Sooke homeowners will likely get a shock when they open their property assessment notices this week, thanks to a region wide increase in property values.
On Tuesday, B.C. Assessment released its 2018 property assessment data, that showed average increases of 17 per cent. between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017. The average value for a property in Sooke jumped from $394,000 to $462,000 .
Tina Ireland, an assessor for the Greater Victoria area, said Sooke, along with the rest of B.C. has had a strong real estate market in the past few years and the 17 per cent hike reflects it.
When determining the value of a property, B.C. Assessment looks at characteristics such as location, neighbourhood, view, size, quality, and age.
Sooke realtor Shane Fedosenko said he does not necessarily agree with the accuracy of the assessments, because they are not done on an individual basis.
“One or two houses on a street could sell for a really high price, and this could bring all the surrounding houses assessments up, even though it might not necessarily reflect the actual value of each individual home,” Fedosenko said.
He added that the assessments are all based on sales, meaning someone could have done a lot of renovations to bring the value of their house up, but no houses sold in their area, so their assessment could be lower than what the market value of their house is worth.
Tammy Dimmock, another local realtor, agreed the assessments are kind of “ball parked” and sometimes may not be accurate, but also said it’s not hard to believe that Sooke saw such an increase.
She explained that there were less listings in 2017, but a lot more offers.
“We are seeing an influx of people coming from Vancouver to Victoria, and people from Victoria moving out to Sooke because it’s more affordable,” Dimmock said. “Anything that goes on the market right now is being swallowed up by multiple offers.”
Dimmock is hopefu the prices will stabilize so people can more easily get in to the market, but predicts the demand in Sooke will keep growing.
“To be realistic, it’s passing houses at the value they should be at in Sooke, and as much as we don’t want to pay more taxes, there is a cost that comes with living in this great community,” she said.
The deadlinefor homeowners to file an appeal for an independent review of their assessment is Jan. 31.
This year’s increase does not necessarily mean that property taxes will increase.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait said with the amount of activity and interest in Sooke, she expected an assessment raise, but said the topic still needs to be discussed at council.
“Council is always considerate of what is affordable and reasonable for our residents, so that’s where we will be looking at our financial plan and deciding how to move forward,” Tait said. “Once we get further into our budget we will better understand how this will impact our residents.”