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Victoria (Capital Region) Property Tax Assessments


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#1 phx

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 11:31 PM

Being new to the home ownership game, I was a bit surprised at how random assessed values seem to be. I disputed my assessment this past week and got it reduced significantly, though it is still higher than I think it should be. The corresponding reduction in my property taxes will have made it well worth the effort.

The panel that heard my dispute seemed fair and was not intimidating.

Have others here disputed their assessments?

#2 Bernard

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:14 PM

I was one of the panel members for a number of years for single family homes in the Greater Victoria School District.

Honestly, the assessed values are not very random at all, but tend be quite close to realistic market values. In my time on the panel, the vast majority of appeals did not succeed because the assessment was accurate.

Over any given year we would hear several hundred appeals. Many would be accompanied by appraisals and most of these appraisals were not as good as the work done by BC Assessment. In having seen so many appeals I have learned to have a high degree of respect for the work of the assessors and generally trust the values they come up with.

Most appeals are settled before they come before the panel through discussions between the owner and BC Assessment.

One of the biggest problems in the appeal process is that people appeal their assessment but do not come to the panel with any market based evidence showing their assessment is wrong.

The second biggest problem, and often a surprise to the owner, is that their house has more to it than BC assessment knows about and therefore the assessment should be higher. The panel I was on did raise assessments a couple of times based on the evidence presented.

The third biggest problem is that the BC Assessment system is a mass assessment system and does make errors because a house may be misclassified as to age, condition, or quality of construction. It is worth getting copy of what BC Assessment has on file for your house and checking it. Ask questions if you do not understand part of it.

It is often worth getting the assessor come and take a look at your house - they are supposed to get to each house once every 20-25 years. Their file may contain old house plans, dates on when work was done and for how much, pictures of the house and other interesting facts.

I am also always happy to help anyone with their assessment

#3 victorian fan

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:33 PM

My house has the highest assessment on my street. It's based on the property ( 1/2 acre), not the house.

#4 Bernard

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:47 PM

My house has the highest assessment on my street. It's based on the property ( 1/2 acre), not the house.


Even though house and land values are listed separately, the only number matters if the total value. The division between the two is arbitrary because you can not sell one without the other.

If you have the largest lot on your street, your value may be higher but should not be dramatically higher as you can still only have one house on it (unless it can be subdivided). The variation between a lot of 5000 sq feet and one of 22 000 sq feet is not nearly as dramatic as the size difference is.

#5 arfenarf

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 01:11 PM

Have others here disputed their assessments?


Twice, and both times it was a painless process that never got farther than a meeting with the appraiser. Each time, the house got tangled up in a rising market and was sold close to the July 1 "as of" date: the formulae took the increased value reflected in the recent sale and then tossed that year's x% on top. The second time, the theoretical market value in the assessment was significantly higher than the demonstrated market value in the house's recent, and bona-fide sale.

...and there was no muss, no fuss, the number was changed to one we could all live with, and we were left delighted with the professionalism and customer service approach from BCA.

#6 sebberry

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:02 PM

http://www.bcassessment.bc.ca

Check out your assessed property value, and your neighbors too!

For some reason, my place is assessed at $34,000 above the suite downstairs and $8000 higher than ths suite upstairs. All three are identical suites, with the only difference being the downstairs suite does not have an enclosed balcony and hence less sq. ft.

I can see however that the suite upstairs sold for $113,000 more than I got mine for. Serves him right for being so noisy :P

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#7 AllseeingEye

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:31 PM

Yep, BCA actually had them posted online last night as I was checking it out ~ 11:30 pm.

My Fairfield/Cook Street condo is way up, at a few pennies under $400K. It has by far the highest assessed value in my building and in fact among several in the immediate area. No surprise given its size, the fact its a south east corner suite and the unimpeded view of the Olympics and Beacon Hill Park, etcetera. As they say location, location, location is (almost) everything. Can't wait for the tax bill.....

