A tingling sense of panic spread across the city as homeowners began to receive their property assessments in the mail last week. After a year of housing market chaos, the market is just now cooling off thanks to both the new season and some recent government changes to the market’s infrastructure.
Take a moment, though, to think back to July – the sun was out, the skies were blue, and that run-down rancher down the road sold for $200,000 over asking price in a no-strings-attached bidding war. It was during that time that BC Assessment cut off it’s appraising for the year, with any changes made after July 2016 being considered for the 2018 tax year. For single-family homes in Surrey, that could mean an increase of between 30 and 50 percent value.
What does that mean for our taxes in 2017? HomeLife Benchmark Realtor Candy Ashdown advises that “if your property assessment is higher than last year, as most of ours definitely are, don’t worry yet.”
According to the city, municipalities do not collect a windfall because of value increases. “Property taxes are ultimately determined by the revenue required by your City or Municipality to operate.” says Ashdown, who encourages homeowners to do their research within their municipality, and to be aware of the “mill rate” – that is, the amount per $1000 of property value that property taxes are based on. To avoid a steep incline in taxing rates, the cities adjust their rates downwards in times of steep value increases in order to stay within the realm of their budgets.
For houses whose values increased at a similar or below-average rate for their area, homeowners “may not see much of an increase at all,” Ashdown notes. Homeowners whose homes rose significantly more sharply than others in their area were sent early notices from Assessment BC in order to prepare for the potential of a tax increase.
Anyone still feeling the panic should be aware that there are options for them. BC Assessment does have an appeals process available for anyone who does not feel that their assessment truly reflects their home’s value as it was in July 2016, but should be aware that it is a lengthy and grueling process. More information about appeals can be found on BC Assessment’s website.
In addition, the BC Ministry of Finance is set to announce if they will increase the threshold for who is eligible for their homeowner grant program. Currently, the program gives a $570 grant to eligible homeowners on homes valued under $1.2 million.
That threshold was increased by $100, 000 just last year due to record-high real estate prices in the province, and speculation is rising that it will be raised again this year to combat the even hotter market we saw for 2016. A spokesperson for the ministry stated that they are reviewing the program, but “won’t speculate as to what the outcome of this analysis” will be.
Property tax notices are expected to be sent out by late-May for 2017.