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What's up with the Assessed Values in Vancouver?

Blog by Patricia Houlihan - Personal Real Estate Corporation | January 14th, 2011

Since the BC Property Assessments were sent out many people living and owning properties in Vancouver and other areas (North Shore, White Rock etc) have called me to ask questions about their assessments. In some areas, it appears the increases have been crazy.  At the entry level and slightly above, some Vancouver area homes have seen their assessments increase by huge amounts. In general assessments have increased significantly; in many cases a lot more than the real increase in property values over the past year.  When the prices were increasing at crazy levels, we did not see a corresponding increase in property values so it seems that this year, while the market was fairly stable, the Assessment Authority may have decided to "catch up".

Last year I sent out the article below to provide basic information about assessments.  It was prepared by the Real Estate Board to explain to realtors how assessments work. You will see the article is directed towards realtors however the information is of course accurate.

If you have questions about the article or need to know whether your particular assessment is likely at, below or above market value, or if you need some tips on appealing your assessment, please feel free to contact me.  If you think you would like to appeal your assessment, you need to act fast. If you have questions about the "market value" as opposed to the "assessed value" of your property, I would be happy to discuss this with you. If you need help determining values so that you can appeal, please let me know.  Remember: in order to appeal, you need to make a good case that your property is worth less/more than the assessor has said it is.  The fact that your assessment may have increased significantly is not a basis for appeal.



The article:

What’s it worth? Property Assessment Notices have arrived

BC property owners have now received their 2010 Property Assessment Notice from BC Assessment (BCA). There may be a difference between value listed on this notice and the market value determined by a REALTOR®. Property owners may want to know why. What accounts for this difference?

There are two reasons.

When: the Property Assessment Notice is BCA’s estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1 of the previous year. In contrast, a REALTOR’s® market value assessment is current. In the active Lower Mainland market, six months can mean a difference in value of thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

How: BCA has a database of 1.8 million properties. To gain an estimate of value a BCA appraiser visits the site and reviews lot size, house type, age, heating, outbuildings such as sheds and garages, and spas or pools. They also look at whether the property has a lane or is on a busy street or highway.

BCA appraisers don’t visit every property every year to update the database. Instead, they use a mass appraisal system, calculating values by evaluating prices for similar properties or units sold in neighbourhoods as of July 1. They consider all of this information when arriving at the assessed value.

REALTORS® determine property value by reviewing recent comparable data for homes sold in a neighbourhood on the MLS®. REALTORS® examine the exterior and interior of a property in detail, noting additions such as spas or pools, and renovations such as new kitchens or bathrooms that affect home value. They take into account view lines, architectural styles and landscaping.

Where every lot and every home on a street are generally the same, both BCA’s value and the REALTOR’S® value will be similar during stable market conditions.

Differences occur in neighbourhoods where lots are different shapes and sizes, where each home’s architecture is unique and every view is distinct. Differences occur when property owners make changes such as renovations that BCA does not know about.

Assessments and property taxes

Just because your client’s 2010 Property Assessment Notice shows an increase in assessed value doesn’t mean that your client’s property taxes will automatically increase by the same proportion.

Municipal governments (not BC Assessment) set property tax rates based on budget requirements. They review the assessment roll, a listing of all properties in the municipality with legal descriptions and assessed values, created with BCA assessment data. Depending on overall local government budget needs and whether new construction has been added to a property class, property taxes on an individual property may increase, remain the same or even decrease.

Property assessment comparisons

To compare your property assessment with other property values in your neighbourhood, go to www.bcassessment.ca, and then select e-valueBC – Compare Assessments Online.

Property assessment appeals

Property owners who disagree with their property assessment must file a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by February 1, 2010. There is a formal appeal process. Details are on the back page of each assessment notice. For more information visit: www.bcassessment.bc.ca