Assessments slightly down in the Cowichan Valley

The average property assessments in Ladysmith and North Cowichan are down this year but relatively stable.

Property assessments are down this year, as the trend of relative stability in the Cowichan Valley continues.

As 2014 marks BC Assessment’s 40th anniversary, owners of more than 38,000 properties throughout the Cowichan Valley have received or will be receiving their 2014 assessment notices.

“Most homes in the Cowichan Valley are worth less in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said Vancouver Island Regional acting assessor Bill Dawson. “Most home owners in the Cowichan Valley will see modest changes in the minus-10-per-cent to plus-five-per-cent range.”

Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2013, and physical condition as of Oct. 31, 2013.

Changes in property assessments reflect movement in the local real estate market and can vary greatly from property to property, according to BC Assessment.

“When our appraisers take a look at properties and put an assessment on them, they look at characteristics a potential vendor or purchaser would have in mind,” explained Dawson. “If it’s a bigger house in a great location with a great view, it will have a higher value.”

Local governments and other taxing authorities are responsible for property taxation and will calculate property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdiction.

Overall, Cowichan Valley’s assessment roll decreased from $11,006,821,659 last year to $10,751,961,341 this year. This overall 2014 roll value is slightly lower despite an increase of almost $132,600,000 from subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.

In general, commercial property assessments have remained stable in the Cowichan Valley, with a taxable commercial assessment roll of $816,135,916. A total of almost $19,212,142 in new commercial value has been added due to various changes, including subdivision, rezoning and new construction.

“The overall assessment roll decreased because of market change, but it would have decreased even more if we hadn’t had those other changes like new construction,” said Dawson.

In Ladysmith, the average assessment for a single family dwelling this year is $285,100, down from $288,500 last year.

The average assessment for a single family dwelling in the District of North Cowichan is $314,700, a decline from $325,400 last year.

“Over the last couple of years, it’s been a relatively stable assessment roll because it’s been a relatively stable real estate market on Vancouver Island,” explained Dawson, noting that property owners probably won’t be very surprised when they open their assessment notices.

If anyone has any questions about their property assessments, Dawson wants to emphasize that BC Assessment is “open for business.”

He encourages property owners to go online first if they are unclear about anything.

“We have tons of great information on our website,” said Dawson. “[Property owners] can compare neighbouring assessments on their street. They can look at sales in the last year on their street.”

Property owners who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2013, or who see incorrect information on their notice should contact BC Assessment as indicated on their notice as soon as possible in January, noted Dawson.

After speaking to an appraiser, if a property owner is still concerned about their assessment, they may submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel. These notices must be submitted by Friday, Jan. 31.

The Central Vancouver Island assessment office is located at 300-125 Wallace St. in Nanaimo. During the month of January, the office is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Property owners can contact BC Assessment toll-free at 1-866-825-8322 or online by clicking “CONNECT” on the BC Assessment website.