2017 Property Assessments

  chfbc      22 January 2017

BC Assessment sent out notices some time ago and your co-op’s board should have had a chance to see how your assessed value has changed since last year. Like many property owners, your co-op will have seen an increase. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it’s prudent to keep an eye on these changes.CHF BC surveyed 267 co-op properties – representing about 90% of the total. Across BC, non-profit housing co-ops saw an average increase of about 27.5%; the median increase was somewhat lower at just under 22%. The chart below summarizes the kinds of changes co-ops are seeing on their notices:Chart: BC Property Assessments (2016 to 2017)(Total # of co-op properties in sample: 267.)These increases are higher overall than last year, but this has been an unusual year, and news outlets have reported on the phenomenon, which affects not just non-profit housing, but market residential properties and businesses as well.Co-ops should remember that increases in assessed value do not translate directly into property tax increases. Only if your property value increases more than the average in your area will you see proportionally higher tax increases (compared to other property owners). And homeowner’s grants may have an offsetting effect.If your co-op finds itself well along the right-hand side of the chart with a large assessment increase, you may be interested in considering an appeal.One of the easier avenues of appeal is arguing for a change in the value of the improvements. In the past, co-ops with envelope issues or other serious maintenance problems have been able to argue for reductions. Supporting engineering documents (e.g. building condition assessments) best back up claims of overvaluation. Contamination (hazardous materials) and legal issues (such as covenants on the land title) may also support reduced assessments. On the other hand, if your co-op has seen significant capital works over the last couple of years, relative increases in your assessed value should be expected.Co-ops may undertake appeals on their own, or seek assistance from management companies or consultants specializing in assessment issues. Some of the consultant firms will charge fees for their services, others may seek compensation based on the size of the property tax reduction they are able to obtain for their clients. However your co-op decides to proceed, the deadline for filing an appeal is January 31, 2016. You can find some recent articles online that have discussed the impact of property assessments and how they relate to property taxes:  Business Concerns “Soaring land values in Vancouver spark a ‘property tax revolt,’”Globe and Mail, January 13, 2017. Residential Property Owners “Property assessment increases soar past 40 per cent mark,” Vancouver Courier, January 3, 2017.  Changes in Homeowner’s Grant “Homeowner’s grant threshold increases to $1.6 million,” West Ender, January 10, 2017.And the BC Assessment webpage offers a lot of good information as well, particularly about the mandate of the organization to determine market values for properties and how the appeals process works.