Sooke single-family home assessments to leap 10 to 40% this year

Assessments for all homes will be mailed in the first week of January

Single-family homes in Sooke will face “substantial increases” on their 2017 B.C. Assessments.

Homeowners in the Sooke region will probably see higher assessments in the 10 to 40 per cent range, said Christopher Whyte, acting assessor for the Vancouver Island region.

Five per cent of homeowners across B.C. can expect higher taxes because their properties have risen higher than the average in their municipality.

Courtesy notification letters will be sent to homeowners whose assessed values are at least 15 per cent higher than average in their municipality and they can expect taxes to go up by the same amount.

Assessments for all homes will be mailed in the first week of January and be posted online Jan. 3.

Homeowners have until the end of January to have the assessed value reviewed and their complaint will be heard before March 15.

“There has been a significant market movement in the Lower Vancouver Island area this year,” Whyte said.

“Victoria has a solid job market, vacancies are low, there’s pressure from Lower Mainland and retirement, all those factors come into play.”

Other factors that can affect an assessment are significant renovations, how attractive the neighbourhood is for investors and homebuyers, and zoning changes, for instance to increase density.

Not all properties assessed at a higher value will see their taxes rise, said Whyte. It depends on how your property performs compared to others in your taxing jurisdiction,” he said, adding some taxes can decrease.

If a property goes up 50 per cent and the average for that municipality is 30 per cent, “then that homeowner will see a tax increase,” he said.

And there’s no indication of the market slowing down.

So far this year, more than 600 homes have sold in Sooke, compared to 395 in 2015.

Sooke realtors sold 14 properties last week.

“Anything that’s coming up on the market that’s decently priced is selling,” said Sooke realtor Tammi Dimock, adding this is the strongest market in years.

Higher assessments shouldn’t be a surprise to homeowners, said Whyte.

“The reason we’re notifying property owners this year is because its quite a substantial increase. It is to be hoped that those in tune with the market will understand it.”

About three percent of all properties in Greater Victoria will receive the letters, said Whyte.

The highest assessments in Greater Victoria are expected to be in Victoria, Saanich, Sidney and Oak Bay. Typical strata residential increases will be in the five to 25 per cent range, Whyte added.

 

Be wary of property assessments, warns a Sooke realtor

Last week, B.C. Assessment said many single-family homes in Greater Victoria, including Sooke, will probably face hikes of up to 40 per cent next year.

But for Royal LePage realtor Tammi Dimock, there’s no “rhyme or reason” on how the assessments are calculated.

Appraisers analyze current sales in the local area, as well as the property’s size, age, quality, condition, view and location, said B.C. Assessment in a written statement.

“Fundamentally, they don’t even come out a check house anymore, they just ride what the market is saying,” Dimock said. “B.C. Assessment hasn’t been a player for a while.”

The result? Two exact houses next door to each other can see a price difference as much as $80,000. The difference is that the house that sold more recently will have a current market value.

Dimock doesn’t blame the staff at B.C. Assessment. It comes down to a staffing issue.

“They do a good job, but everyone has to work within their means,” Dimock said.