Hundreds of homes from Saint John to Sussex have sold below their assessed value in 2013, according to Service New Brunswick.

The value of properties is assessed by the province and partly determines how much property tax is paid by the owner on an annual basis.

Home sales steady

Home sales in the Saint John area are almost identical to last year, but hundreds of properties have sold at below their assessed value (CBC)

One man who bought his home for $30,000 less than what the government said it was worth, thinks the province is using property taxes as a way to generate revenue in a soft economy.

"I think homeowners needs to draw attention to this," said Brent Duncan, who bought a home on Saint John's West Side last summer.

"They need to look at their assessment, look at what houses are going for, in their area, and then start asking questions," he said.

"And really, that's the only way it's going to change."

However, the number of homes selling below tax assessment levels doesn't indicate a slumping market, says Saint John realtor Scott Darling.

He says sales this year are almost identical to 2012 and the average home price has climbed to $181,000, up from $176,000 in 2012.

"Everybody in Saint John is still comparing to what we had in 2008, 2009, which were our best years ever," said Darling. "And so when you compare your best year ever, to a time that's slower, it feels like it's a lot slower."

Darling says those banner years in 2008 and 2009 pushed assessment higher and they haven't corrected. Darling says perhaps it's time they did.

"It's a good time for them to take a solid look at that and see what the market value truly is," he said.

Service New Brunswick says only 1.2 per cent of homeowners appealed their 2012-13 tax assessment. That represents 5,642 of the 460,236 properties in the province, which form a tax assessment base of $56.3 billion. Of that number, 247 property owners went on to appeal tax assessment to the assessment board.

Of those who sought a review of their assessment, between 50 and 60 per cent got a reduction at the first review stage. The average reduction was between 5 and 6 per cent.