Vancouver single-family property assessments jump dramatically

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Naoibh O?Connor
Van. Courier

Assessed values of both Vancouver east and west side single-family properties climbed dramatically over the previous year, according to B.C. Assessment.

It released its annual assessment figures Jan. 4 and it provided a few examples of some individual assessments including one for an East Side, single-family, 33-foot lot, which jumped by 28 per cent from $993,000 last year to $1,267,000 this year, and one for a West Side, single-family, 33-foot lot that rose by 23 per cent from $1,575,000 to $1,940,000.

Assessed values for strata properties didn’t grow nearly as significantly. In one example provided by B.C. Assessment, a West Side low-rise strata unit increased by eight per cent from $615,000 to $662,000, while the value of an East Side high-rise strata increased six per cent from $381,000 to $405,000.

“The real standout [in Vancouver] this year would be the market movement for single-family properties. You would probably have to go back — if you went back to 1980, there’s probably only two or three other times when single-family properties in Vancouver have moved by this much this quickly,” Jason Grant, regional assessor for B.C. Assessment, told the Courier.

“What really contrasts this year as well is the strata market would really be down in that five to 10 per cent range, so it’s not moving the same amount. It’s a significant contrast this year.”

Grant added that in any given year there might be extreme pockets of movement, but what’s notable this year is that the assessed value of the majority of single-family properties across Vancouver climbed by between 15 and 25 per cent — and some in excess of that figure.

The fact many East Side residential properties, on a percentage basis, outperformed West Side ones also doesn’t happen very often, he said.

Property owners should note that the assessment roll reflects market values as of July 2015 and the value of many single-family properties have grown — in some cases significantly — since then.

“So the other big difference this year is people might open their assessment and it’s reflecting July values and their values might have risen fairly dramatically since then depending on whereabouts they’re located. That also doesn’t happen very often to that degree,” Grant said.

B.C. Assessment sent 37,000 warning letters, in a province of more than 2,000,000 property owners, advising of extreme changes in assessments — that is, if a property’s assessed value was going up more than 15 per cent above the typical for the taxation jurisdiction.

Grant said 22,000 of those letters went to property owners in the Greater Vancouver region.

“If the typical was 25 per cent in a particular jurisdiction, we would send letters to people who went up 40 per cent or above,” he explained. “… You probably wouldn’t get a letter in Vancouver unless you were going up more than about 40 per cent. If you’re in the 20 to 30 per cent range or the 25 to 35 per cent range that, believe it or not, is fairly typical.”

Assessments for single-family properties in many Lower Mainland communities including North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Tri-cities, New Westminster and Squamish also saw large assessment increases in the 15 to 25 per cent range, but assessed values of single-family and strata properties outside the Lower Mainland didn’t grow as much. They ranged from zero to 10 per cent.

Overall, the Greater Vancouver region’s total assessments increased from $546.7 billion in 2015 to $636.2 billion this year.

Assessments are in the mail this week, but they can be found online already. B.C. Assessments’ e-valueBC service went live Jan. 1.

It’s been overhauled since last year. Now it’s map-based, so you don’t have to know the address of a property — you can simply click on it. The site allows users to check other properties’ assessed values and compare them to their own.

Typically, only one to two per cent of property owners ask for a review of their assessment, a figure that usually doesn’t change even in years where assessment values rise significantly. A notice of appeal must be filed by Feb. 1.

Grant said changes in assessments don’t automatically translate into a corresponding change in taxes.

“It’s going to depend on where you are relative to the average,” he said.

So, what should property owners expect next year?

“We are already, believe it or not, six months in towards our next valuation cut off of July 2016 and the market has moved significantly already since July. So if it keeps on this trajectory, there will be an increase again next year for 2017,” Grant said.

© 2016 Vancouver Courier


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