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Victoria (Capital Region) Property Tax Assessments


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#61 gumgum

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 06:59 PM

Bernard, I would suggest delete your phone number. You never know who will get hold of it.

#62 skeptic

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 07:28 PM

We are seriously considering appealing because both of our neighbours (on either side of us, on a cul de sac) are about $150-200 000 less than ours. While ours was built in 2008, theirs in late 1990s, they both have been gutted and are on-par with our finishings, size, etc.

I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago, and had a lengthy discussion with an assessor. He told me all I could do was appeal my neigbors' assessments as being too low. He said my chance of having my assessment lowered was zero because I had bought a one-year-old house and the purchase price was the basis of the assessment. He acknowledged that my neighbors' (much older) houses lagged in assessment relative to market value simply because they were quite old (40+ years).

I didn't appeal my neighbors' assessments, not wanting to be the least popular guy on my street. However, in the subsequent three years, the increases in my assessments were much lower than those of my neighbors, and the inequity has been mostly eliminated. For a couple of years my property tax bill was going down because my assessment increase lagged the municipal average.

The assessment process is computer-driven. I believe the assessor put a flag in the file against my house instructing the algorithms to slow down the increases in assessment relative to my neighbors. I don't know for sure, but it was a hell of a coincidence that after my chat with the assessor the situation started to right itself. I suggest you call the assessment office and talk to them--perhaps you can get a similar result.

#63 G-Man

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 08:02 PM

Ours went up 28 000 but that seems okay we have made some improvements.

#64 phx

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 08:39 PM

My assessment notice says I have one bathroom, though I actually have 1.5. If I appeal, and the assessor makes an inspection, how much do you think the 0.5 bathroom could add to the value?

It's not much of a bathroom. It's 2.5 feet by 7 feet, with basic quality finishing.

#65 Bernard

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:29 PM

My assessment notice says I have one bathroom, though I actually have 1.5. If I appeal, and the assessor makes an inspection, how much do you think the 0.5 bathroom could add to the value?

It's not much of a bathroom. It's 2.5 feet by 7 feet, with basic quality finishing.


Bathrooms are measured by how many pieces they have. A full bathroom has a toilet, sink, bathrub and shower. Each one is 1/4 of a bathroom. A full new bathroom would be worth about $20,000 to $30,000 depending on finish. A toilet and sink in a basement that had very little done to it would be worth a few grand at most.

#66 Bernard

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:35 PM

I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago, and had a lengthy discussion with an assessor. He told me all I could do was appeal my neigbors' assessments as being too low. He said my chance of having my assessment lowered was zero because I had bought a one-year-old house and the purchase price was the basis of the assessment. He acknowledged that my neighbors' (much older) houses lagged in assessment relative to market value simply because they were quite old (40+ years).

I didn't appeal my neighbors' assessments, not wanting to be the least popular guy on my street. However, in the subsequent three years, the increases in my assessments were much lower than those of my neighbors, and the inequity has been mostly eliminated. For a couple of years my property tax bill was going down because my assessment increase lagged the municipal average.

The assessment process is computer-driven. I believe the assessor put a flag in the file against my house instructing the algorithms to slow down the increases in assessment relative to my neighbors. I don't know for sure, but it was a hell of a coincidence that after my chat with the assessor the situation started to right itself. I suggest you call the assessment office and talk to them--perhaps you can get a similar result.


Your house will be classified by age, style, neighbourhood, quality of construction and size. You may simply be in a very different category from your neighbours. Based on sales within each possible category, all the other houses are adjusted in value.

If all your neighbours are low, it is the responsibility of BC Assessment to fix that error, but that is only the case if they are off by more than 5%. BC Assessment is not supposed to have any systemic errors for a whole street.

I would launch an appeal and then request a list of comparable sales from BC Assessment, it is good to see which houses they say are the same as yours. From this set you can see what is the same to your house and what is not. Each comparable sale will need to be adjusted to reflect the value your house would have. It is these adjustments that they should explain to you and is what you can easily negotiate on.

#67 Bernard

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:37 PM

Ours went up 28 000 but that seems okay we have made some improvements.


Do they know about the improvements? In general a $500,000 house in the CRD will have risen by about $25,000 if nothing was done to it. They may not have factored in your improvement.

#68 skeptic

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 06:16 PM

Your house will be classified by age, style, neighbourhood, quality of construction and size. You may simply be in a very different category from your neighbours. Based on sales within each possible category, all the other houses are adjusted in value.

If all your neighbours are low, it is the responsibility of BC Assessment to fix that error, but that is only the case if they are off by more than 5%. BC Assessment is not supposed to have any systemic errors for a whole street.

The classification system is pretty course -- and the assessor admitted that in times of rapid rises in market price older houses lag and take longer to catch up than new construction. In other words, he admitted that older houses are systemically under-appraised if values are rising quickly.

#69 Barra

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 11:54 PM

I spoke to someone in my building with a 1 bedroom suite that has been assessed for $166,000 - less than what she paid for it (less than 5 yrs ago), and far below the market rates for this building. The suite has not deteriorated. Questions will be asked.

This kind of thing can be alarming for people who are relying on the value of their property to determine their net worth.
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#70 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:18 AM

I spoke to someone in my building with a 1 bedroom suite that has been assessed for $166,000 - less than what she paid for it (less than 5 yrs ago), and far below the market rates for this building. The suite has not deteriorated. Questions will be asked.

This kind of thing can be alarming for people who are relying on the value of their property to determine their net worth.


