Property assessment out of whack? Here are some steps you can take
Now that Lower Mainland homeowners have their 2017 property assessments in hand they may have lingering questions about how those values soared so high — single-family homeowners typically saw increases of 30 to 50 per cent — and what to do if they disagree with the results.
Below are five things you should know about your property assessment and how to dispute what you think is inaccurate.
“The first question you want to ask yourself is, as of July 1, 2016, is this a reasonable expectation for what I could have sold my property for?,” said Jason Grant, B.C. Assessment’s area assessor for Greater Vancouver.
1 – Your assessment is essentially an appraisal of your property’s value, considering both changes in land value, including things such as rezoning nearby, and improvements to the building, set by the B.C. Assessment Authority as of July 1 every year.
“Whatever (market) changes happened after July 1, 2016, will be factored into 2018 assessments,” Grant said.
2 – Municipalities use assessments to adjust property-tax rates to account for changes in assessed values for various property classes. The concern for homeowners is whether their assessment rose by more than the average for their property class. If so, Grant said, they will see a tax increase larger than a municipality’s general increase. Homeowners whose assessments rose by less than the average will get a tax break.
3 – The provincial government uses property assessments to establish eligibility for the B.C. Homeowners Grant (the $570 per household grant offered to help defray property taxes on homes that are their principal residence). The threshold value for 2016 was set at $1.2 million, above which the grant is reduced $5 per $1,000 value. However, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Tuesday that the province is reviewing the threshold considering soaring assessments.
4 – Homeowners with questions about their assessments can go online at B.C. Assessment’s e-valueBC site to check how their assessment compares with their neighbours and comparable property sales that would have been used in setting the value. If that doesn’t answer questions, they’re welcome to call B.C. Assessment, said Brian Smith, deputy assessor for the Fraser Valley. It gives assessors a chance to figure out if there are any discrepancies.
“We always encourage people to call us first,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s something we’re able to easily resolve, or with a potential better understanding of where their assessment does come from, people are more content with having seen that type of increase.”
5 – Homeowners have the right to formally appeal their assessments if they still disagree with the result, said Grant. “Failing an understanding at that level, (homeowners) can certainly file an independent complaint,” he said. Those are heard by three-member independent, property assessment review panels in each community. The deadline to appeal is Jan. 31. Typically, one to two per cent of homeowners appeal assessments, Grant said.
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