Ladysmith assessments pretty stable

Most homes in the Cowichan Valley will see moderate decreases or little change in their property assessments.

It’s that time of year again when property owners receive their assessment notices — and for 2012, that likely means little change in Ladysmith and the surrounding area.

“Most homes in Cowichan Valley will see moderate decreases or little change in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said Vancouver Island regional assessor Bill MacGougan.

Overall Cowichan Valley’s taxable residential assessment roll is $11,868,483,068 this year.

A total of almost $242,000,000 in new residential value has been added due to various changes, including subdivision, rezoning and new construction, according to BC Assessment.

In Ladysmith, the residential general overall taxable value in 2011 was $1,037,804,001, and it is essentially unchanged for 2012, as the total residential value is $1,037,759,701, explained MacGougan.

“It’s so close to being no change at all for individual values in Ladysmith,” he said. “You’ll see changes for most properties of minus-10 per cent to plus-five per cent. The overall assessment is completely stable, but individual property owners will see changes to their assessments either moderately up or moderately down.”

The total value of  all property classes in Ladysmith in 2012 is $1,130,325,221, up from $1,125,766,282 in 2011.

“There are two different types of changes affecting roll value,” said MacGougan. “There’s market change — what happened in the market to affect change — and non-market change — new construction, rezoning, subdivision, all these sorts of things that can increase value or create value but are not related to changes in the market.”

Within Ladysmith, $21 million in new residential construction added to the roll, according to MacGougan.

“Last year, it was close to $27 million, so it’s not much different than last year,” he said. “Most jurisdictions are down more than that in their growth.”

MacGougan says this year’s assessments follow recent stability in this area.

“We’ve been stable for a couple years,” he said. “The market was climbing, and Ladysmith was not an anomaly for most of it. We saw substantial increases in the years leading up to 2008, then in 2008, we saw major correction. Definitely we saw the market climbing and assessments as well up until 2008. For the 2009 assessment roll, we had Bill 45, which, for the most part, caused assessments to stay the same. It’s been very stable this year and in 2011.”

The total value of all property classes has increased every year in Ladysmith. The most dramatic changes occurred between 2005 and 2008, as values went from $547,142,516 in 2005 to $1,013,139,332 in 2008.

MacGougan believes the market is still strong, despite economic turmoil across the globe.

“I think there’s a balance going on between some of the factors that would push markets up and down,” he said. “The availability of credit is still good, and mortgage rates are historically low, which drives buying up. But there’s still risk there. All these factors serve to mitigate the upward pressure and hold us in balance throughout the province, with the exception of Greater Vancouver. For Vancouver Island, it’s steady as she goes.”

Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2011, and physical condition as of Oct. 31, 2011. When estimating a property’s market value, BC Assessment’s professional appraisers analyse current sales in the area, and they consider factors such as size, age, quality, condition, view and location.

After BC Assessment completes its assessments, it provides its data to municipalities, which set tax rates based on their budget requirements and send property owners a tax notice each spring.

MacGougan encourages property owners to take a close look at their assessment notice and make sure it is fair and to go to BC Assessment’s website or contact the assessment office if they have questions.

“It’s kind of like a public audit for us, and people get to decide if it’s reasonable or not,” he said.

Property owners who feel their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2011, or who see incorrect information on their notice should contact the assessment office as soon as possible in January, according to MacGougan.

If a property owner is still concerned about their assessment after speaking to an appraiser, they have until Jan. 31 to submit an appeal for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel.

The Property Assessment Review Panels, independent of BC Assessment, are appointed annually by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and they meet between Feb. 1 and March 15 to hear formal complaints.

The Central Vancouver Island assessment office is located at 300-125 Wallace St. in Nanaimo. Contact the office at 250-753-6621.

For more information about your notice, visit www.bcassessment.ca.