She is going to ask for an increase in her assessment, so she can pay more tax?
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#71 G-Man

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:23 AM

Well it does impact your ability to sell. Most buyers won't go much above 15 % of an assessed value.

#72 Bob Fugger

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 12:36 PM

Well it does impact your ability to sell. Most buyers won't go much above 15 % of an assessed value.


Care to qualify "most?" I think you're flat out wrong, quite frankly. Given that the assessment can be up to 18 months old, periods of extremely high or low activity render it rather useless. If it was useful, mortgage lenders would use that figure, rather than taking on (or passing along) the added expense of a fair market value assessment by an independent appraiser.

#73 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 12:39 PM

Well it does impact your ability to sell. Most buyers won't go much above 15 % of an assessed value.


I don't understand that either. They compare the price with comparable other units for sale nearby, or across town. It could be assessed at 20% under or 20% over what they pay, I don't see that entering into it too much.

I bet most buyers don't even look at the BCAA figure until they are in the very final stages of choosing one place.
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#74 G-Man

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 02:31 PM

I always have, perhaps I am wrong but I sure would not want my assessed value to drop.

#75 gumgum

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 04:22 PM

It's only looked at as much during a flat market.

#76 Bernard

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 10:42 AM

She is going to ask for an increase in her assessment, so she can pay more tax?


There are people that appeal their assessment so that they can get a higher value. Normally this is done by people in business that need a higher value asset to leverage

#77 Bernard

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 10:47 AM

Well it does impact your ability to sell. Most buyers won't go much above 15 % of an assessed value.


Few people look at the history of an assessment for a property. If/when I were to buy next, I would want to see the full BC Assessment file on any property and I would pull all the building permits. The BC Assessment file can hold some very interesting history of the house that the owner may not be disclosing.

The assessment can be up to 18 months old, but that is only in December of any given year. The majority of people are in the market in the first six months of a year and so the assessment is not that far off the mark. It becomes an issue in a market that is rising or falling quickly.

The current market in Greater Victoria is slow enough that the assessed value is reasonably accurate even at the end of the 18 months

As to what people will offer to buy a place for, there is no set formula I know of.

#78 Bernard

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 11:00 AM

The classification system is pretty course -- and the assessor admitted that in times of rapid rises in market price older houses lag and take longer to catch up than new construction. In other words, he admitted that older houses are systemically under-appraised if values are rising quickly.


I think you are not reading him right. The way BC Assessment classifies houses means all the older houses would be compared to what the prices the same houses sell for. What he was saying to you is that in a rising market new house prices rise faster than older houses. He is saying that the price the houses are selling for is lagging not anything to do with the assessments.

The system of classification is about as broad as you can get and still have enough houses in any category to allow for comparable sales.

Quality of construction - it ranges through about 6 or 7 levels if I remember correctly
Style of house - how many floors, above or below ground etc, there are many styles in their system
Age of house - there is an assumed rate of depreciation of the value of the construction over time. This rate is driven by the value of sales of houses the same age. They have broad 'eras' for houses.

In the end there are something like 150 or more classifications for a single family homes.

The land value of the property is then amended based on the location. A busy street drops values, being in a Cul-de-Sac raises. A view raises values and they can be a partial view or a full view and what the view is off matters as well. One reason you can get your assessment lowered is if you had a view, or partial view, and something is blocking it now.

The BC Assessment system is sophisticated and complex, it is the single best system out there to value properties in BC. Their goal is 97% of market value (the other 3% are to allow for things like fridge, range, washer, dryer etc in house). They are ok with a range from 95% to 105% of market value.

In the years I was on PARP here in Victoria I was part of a panel that heard about 300 to 400 appeals a year. Less than 1/4 were successful and normally they were successful because there was an error in BC Assessment's assumptions about the property.

When the market was rising very fast the data points for market comparison had a large variation and this allowed for more interpretation as to what the value could be.

Less than 1/4 of the appeals actually reached us, the other 3/4s were settled by agreement between BC Assessment and the owner. We simply confirmed their agreement.

#79 skeptic

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 11:57 AM

I think you are not reading him right. The way BC Assessment classifies houses means all the older houses would be compared to what the prices the same houses sell for. What he was saying to you is that in a rising market new house prices rise faster than older houses. He is saying that the price the houses are selling for is lagging not anything to do with the assessments.

I don't think I was misinterpreting him. Next door to me is a larger (albeit older) house with a 3x larger lot, which at that time was assessed at $250K less than my house. The assessor admitted it didn't make sense but insisted that all I could successfully do would be appeal my neighbor's assessment as too low. What I said is almost verbatim what he said to me -- older houses lag in assessed value if values are rising fast. With so much of the assessed values in South Oak Bay in the land, the age of the house is only a minor factor in the total.

#80 Bernard

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:09 PM

I don't think I was misinterpreting him. Next door to me is a larger (albeit older) house with a 3x larger lot, which at that time was assessed at $250K less than my house. The assessor admitted it didn't make sense but insisted that all I could successfully do would be appeal my neighbor's assessment as too low. What I said is almost verbatim what he said to me -- older houses lag in assessed value if values are rising fast. With so much of the assessed values in South Oak Bay in the land, the age of the house is only a minor factor in the total.


That is an odd thing of him to say you and does not jive with how the assessment system works.

You do not need to appeal your neighbours assessment, you just need to make BC Assessment aware there is an error. Nothing will change for this year but your neighbours should be closer to you next year.

I think it is worth you appealing and get a full list of comparable sales, the $250K is too far off, way too far on the surface of it. I suspect your house is likely too high and the comparable sales would show this.

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