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EDITORIAL: The impact of rising assessment values

Higher housing assessment figures do not necessarily mean a corresponding tax increase
The Barclay House on Victoria Road South in Summerland is the oldest continuously inhabited home in Summerland. This year, homes across the province saw a dramatic increase in their assessment values. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Homeowners across British Columbia are still reeling after seeing their 2022 assessment values go through the roof.

Here in the Okanagan Valley, assessments for residential properties are more than 30 per cent higher than they were a year ago. Many other areas also saw marked increases in assessed values. The reason for these higher values, according to BC Assessment, is a robust housing market.

While the thought of a massive assessment increase is concerning for some, the higher assessment values don’t always result in a corresponding tax hike. By the same token, if property values provincewide had shown a dramatic decrease, it would not mean property taxes would be reduced.

READ ALSO: Assessed home values jump by more than 30 per cent across Central Okanagan

READ ALSO: Penticton’s most expensive property worth almost $8 million

Assessment values are a factor in calculating property taxes, but a far more important factor is the municipal budget, as determined by the mayor and council or the members of a regional district board. If the municipal budget shows an overall increase or decrease, this will be reflected in the tax bill — along with school and hospital taxes which make up the bulk of the bill.

Still, the assessment values provide some important information and should be studied carefully.

BC Assessment bases its values on the selling price a property would have had as of July 1 in any given year. This in turn is based on real estate sales in the various communities around the province.

The higher assessment values this year indicate that home buyers were willing to pay significantly more for houses last year than the year before.

This is good news for those looking to sell a home and downsize, but terrible for those looking to move into a larger home, or for first-time homebuyers who may find themselves priced out of the market in their communities.

Housing in B.C. has always been pricey and the pandemic has only supercharged a housing market some thought was too hot already. The skyrocketing cost of housing has long-reaching impacts and the 2022 BC Assessment spike is just one among many others.

Discussions about housing affordability are needed, especially as prices continue their rapid ascent. Some of these discussions have already started, with councils examining carriage houses, secondary suites and the impact of short-term vacation rentals. Decisions made now will affect housing price trends in the future.

As for property tax increases, that is a separate matter — one to address when councils and regional district boards prepare their budgets in the weeks and months ahead.

— Black Press

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