Property assessment notices left some South Cariboo residents reeling with the average single-family residential property going up by 20 per cent in the 100 Mile House Area, according to BC Assessment.
The increase was tied with Kitimat with the greatest increase in Northern B.C.
It left many residents worried about big increases on their tax bills.
Peter Reid’s assessment went up by 37 per cent.
“I got a letter from the assessment board, right, thinking it was my assessment.”
However, it was a letter telling him he was going to be shocked when he gets his assessment, Reid says.
In his retirement, he says he also manages two commercial properties on Exeter Station Rd. Those went up 56 and 87 per cent.
“I’m worried about other taxpaying seniors.”
When he phoned BC Assessment the first thing they told him is that he can defer his taxes but he says he doesn’t want to do that because it will take away from his children when they inherit the house.
“I’m hoping to get my assessment reduced and I’m hoping other people will take the lead.”
Local realtor and councillor Dave Mingo didn’t seem as surprised there was an increase.
“My first reaction was that BC Assessment is catching up to some of the sale prices we’ve had in the area.”
According to the Northern Real Estate Board, half of single family residential properties in 100 Mile House sold for less than $290,000 compared to $270,000 in Williams Lake and $231,000 in Quesnel. On the flip side of that, the 2018 Average Assessed Value (as of July 1, 2017) was $198,700 in 100 Mile House, compared to $213,700 in Williams Lake and $174,150 in Quesnel. The changes in assessed values mean 100 Mile House has now surpassed Williams Lake in terms of average assessed value.
Discrepancies in increases between assessed properties may be in part because there are fewer comparable properties than there would be in a larger market, according to Mingo.
“One home could skew the assessment of the whole neighbourhood just because maybe someone has overpaid for whatever reason,” he says. “It would be a challenge for BC Assessment… because we’re just not a big area.
That’s a concern for Brian James, another local resident.
“I’m gonna go down and dispute it. This is crazy. We can’t sell the place for that kind of money.”
Mingo says it would be hard for BC Assessment to do anything differently.
“It’s not an easy task. Especially when we’ve had an active market. We have seen some homes that have sold for historic values. Higher than what we’ve seen.”
Mingo clarifies that the increases in property values doesn’t necessarily mean more taxes for local governments.
“When the assessed values go up, the mil rates will go down because local governments still will be collecting the same amount. So if your property goes up the same as average, as everyone else there should be no effect to your taxes. If your property were to go up considerably more than average yes then your tax notice [would be higher].”
Those who went up less than average may actually pay fewer taxes, he adds.
That’s not much consolation to residents such as Reid, for whom assessed value has gone up more than average.
His letter states; “As your draft 2019 assessment is increasing above the average for your community, your property taxes are likely to increase as a result.”
Jarret Krantz, deputy assessor for the Northern B.C. region, says properties will change values at different rates.
“It’s all based on real estate market values.”
Assessments can be affected by renovations or a change in demand for specific properties, for example, he says.
“The key to what BC Assessment does is, we’ll look at all the sales in the community and then we compare them to similar properties.”
Krantz says that while it’s possible an assessment increase is largely due to a single sale but that they’ll look at all properties sold in the community to make sure the sale is a good indicator of the market value.
“It probably wouldn’t ever come down to a single sale but we do use the information that’s available.”
They also look at other available data, such as listing prices, he says.
While they’ve had some calls from local residents, there’s been nothing out of the ordinary, he says.
“I definitely would emphasize that if people do have concerns with their assessments, go to our website at bcassessment.ca and search around there, because there’s lots of interactive tools there that can allow people to see assessments of similar properties so they can see if they’re assessed fairly and they can also search out comparable sales.”
From that, they can make an informed judgement on whether the assessment is reflective of the property value, he says.
Krantz encourages people to contact them early if they have concerns.
If it can’t be resolved, the appeals deadline is Jan. 31 and there’s no wiggle room on that, he says.
Reid says he’ll also be looking to appeal the assessment.
In 100 Mile, for the 2018 roll year there were seven appeals. One of them was withdrawn and three of them had small percentage of changes made on them. For the 2017 roll year, there were five appeals in 100 Mile House. One of them was withdrawn and one of them had a small percentage change made on it, according to Krantz.