Homeowners of more than 246,000 properties throughout northern B.C. are now receiving their 2017 assessment notices.
The majority of residential homeowners within the region can expect an increase compared to last year’s assessment. Overall, the northern B.C. region’s total assessments increased from $59.2 billion in 2016 to $60.3 billion this year, which equates to a 1.9 per cent increase in the assessment roll.
Most home owners in the northern B.C. region will see changes in the zero to 10 per cent range.
Burns Lake homeowners can expect to see an increase of 4.32 per cent while Houston residents will see an increase of just over 10 per cent. Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof will see a decrease of less than one per cent while Smithers will see an increase of 1.74 per cent. Prince George homeowners can expect an increase of 6.29 per cent.
However, some homeowners will see chagens outside of this range. Granisle homeowners will see a decrease of 20 per cent in this year’s assessment.
With property assessments showing increases as high as 50 per cent in urban areas of B.C., the provincial government is promoting its interest-free loan program for first-time home buyers as existing home-owners brace for higher property tax bills.
Preliminary data showed increases of 30 to 50 per cent for houses and condos in Metro Vancouver, 10 to 40 per cent for Greater Victoria and five to 30 per cent in the Central Okanagan.
Rising values mean fewer properties qualifying for the provincial homeowner’s grant. Homes valued at more than $1.2 million are ineligible, and Metro Vancouver politicians have repeatedly called on the province to create a regional system for grant eligibility to reflect higher values in their region.
The province’s latest move is the creation of a second-mortgage fund for first-time buyers, called the B.C. Home Partnership. It starts taking applications on Jan. 16, with loans up to five per cent of the purchase price to a maximum of $37,500, interest free for five years for qualified buyers.
Housing minister Rich Coleman said the program is designed to help renters as well as first-time buyers, as more people move out of a tight rental market into their own homes. The province estimates 42,000 households are eligible to take advantage of the interest-free loans.
Property assessment notices were mailed out last week and values were posted at the B.C. Assessment website (www.bcassessment.ca), based on the agency’s mid-2016 real estate market surveys.
– With files from Tom Fletcher