Assessments for the average house in the Town of Lake Cowichan have jumped up 22 per cent. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: Lake Cowichan tops list with 22 per cent as property assessments jump in Cowichan Valley

With Victoria house prices and availability skyrocketing, buyers looking north are pushing up values

In the next few days, owners of more than 369,000 properties throughout Vancouver Island can expect to receive their 2018 assessment notices which reflect market value as of July 1, 2017.

“The majority of residential home owners within the region can expect an increase in their assessment in the 10 per cent to 25 per cent range as compared to last year’s assessment,” Assessor Tina Ireland said this week. “The market has remained strong across the island and across property types. The residential strata market has been particularly robust with assessments increasing 15 per cent to 35 per cent in many areas.”

The biggest jump in residential assessment values in the Cowichan Valley is in the Town of Lake Cowichan, where assessments have gone up an average of 22 per cent.

In North Cowichan, residential assessments have only climbed an average of 17 per cent, while in the City of Duncan, it’s even less, at a 16 per cent hike over last year’s values.

In the more wide-open residential categories, Cowichan Rural, and Lake Cowichan Rural, assessments have gone up by an average of 18 per cent for the average house.

So, what is the average house?

In North Cowichan, that means a house assessed at $341,000 when the notices came out last year at this time is now assessed at $399,000. In Duncan, a house that was assessed at $267,000 is now rated at $312,000.

But in Lake Cowichan, which has drawn a flood of purchasers looking for affordably priced homes in the past year, the average house, which was valued at $228,000 last year, is now up to $278,000.

Residential single detached homes in urban and rural areas on Vancouver Island have risen five to 25 per cent, while residential strata units (condos) in rural and urban areas have also changed in value, anywhere up to 35 per cent.

Assessments on commercial properties and light industrial properties in both rural and urban areas on Vancouver Island have also changed in value, anywhere up to 20 per cent.

Overall, Vancouver Island’s total assessments increased from $192.7 billion in 2017 to $223.1 billion this year. A total of almost $3.2 billion of the region’s updated assessments is from new construction, subdivisions and rezoning of properties.

Go to bcassessment.ca for more details about 2018 assessments, property information and trends such as lists of 2018’s top valued residential properties across the province. The website also provides self-service access to a free, online property assessment search service that allows anyone to search, check and compare 2018 property assessments for anywhere in the province.

“Property owners can find a lot of information on our website including answers to many assessment-related questions, but those who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2017, or see incorrect information on their notice, should contact BC Assessment as indicated on their notice as soon as possible in January,” Ireland said.

“If a property owner is still concerned about their assessment after speaking to one of our appraisers, they may submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by Jan. 31, for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel,” she added.

The Property Assessment Review Panels, independent of BC Assessment, are appointed annually by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and typically meet between Feb. 1 and March 15 to hear formal complaints.

“It is important to understand that increases in property assessments do not automatically translate into a corresponding increase in property taxes,” adds Ireland. “How your assessment changes relative to the average change in your community is what may affect your property taxes.”

Assessment explained

According to BC Assessment, more than 98 per cent of property owners typically accept their property assessment without proceeding to a formal, independent review of their assessment. The figures given are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2017 and physical condition as of October 31, 2017. This common valuation date ensures there is an equitable property assessment base for property taxation, according to Ireland.

Changes in property assessments reflect movement in the local real estate market and can vary greatly from property to property. When estimating a property’s market value, BC Assessment’s professional appraisers analyze current sales in the area, as well as considering other characteristics such as size, age, quality, condition, view and location.

Real estate sales determine a property’s value which is reported annually by BC Assessment. Local governments and other taxing authorities are responsible for property taxation and, after determining their own budget needs this spring, will calculate property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdiction.

BC Assessment’s assessment roll provides the foundation for local and provincial taxing authorities to raise more than $7.5 billion in property taxes each year. This revenue funds the many community services provided by local governments around the province as well as the K-12 education system.

The Vancouver Island BC Assessment offices are located at: #300-125 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, B.C., V9R 5B2

During the month of January, office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Property owners can contact BC Assessment toll-free at 1-866-valueBC (1-866-825-8322) or online at bcassessment.ca and can follow BC Assessment on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well.