The Ups and Downs of B.C. Assessments
Should you appeal your BC Assessment? Well, the numbers are out and some are up and some are down with no shortage of conflicting opinion as to what the latest property assessments all mean. As REALTORS® we know that an assessed value determined in July of the previous year may reflect little on the current market value of a property for any number of reasons, including the property was not personally inspected by an assessor, conditions either deteriorated or improved in recent months or market conditions changed.
The Assessment Authority estimates the majority of homeowners will see a change of less than five per cent either up or down. The public can compare their assessment to others in their neighbourhood free of charge by accessing BCA’s website www.bcassessment.ca and its easy-to-use e-valueBC program. Those wishing to challenge their assessment must do so by January 31st. In reality, few do so. In 2011, more than ninety-eight per cent of property owners accepted their property assessment without proceeding to a formal, independent review.
With this being said, it may be a smart decision to challenge your BC Assessment for various reasons, including to facilitate a successful sale of your property. We have included a section below with the most FAQs however, we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about your assessment and/or the decision to appeal.
Q. What is B.C. Assessment?
A. B.C. Assessment is a provincial Crown corporation that classifies and values all real property in British Columbia. On December 31st, B.C. Assessment sends property owners a Property Assessment notice telling them the fair market value of the property as of July 1st of that year. This assessment is the basis used by taxing authorities for determining the share of municipal and provincial property taxes owners will pay.
Q. Why are assessments based on market value?
A. Market value for assessment purposes in British Columbia is the most probable price of a property in an open market between a willing buyer and seller. As such it is considered the fairest system for distributing the property tax burden. Owners of higher valued properties pay higher taxes than the owners of lower valued properties.
Q. How is market value determined?
A. B.C. Assessment appraisers consider each of a property’s unique characteristics as a home buyer would consider such as size, layout, age, finishings, garage size, sundecks, condition of buildings and views. Local services, location and neighbourhood may also affect values. Appraisers may enter a home to conduct inspections and analyze all real estate sales in their area to develop common units of comparison and corresponding values.
Q. Why are the Assessments mailed six months after the valuation date of July 1st?
A. B.C. Assessment’s professional appraisers must review close to two million properties every year and this six month period provides staff with the time they require to ensure the annual assessment roll is as fair and as accurate as possible. In the fall, appraisers also inspect new construction and development, verify the physical condition of each property as of the end of October and verify ownership through the Land Title and Survey Authority by November 30th. Once this information is collected, appraisers complete the final assessment roll in early December.
Q. Why is there a difference between my property’s value on the Assessment Notice, the bank mortgage appraisal and a real estate appraisal?
A. The real estate market is the single biggest influence on market values. Market forces vary from time to time and real estate or bank assessments done outside the July 1st assessment period are likely to vary. As well, without being physically able to inspect every one of the some 2 million properties in B.C., unrecorded improvements or physical deterioration may lead to variances in valuations.
We know this last point is the primary focus of interest for many homeowners. Increases, as seen in West Vancouver, may bolster hopes of those either on the market or intending to be in the near future, while frustrating others in the form of higher taxes. Lower assessments as seen in the West Side, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast may discourage those in the market to sell, while causing others to celebrate as they see their property taxes shrink.
Again, it may be worth challenging your BC Assessment. You have until January 31st to submit your appeal. If you have any questions, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your options.
Julie & Judy
~ Sutton West Coast