B.C. homeowners should be aware that B.C. Assessment has sent out almost 70,000 warning letters regarding outsized increases in 2018 property assessments. The hard-copy assessments will be issued in the first week of January 2018. If you registered to receive the document electronically, you will get it by email just after midnight on December 31. What is the significance of these letters?
First, it is important to look at how this number compares to the norm. In 2016, 82,000 advance notification letters were distributed; the past few years have seen a dramatically higher number of letters sent out than in the past, due to the amounts of activity in the real estate markets. In 2015, 37,000 letters were sent, and in 2014, 24,000 were sent. This gives us an idea of where the market is headed.
Second, condos are the most affected segment of the market, with assessments increasing 10 to 30 percent when compared to single-family homes, which showed less variable values. This is especially meaningful since it is a segment of the market that is particularly attractive to first-time buyers. According to assessor Tina Ireland, “The majority of letters are going to strata (property) owners because that’s where the market (was) the most robust as of July 1.”
In certain regions, such as the Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Vancouver Island, more detached homeowners will see increases of 10 to 20 per cent. Other areas, such as Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, and the North Shore fluctuated less.
What does it mean for homeowners when their assessment increases are higher than the average? This means property bills could increase accordingly at the discretion of taxing authorities like Translink and municipalities. Higher assessments are a troubling trend for those already concerned about housing affordability, such as Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie, who argues the current system is flawed.
“It runs counter to our efforts to create affordable housing by increasing more supply,” Louie said. Louie believes the province could help Metro Vancouver municipalities by adjusting how property taxes fund school operations, as Vancouver is a unique market within the province as a whole. Currently, Vancouver homeowners wind up paying more into the provincial school budget than the Vancouver school board winds up getting back in operating funding.
Homeowners can appeal once they receive official notices. Vancouver allows property owners to average dramatic increases in their tax bills over a couple of years to cope better with tax increases.
If you have any questions about property assessments, let’s get in touch – I hope everyone has a happy New Year, and if you’re considering buying or selling a property in 2018, I would love to work with you to achieve your goals.
Image Source: CBC