#8 sebberry

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:39 PM

Yep, BCA actually had them posted online last night as I was checking it out ~ 11:30 pm.

My Fairfield/Cook Street condo is way up, at a few pennies under $400K. It has by far the highest assessed value in my building and in fact among several in the immediate area. No surprise given its size, the fact its a south east corner suite and the unimpeded view of the Olympics and Beacon Hill Park, etcetera. As they say location, location, location is (almost) everything. Can't wait for the tax bill.....


And here I was being careful not to brag ;)

There are 3 suites on one corner of my building that are larger and have a MUCH better layout than the rest of the suites. They feel like a part of a different building, or at least had a different designer.

Those ones always get the highest assessments. Mine usually is third place on my floor out of 9.

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#9 AllseeingEye

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 10:32 PM

Seberry, like mine those 3 suites in your building may have been the original developer suites; which is why in my case the suite is much larger and has features that others here do not, i.e. 2 levels including a loft/office, extra skylights and a hand crafted staircase with wooden railings instead of the usual wrought iron spiral style in the other units in my building.

#10 snub

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:05 PM

has features that others here do not, i.e. 2 levels including a loft/office, extra skylights and a hand crafted staircase with wooden railings instead of the usual wrought iron spiral style in the other units in my building.



So did they actually come inside and have a look? I think....not. So how did they they know your place was better than the others? I would check for hidden cameras.:D

#11 sebberry

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:07 PM

Seberry, like mine those 3 suites in your building may have been the original developer suites; which is why in my case the suite is much larger and has features that others here do not, i.e. 2 levels including a loft/office, extra skylights and a hand crafted staircase with wooden railings instead of the usual wrought iron spiral style in the other units in my building.


They could be. The one I saw (and the others are the same) bore zero resemblance to the rest of the suites in the building. Mine is chock full of weird angles, bedrooms placed side-by-side and an awkward layout. The others make much more sense layout and space-use wise.

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#12 phx

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:17 PM

The assessment on my house went up significantly, while the rest in the neighbourhood only slightly. :confused:

I may be appealing again this year.

#13 G-Man

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 07:35 AM

My place went up one thousand dollars!

#14 arfenarf

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 07:49 AM

My place sank from 700 to 670. It's now the cheapest house on my little Rockland street.

There's comfort knowing you own the crummiest house in a posh neighbourhood.

I suppose my nefarious plan of letting the lawn die off is working :)

But, seriously: is it human nature to let me ego be dented at the same time I celebrate a lower tax bill?

#15 Holden West

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 08:19 AM

My place went up one thousand dollars!


I spotted you this summer doing outside improvements (using underage labour!). That must be it.
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#16 victorian fan

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 09:54 AM

I have the highest property value on the street. Large lot.

#17 RPPB

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 10:20 AM

My Swan Lake condo is on the top (4th) floor and is assessed at $261,000 but the identically sized unit below us is $276,000 and the 2nd floor one is $267,000. In addition, we have the largest one on our floor (and one of the best views) but all the other 2 bedroom units on it are assessed $11,000 - $20,000 higher?? I think someone's tipped them off that we haven't started the renos yet. Oh well, can't complain about paying less tax...

#18 G-Man

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 10:41 AM

It was my understanding that your tax rate is not necessarily tied to your home assessment.

#19 AllseeingEye

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 11:02 AM

You are correct G-man; the very general rule of thumb is that if the properties in the immediate vicinity of yours all (including you) rise at roughly the same % rate in terms of assessed value then the city will typically respond by raising the mill rate for all in corresponding fashion.

If however your property a$$e$$ment spikes, relative to those of the assessed values of surrounding properties, that is usually when the home or property owner will dispute the BCA assessment since that is also when the individual property tax hikes are applied.

#20 CharlieFoxtrot

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 11:03 AM

My assessment dropped by 16K over here in Vic West...

...yippee?

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