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Home Values to Drop Significantly in Some Parts of B.C.: Most Assessments Largely Unchanged

For the first time in many years, a significant number of homeowners in some areas of B.C. will see a drop in their property assessments, B.C. Assessment said Wednesday.


The most significant decreases will be seen in Whistler, Pemberton, on the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island, said Jason Grant, B.C. Assessment Authority assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky region. 


"In stark contrast to last year, where (more than) 25-per-cent increases weren't unusual, most residential homeowners (in Vancouver Sea to Sky) will open their assessment this year and say, 'I'm within about five per cent off of where I was last year,'" said Grant McDonald, deputy assessor for B.C. Assessment's Vancouver Sea to Sky region. 


"Looking at the city of Vancouver, if you drew a graph for a 10-year period from 2002 to 2012, it pretty much is a very steep curve in terms of value increases, with a blip in 2008 when values appeared to be falling a bit. Now it has sort of flattened off; the market is taking a bit of a breather." 


Last year, homeowners in some areas of Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby saw their assessments rise as much as 30 per cent, while some areas, such as Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton saw decreases of ten to 15 per cent.
B.C. Assessment does not provide averages, but it did provide some specific "representative examples" of properties and how much their values changed this year. 


A 50-foot, single family lot on Vancouver's west side that was assessed at $1,645,400 last year is assessed at $1,622,900 this year, a drop of 1.3 per cent. On the city's east side, a 33-foot, single family lot assessed at $1,031,300 last year, is assessed at $1,081,700 this year, an increase of 4.9 per cent. 


In Whistler, a single family dwelling in Alpine Meadows that was assessed for $2,252,000 last year, is assessed for $2,145,000 this year, a drop of 4.8 per cent. In Whistler Village, a two-bedroom apartment that was assessed at $491,000 last year, is assessed for $429,000 this year, a drop of 12.6 per cent. 


On Bowen Island, a non-waterfront single-family home that was assessed at $530,000 last year was assessed at $454,000 this year, a drop of 14.3 per cent. A waterfront home there dropped from $1.7 million to $1.3 million, a drop of 23.5 per cent. 


In other areas of Metro Vancouver, some properties saw increases up to 10 per cent, while some areas saw drop of up to five per cent from last year. 


For example, a single-family house in the Thompson area of Richmond, an area that saw 30-per-cent increases last year, is this year assessed at $1,642,000, while last year it was assessed at $1,677,000, a drop of two per cent. 


On the 2011 assessments, Richmond saw some properties increase as much as 17 per cent, while many West Vancouver and Vancouver homeowners saw jumps in assessment of 12 or 13 per cent. Whistler prices were down two per cent on the 2011 assessments. 


B.C. Assessment does provide percentage changes in the total value of properties in a region, but this amount is not an average change that homeowners will see on their assessments because it includes new construction and other non-market factors such as renovations and rezonings. Nonetheless, it is an indication of the general direction property assessments are moving in a given area. 


For 2013, the total property roll for Vancouver increased two per cent, in Delta it rose 3.55 per cent, in Surrey it rose 5.15 per cent and in West Vancouver it rose 8.8 per cent. The total property roll in Whistler fell 3.81 per cent, on Bowen Island it fell 6.9 per cent and in Pemberton it fell 4.31 per cent. 


Across the province, the total number of properties on the 2013 roll is 1,935,426, a 0.92-per-cent increase from 2012. The total value of real estate on the 2013 roll is $1,129,026,081,413, a 2.3-per-cent increase from 2012, B.C. Assessment said. 


A drop in a property's value does not necessarily translate into a drop in property taxes, which would only differ from a city's budgeted increase if a particular property has gone up or down in value more than the average for other properties in the same community. 


Property assessments reflect market value as of July 1, 2012. Since that time, sales in Metro Vancouver have slowed and some prices have dropped. 


"In markets that have declined in value since the summer of 2012, the 2013 property assessment may be higher than current sales or listing prices," said Zina Weston, deputy assessor. 


"We've seen quite a decline in the number of sales; so far for 2012 it's down about 30 per cent, but the actual values haven't really come off. In Vancouver, things are still selling for higher than we had on the assessment roll last year," McDonald said. 


People who feel that their property assessment does not reflect the home's property value as of July 1, 2012, should contact the B.C. Assessment office for their area. Appeals will be accepted until January 31. 


"It is a quieter year and I suspect that will be reflected in the number of inquiries we get," McDonald said. "It will be interesting to watch the next few months to see what happens." 


One assessed value that is contentious is that of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal; a recent decision slashed its value to just $20 from $47.7 million, meaning the District of West Vancouver will lose about $250,000 in property tax revenue. The District of West Vancouver plans to fight the assessment, which could have ramifications for other ferry terminals, in court.
The province increased the threshold for the Home Owners Grant for property taxes by $10,000 to $1.295 million to keep pace with rising property value assessments, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced Wednesday. 


Assessments will be arriving in the mail in the next few days and are available online at http://evaluebc.bcassessment.ca/.