The start of a new year means it’s time for property owners to check their mail, as BC Assessment has sent out assessment notices to more than 39,000 property owners throughout the Cowichan Valley.
The majority of properties won’t see much change this year.
“Most homes in the Cowichan Valley are remaining stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said Vancouver Island Regional Deputy Assessor Bill Dawson. “Most home owners in the Cowichan Valley will see modest changes in the minus-10-per-cent to plus-10-per-cent range.”
Overall, the Cowichan Valley Assessment Roll decreased slightly from $10,751,961,341 last year to $10,757,489,117 this year. A total of almost $127,000,000 was added through subdivisions, rezoning and new construction in the Cowichan Valley. This is down a bit from the $132,600,000 added last year.
“Most of the residential properties in the Cowichan Valley, the vast majority are going to fall within the assessment change range of plus-10 to minus-10 per cent, but the average assessment in the Town of Ladysmith has really not changed very much at all,” said Dawson.
In Ladysmith, the average assessment for a single family dwelling this year is $285,400, up slightly from $285,100 in 2014.
In North Cowichan, the average assessment for a single family dwelling this year is $312,000, down a bit from $314,700 last year.
Neighbouring municipalities saw slight changes this year as well, as the average assessment in Duncan decreased a bit from $247,447 last year to $245,100 this year, and the average assessment in Lake Cowichan rose from $202,700 last year to $208,100 this year.
In general, commercial property assessments have remained stable in the Cowichan Valley, with a taxable commercial assessment roll of $817,960,841. A total of almost $18,000,000 in new commercial value has been added due to various changes including subdivision, rezoning and new construction.
Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2014, and physical condition as of Oct. 31, 2014. 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.
Dawson encourages property owners who feel their assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1 or who see incorrect information on their notice to contact BC Assessment as soon as possible in January. After speaking to an appraiser, if a property owner is still concerned about their assessment, they can submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by Feb. 2 for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel.
The Central Vancouver Island assessment office is located at 300-125 Wallace St. in Nanaimo and is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the month of January. Property owners can contact BC Assessment toll-free at 1-866-825-8322 or online by clicking “CONNECT” at www.bcassessment.ca.
This year, BC Assessment has launched a newly-enhanced version of its free e-valueBC service at www.bcassessment.ca that allows the general public to search, check and compare properties online from across B.C. Improved navigation, an interactive map and the inclusion of property street-front imagery are among the new features.
“This e-valueBC, I think, is a fantastic tool the public, property owners and anyone interested in property will find great value in,” said Dawson.
Dawson believes that the amount of information BC Assessment provides to property owners through services like e-valueBC contributes to its low rate of appeals.
“In 2014, for the first time ever in our 40-year history, less than one per cent of property owners appealed their assessment,” he said. “We’re very proud of that appeal rating, that it’s so low.”