. The first wave of offers will be delivered in February and based upon current participation in the Program we expect to deliver 70 – 80 offers by the end of March.

IN KIND PROGRAM

 

In-Kind support refers to resources or contributions provided other than money. The in-kind assistance considers several opportunities including vacant lots, house moving support and attainable housing options as well a number of other proposals.

The In-Kind Program remains conceptual and requires detailed feasibility analysis which is currently being organised. During the Program the Acquisition Team will be collecting data to measure community support but it will take several months to complete the feasibility analysis. During that process the Team is committed to communicate the work that is being carried out.

PUBLIC INFORMATION MEETINGS

 

The Acquisition team is conducting a series of workshops and clinics with property owners in the land acquisition area.

Workshops – are intended to provide property owners with information and input on specific topics that relate to the Program.

Clinics – are weekly drop-in sessions that provide an opportunity for owners to meet with the Project Director regarding any questions or concerns about the Land Acquisition Program.

If you are unsure whether your home will be included in the assignment, please call us and we will confirm whether your property is on the list.

Please Contact us for more information or to schedule a meeting.

 

Email:
grandforks@keystoneappraisals.ca

Phone:
250 442 0024

We are located at:
#4 – 7375 2nd St, Grand Forks

Website:
www.keystoneappraisals.ca