Home owners throughout B.C. should be preparing for a sharp rise in their property assessments, with the Thompson-Okanagan region seeing an average increase of 30 per cent or more over last year in many communities, including Ashcroft and Cache Creek.
This year’s notices are in the process of being mailed out, but the BC Assessment Authority has updated its online mapping to reflect the 2022 assessments, which are based on market values as of July 2021. It has also issued a report on the state of the real estate market in the Thompson-Okanagan, describing it as “robust” and “resilient”, and stating that most property owners in the Thompson area can expect a “notable” increase for 2022.
According to the report, the typical Ashcroft single family home was assessed at $273,000 as of July 1, 2020. As of July 1, 2021 that figure had risen to $367,000, an increase of 34 per cent. In Cache Creek, assessments have gone from an average of $207,000 in 2020 to $285,000 in 2021 (a 38 per cent increase), and in Clinton the figures have gone from an average of $155,000 in 2020 to $176,000 in 2021 (a 14 per cent increase).
The most expensive real estate in the Thompson region can be found in Sun Peaks, where the average single family home is now assessed at $1,146,000 (up 24 per cent from last year). In Kamloops, the average single family home is assessed at $619,000, up 27 per cent from 2020.
The report acknowledges the impact of wildfires and other disasters in several parts of the Thompson-Okanagan. “Unfortunately, parts of our region have been severely impacted by fires, floods, and landslides,” said Thompson area Deputy Assessor Tracy Shymko. “We are here to help such property owners with possible amendments to their 2022 assessments, and invite any impacted property owners to connect with us if they haven’t already done so.
“If your property was impacted by the 2021 floods, mudslides, or wildfires, please take a few moments to contact us during January once you receive your assessment notice. With your help, we can work together to make sure your property is valued correctly.”
Anyone interested in seeing what their property is valued at, and who does not want to wait for their mailed assessment, can go online at https://bit.ly/3HC8833 and enter their street address. The interactive map also allows users to see what other properties on their street, in their neighbourhood, or in their community are assessed at.
The BC Assessment site has answers to common assessment-related questions, but anyone who feels that their property assessment does not reflect true market value as of July 1, 2021, or who notices incorrect information on their notice, should contact BC Assessment as soon as possible in January. If, after speaking to an appraiser, a property owner is still concerned, they can submit a Notice of Complaint (appeal). This appeal must be filed by Jan. 31, 2022, and will result in an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel. These panels are appointed annually by the provincial government, and typically meet between Feb. 1 and March 15 to hear formal complaints.
Property owners can contact BC Assessment toll-free at 1-866-valueBC (1-866-825-8322) or online at www.bcassessment.ca. During the month of January, hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
According to the B.C. Real Estate Association’s December 2021 Housing Market Update, house prices increased substantially across the province in 2021, driven by high demand as people moved out of the Lower Mainland, a scarcity of available properties in many places, and low interest rates. Rural communities have been hit hard, with little available housing stock for sale and few if any rental properties.
This translates to some new employees in rural areas having to delay their start dates — or pass up on opportunities altogether — due to a lack of housing. In Clinton in 2021, the village’s new community development coordinator had to delay her start date by several weeks due to a lack of housing in the town, finally finding temporary rental accommodation in a local inn.
While an increase of 30 per cent in a property’s assessed value does not translate to a 30 per cent increase in property taxes, the property tax deferment program is available to B.C. homeowners who are 55 years or older, to a surviving spouse of any age, or to eligible persons with disabilities. Deferment is also available for homeowners who are a parent, stepparent, or financially supporting a dependent child.
Property tax deferment is a provincial low-interest loan program that helps qualified homeowners pay their annual property taxes on their principal residence. Taxes can be deferred for any year the homeowner lives in the home and continues to qualify for the program. Eligible homeowners are then able to pay their property taxes at a later date.
There are two options: the Regular Program and the Families with Children Program.
When you defer your annual property taxes, the province charges interest on your tax deferment loan. The current interest rate (in effect until March 31, 2022) is 0.45 per cent for the Regular Program and 2.45 per cent for the Families with Children Program. The deferred taxes are paid to local governments by the province, which recoups the money when the house is sold or transferred.
In order to qualify, your property tax account must be up to date. The program is only applicable to residential class 1 properties; it is not available for secondary residences such as a cottage, summer home, or rental property.
It can take some time to process tax deferral applications, so those interested in taking advantage of the program in 2022 are encouraged to apply as soon as possible; you do not have to wait until you get your property tax bill (mailed out in May) from your local government. Find out if you are eligible for either of the property tax deferment programs at http://bit.ly/2GM7FLP.