British Columbia

B.C. Assessment warns 67,000 homeowners of big increases

Thousands of homeowners across the province have been warned their property values will grow at a rate higher than the provincial average.

Thousands of homeowners across the province warned property values will grow higher than B.C. average

Condo sales in 2017 drove assessments for many strata properties above the provincial average. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Thousands of B.C.homeowners have been given a heads-up that their property assessments will rise at rates above the provincial norm come 2018.

B.C. Assessment has issued 67,000 notices to homeowners throughout the province whose homes will see an above-average increase in value. Some homes are set to increase by 30 per cent or more.

The new assessments indicate a "strong market," one that's largely been driven by a surge of condo and townhome sales in 2017, says a release from B.C. Assessment.

"The majority of letters are being sent to residential strata properties, because this is the market that's been most robust over last year's assessment," said Tina Ireland, an assessor with B.C. Assessment.

The new valuations, which are used to determine 2018 property taxes, were taken based on market values around July 1, 2017.

Condos surge; detached homes stable

B.C. Assessment issued 25,000 warnings in the Vancouver area, with another 18,000 landing in Surrey.

Strata assessments are expected to rise within the ten to 30 per cent range across Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

Detached single family homes will remain relatively stable, according to Ireland.

"In the Lower Mainland, the single family dwelling market — there's been quite nominal changes, zero to five per cent in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and the North Shore," said Ireland.

However, detached home assessments are expected to rise between ten to 20 per cent in the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan, and Vancouver Island.

UBC real estate professor Tom Davidoff says condo sales have surged as people get priced out of the detached home market. (CBC )

Expect property-tax hikes

University of British Columbia professor and economist Tom Davidoff says interest in the condo market has risen substantially over the last year as many buyers come to terms with not being able to afford a detached home.

"There seems to be a really strong appetite for really small units around the region," said Davidoff. "There had to be some catch up because anyone thinking about making a living in Vancouver and trying to buy a place to live had to think either condo or townhome."

While many home owners should be happy to see the value of their investment increasing, says Davidoff, "the bad news is your property taxes also rise."

Davidoff says tax increases aren't directly correlated to increases in your property assessment; however, property owners whose assessments have risen at a higher rate than the provincial average can expect an overall increase in their property taxes.

Appealing a new assessment

The new assessments will be mailed out directly in early January, 2018. Much of the information will be made public on B.C. Assessment's website on Jan. 2.

Homeowners who disagree with the new assessment of their homes are encouraged to appeal the valuation.

"Only file a case if it has merit. Don't file a case if you're ticked off about your property tax bill," said Paul Sullivan,  a property tax agent with Burgess Cawley Sullivan & Associates Ltd.

Sullivan advises homeowners to compare their assessments to similar units in their neighbourhood via B.C. Assessment's online data. If there appears to be a discrepancy, they can file an appeal online up until Jan. 31.

"If you can dispute value with evidence, go for it. If not, don't waste people's time."