The first month of 2017 has proven more interesting than expected. In fact, the New Year’s Eve hangover hadn’t even worn off before BC Assessment published its 2017 property value data online, spiking concern amongst property owners who discovered their homes were assessed at a much higher rate than the previous year. But not everyone believes the current assessment is an accurate reflection of their property’s worth. Proving that perhaps Greater Vancouver home assessments are not so great after all.
PROPERTY VALUES LEAP INTO NEW YEAR
Just days into the new year, Business In Vancouver reported that home assessments across Greater Vancouver had soared. Reflecting the market value of properties as of July 2016, the assessment reported the total value of property within the GVA jumped an altitude-breaking 29.7%.
Jason Grant, as assessor who works with BC Assessment announced that owners of single-family homes in Vancouver, North and West Vancouver, as well as Burnaby, Tri-Cities, New Westminster and Squamish could expect increases of anywhere from 30-50%. In Burnaby alone, single-family homes in the Buckingham area rose 46%, as did homes in Lynn Valley. And while low and high-rises on the west and east sides of the city were lower, the numbers remain hugely significant at between 20% to 41%. But not everyone is so sure these assessments are accurate.
A recent article published by The Vancouver Sun included information on how to dispute your property assessment if you think it’s inaccurate. Jason Grant (of aforementioned assessment fame) also stated that it’s important to ask yourself if this [price] is “a reasonable expectation for what I could have sold my property for [in July, 2016].” It needs to reflect the value of the property, but also take into account changes in land value, rezoning, and market changes.
It’s exactly these types of changes that have homeowners worried too, as they won’t be factored into the equation until 2018. And for those who plan on staying in their homes, the bad news is that each municipality uses these assessments to create property-tax rates. This can have two results. One being a general tax increase, but for those whose assessments rose by more than the average, they can expect an even more significant increase lurking around the corner.
B.C.’S PROPERTY ASSESSMENT CHALLENGED BY MANY
Among those who do not support the current assessments, one of the biggest concerns is that it does not take factors like net worth into account. For someone who bought their property long ago, or are, say, a senior on a fixed income, the tax does not reflect their financial reality. If the taxes become too high and the homeowner cannot keep up, they could be forced to sell their home. But go where? The assessment as it stands today does not shield those who are just getting by from the possibility of losing their own home to soaring property taxes.
This isn’t the only complaint either. The assessment was made during July of 2016, which was a peak in the B.C. real estate market. It also happens to be right before the new foreign buyer tax was announced by Christy Clark.
BC Assessment on the other hand, doesn’t agree. Their side of the story is that increased values don’t promise a property tax increase. Grant stated that cities must adjust their tax rates downwards to collect enough funds to cover operating budgets and no more. But with increases this considerable, even the homeowner grant program could be in hot water–making it more difficult to offset the higher taxes.
The increased assessments did lead to a slight increase in the home owner grant threshold from $1.2 million to $1.6 million. Those whose primary residents are assessed under $1.2 million are eligible for a $570 grant, designed to ease the property owner’s tax burden. Unfortunately, even with the increase, many are unable to use this grant.
HE OR SHE WHO ASKS, RECEIVES. (MAYBE.)
If you’re a property owner with questions about your assessment, you can go online here to B.C. Assessments site. This is an easy way to gauge how your assessment measures up to comparable properties in your neighbourhood based on value. The deadline to appeal your assessment is January 31st, 2017.