The West Shore is showing a modest increase in assessment values for 2016, with experts attributing some of that growth to the abundance of new developments around the area, such as this neighbourhood on Gala Court, off Happy Valley Road in Langford.

The West Shore is showing a modest increase in assessment values for 2016, with experts attributing some of that growth to the abundance of new developments around the area, such as this neighbourhood on Gala Court, off Happy Valley Road in Langford.

Assessments cranked up a notch for West Shore

Property valuations reflect sales, but increased supply helps limit hikes

West Shore homeowners and other property holders can expect their 2016 property assessment notices to land on their doorsteps over the course of the next several days, if they haven’t already done so.

While most West Shore communities saw an increase in their assessment roll, a few areas did see a drop despite the overall growth of the region.

“It’s a modest increase,” said Reuben Danakody, B.C. Assessment Authority regional assessor for Greater Victoria. He added that West Shore communities were starting to regain some momentum lost in the years following 2010 due to the recession. “For the first time (since then), we’re seeing some modest growth year after year.”

Last year was the first to see that moderate recovery, he said. Overall, this year’s growth for the Capital Region is sitting at between two to eight per cent.

Victoria Real Estate Board President Wendy Moreton said the West Shore may not see the same increases in property assessments as other areas of the region, due to demand in the market. And sales play a large role in determining assessment figures.

“The price increases were driven in the core (municipalities) by limited product and demand,” she said, adding the West Shore didn’t see as much of that in terms of limited supply.

A factor that may have helped meet some of that demand, she noted, was a growing variety of housing options on the West Shore.

That factor could also work against local neighbourhoods, leading to smaller increases or even decreases in their assessments, Danakody said.

And slight decreases or flat assessments in areas on the West Shore could be due to their uniqueness – not all areas appeal to a wide variety of buyers, he said – or the limited number of properties, in places such as Highlands.

“It’s really tough to comment on what the buyer’s motivation is,” Danakody said. “(Vancouver Island) has so many communities that are so unique.”

Some areas that saw a much higher than average increase in their assessments in the previous year, may see a lower than average jump for 2016 as the market balanced in the area.

While Moreton said it is too early to tell if this year’s market will follow last year’s in terms of demand outweighing supply, she did expect the year to be a positive one.

“In general the economic outlook for the region is pretty positive,” she said. (board past-president Guy Crozier expands on that topic in this week’s Homefinder story, page A21)

Danakody noted “investors (are) regaining confidence in the local housing market,” which he attributed to some of the growth in the area.

He pointed out that doesn’t necessarily mean a direct increase in a property owner’s municipal tax bill.

As Langford director of finance Steve Ternent explained, “Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between the assessment notices coming out and the tax notices.” With a roughly five-month gap in receipt of the two documents, he said, some residents are left wondering in January what an increase in their assessment value will mean in terms of their property tax bill.

While a higher assessment doesn’t necessarily correspond to a property tax hike, he said, a significant increase over the previous year or over the average in a certain neighbourhood (all assessments are available online), will likely see an increase in one’s property tax.

Danakody said the addition of a structure, such as a garage or a suite on a property, could result in a higher than average increase to a home.

But in Langford, Ternent said, the City looks at the overall averages. “We only deal in averages, we can’t set an individual rate for each property,” he said.

A number of factors other than assessment values influence property tax rates, he said. “We have control over about 45 per cent of taxes levied.” The rest are collected by the City on behalf of other agencies and authorities. If one of those parties passes on a hefty bill to the City, it could be forced to raise taxes to cover it – even if there is an overall decline in assessment values.

Ternent noted the City has yet to determine whether taxes will go up this year.

For property owners concerned about their assessment values, Danakody said the first step is to go to B.C. Assessment’s newly enhanced website to access more information.

E-valueBC is a free online service that can be accessed from bcassessment.ca to find more information about comparable or neighbouring properties. If you cannot access the site or would like more information, phone 1-866-825-8322 to speak with an appraiser. Formal notices of appeal or complaints must be filed by Feb. 1.

Although Danakody noted that provincewide appeals are filed for less than two per cent of properties, and in the Capital Region that number is just over one per cent.

For more information, including details about 2016 assessments, property information and trends, go to bcassessment.ca.

Where does your municipality fit in?

Estimates of typical single-family residential detached homes throughout the region saw a number of increases in assessed values as of July 1, 2015.

A sparsely populated area in View Royal (within the boundaries of the Sooke School District) saw the largest increase on the West Shore, up $20,500 to $612,500 in 2016. However, the larger portion of View Royal, within the Greater Victoria School District boundaries, had one of the smallest increases, jumping $2,800 up to $509,200.

The District of Highlands (SD62) was the only overall area on the West Shore to see a decrease in the assessment roll, with a drop of $17,200 to $517,800 for 2016. The District of Highlands (SD61), however, saw an increase of $2,500 to $469,800.

The typical single-family detached home in the District of Metchosin came in at roughly $525,700 (up $8,900), followed by the City of Colwood at $435,700 (up $15,100) and the City of Langford at $420,200 (up $16,700).

Overall, Vancouver Island’s total assessments increased to $170.15 billion this year from $163.96 billion in 2015.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

Goldstream News Gazette