Several smaller communities across the Thompson Okanagan have shown the biggest increase in potential housing sale prices based on the 2019 BC Assessment notices for the region.
Communities showing double-digit increases in assessed values include Summerland (10 per cent), Keremeos (12), Spallumcheen (18), Sicamous (17) and Lumby (11).
Otherwise across the region, property assessment increases fell within the 6-8 per cent increase range for single-family residential properties. For strata residential properties, the increases were slightly higher, measuring 14 per cent in Vernon, 10 per cent in Kelowna and nine per cent in West Kelowna and Penticton.
“The majority of residential homeowners within the Okanagan can expect a 5 per cent to 15 per cent change compared to last year’s assessment,” said Thompson Okanagan assessor Katrina LeNoury.
“Local communities and individual housing may experience changes greater or lesser than the average, as market values are based on local market demand and conditions.”
LeNoury said assessments are based on real estate sales registered through the land titles office in Kamloops as of July 1, acknowledging a reflection of the real estate market at that time may differ from what is currently evident as housing sales have fallen off since October while available home listings have increased in volume, according to monthly Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board sales updates.
She said factors that impact Okanagan housing values such as a depressed Alberta economy, downturn in some Lower Mainland housing markets and more stringent mortgage qualification rule for first-time buyers are not directly part of the property assessment analysis.
She said what impact that will have if the downturn trend continues into the new year will become evident when the next assessment tabulation is done.
“We don’t set the trend on real estate prices, we are a reflection of what is actually happening in the market at a given point, which in our case is July 1 as mandated by provincial legislation,” she said. “We don’t project forward but rather just reflect what is happening as of that July 1 mandate.”
While it does figure into the final property tax rate for an individual homeowner, LeNoury noted that municipalities set their own tax rates.
“Some people contact us every year and blame us for their taxes increasing but that is not really the case. It is a difficult balance to understand because community set tax rates and assessments are moving parts at the same time,” she said.
“It is important to understand that increases in property assessments do not automatically translate into a corresponding increase in property taxes. How your assessment changes relative to the average change in your community is what may affect your property taxes.”
The average assessed values between 2018 and 2019 show an increase for Kelowna from $590,000 to $632,000, West Kelowna from $577,000 to $614,000, Lake Country from $575,000 to $619,000, Penticton from $445,000 to $481,000 and Vernon from $411,000 to $447,000.
The smallest increases occurred in Enderby, growing from $292,000 to $300,000, and Salmon Arm, seeing a rise from $307,000 to $364,000.
She suggested the increase in strata residential assessments is a reflection of affordability compared to high house prices creating an increased demand for that housing category.
LeNoury said Okanagan-Thompson region residents should start to receive their 2019 assessment notices in the mail this week, as all notices for B.C. Interior residents were mailed out Dec. 31 from the post office in Richmond.
She encourages property owners to check the BC Assessment website to compare their home’s assessed value against other neighbouring or similar properties and do not hesitate to participate in the appeal process if they feel an adjustment is required.
She said about 98 per cent of property owners typically accept their assessment without pursuing an appeal, and those that do often reach a settlement working with BC Assessment appraiser staff before the need to make their case before the property assessment review panel that sits from Feb. 1 to March 15.
“Properties can be valued as similar but there can still be unique differences from one property to the next. Our goal is to make sure your assessment is fair and accurate.”
LeNoury said a desire to appeal needs to be filed as a notice of complaint prior to Jan. 31 to be considered for adjudication.