Understanding Your Property Assessment

Property assessments came out in January and were quite surprising for some. We saw property values rise about 30% from July 2015 to July 2016, so why did assessments go up 50% or more? The short answer is the assessment authority assumed prices would continue to increase through the second half of 2016, so they over estimated the values! Typically, property assessments seem to be less than true market value even when you consider the actual date of the assessment. It’s shocking for some but this year’s assessments represent a fairly accurate measure of value for many properties, but not all.

There are many reasons why your property assessment may not accurately represent market value. Assessments are based on neighbourhood sales. The dimensions of lots and buildings are used for calculations as is the age of the building.

Items that are often not considered: a) shape of the lot – an irregular shaped lot is not as valuable as a rectangular or square lot; b) south-facing versus north-facing back yards; c) corner lots are not as valuable as non-corner; d) renovations of older homes; e) basement suites; f) quality of construction and special features; and g) unique features of the lot. It is also possible that the information that the assessment is based on is wrong!. I have seen many assessments where the square footage of a house is substantially inaccurate. Also, and this is big, not all sales represent market value! There may have been a special reason why a particular house on your block sold for more or less than market value. This reason is usually not apparent unless you question the real estate agent or owners however, this sale will affect the neighbourhood assessments.

Please never rely on your BC Assessment if you are planning to sell your property.