This article was published Dec 6, 2016 on the Globe & Mail and was written by Brent Jang.
Real estate assessments for single-family detached houses in the Vancouver region soared 30 to 50 per cent in value over only a one-year period, underscoring the frenzied state of the market in mid-2016.
While property values have risen steadily over the past 16 years, the latest increase from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, is the sharpest for any one-year valuation period in the Vancouver area in recent memory, said Jason Grant, an assessor with BC Assessment.
“For detached homes in close proximity to Vancouver, you’re looking at increases of 30 to 50 per cent being quite typical, and that’s all the way from Coquitlam to Squamish,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. Other communities affected include West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond and Surrey.
The provincial Crown corporation estimates values on behalf of B.C. municipalities, which use the data to determine how much homeowners will pay in property taxes.
Mr. Grant emphasized that the July 1, 2016, valuation date for properties is especially important because the housing market in and around Vancouver has cooled off since then.
“These large increases in assessments do not automatically translate into a corresponding increase in your property taxes,” he said. “It will depend on how your assessment changes compared with the average change in your community and whether your particular tax jurisdiction requires a larger operating budget and wants to collect more taxes.”
Assessed values differ from market prices, Mr. Grant pointed out.
The average price for detached properties sold in Greater Vancouver hit a peak of $1.83-million in January, 2016, and remained high in July at $1.76-million. In November, the average price for detached houses sold in Greater Vancouver decreased to $1.61-million.
Vancouver-area homeowners have grown accustomed to watching their real estate values climb, especially since mid-2013, though housing sales volume has tumbled since setting a record high in March, 2016.
The B.C. government implemented a 15-per-cent tax on foreign home buyers in the broader area known as Metro Vancouver effective on Aug. 2.
New assessment notices will be mailed on Jan. 3, 2017, and will also be available online.
For condominiums and townhouses with “strata title” ownership in the Vancouver region, typical valuation increases from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, were from 15 per cent to 30 per cent.
“We’re seeing commercial and industrial properties moving 10 to 30 per cent higher, so there is strong movement, particularly anything purchased for eventual residential or mixed-use redevelopment. Some sites lend themselves to rezoning applications, and those sites would typically exceed the range for assessment increases,” Mr. Grant said.
Christopher Whyte of BC Assessment said the typical range for annual increases in assessed values in Greater Victoria ran from 10 to 40 per cent for detached houses in places such as Victoria, Oak Bay, Saanich and Sidney, compared with hikes of 5 to 20 per cent in the Central Okanagon.
“During December, BC Assessment is providing courtesy notification letters to property owners whose assessments are increasing significantly more than the typical range of change,” the B.C. Crown corporation said in a statement, adding that it expects to send roughly 90,000 letters, accounting for 4.5 per cent of the province’s two million properties of various types.
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