Dumbfounded by what she saw on her yearly property valuation assessment, Margo Wood of South Surrey vowed to appeal the assessment for the first time ever. A rental property she owns in White Rock jumped 70 per cent in value — from $614,600 at the beginning of 2016 to $1,041,800 now.
Facing a bigger tax burden and other pressures associated with an inflating home value, Wood decided to fight back.
“I’m going to appeal it. It’s such a ridiculous increase.”
Wood is not alone in Surrey, where property values increased 36 percent on average according to Surrey-White Rock’s MLA, Gordon Hogg. The jump has no doubt startled many owners of Fleetwood real estate, and it could affect many people’s decision to buy or sell in the area for many reasons.
Taking Surrey’s Temperature at the Wrong Time?
Margo Wood’s hefty assessment increase is a common story being told in the Fraser Valley area. Assessors sent out early warnings to soften the blow to homeowners in the most affected areas.
According to their data, the average value of a residential, single-family detached home was expected to rise between 30 percent and 50 percent this year. Residential strata units, like condominiums and certain townhomes, rose from 15 percent to 30 percent. Even commercial and industrial properties saw jumps near 30 percent.
These skyward property value increases do not even reflect the actual increases in sales prices. Home listing prices actually dipped 19 percent year-over-year in Surrey, according to a Zolo estimate, likely a result of a cooling market responding to the hefty 15 percent foreign property transfer tax.
But, assessments were intended to be accurate as of July 1, before the B.C. Liberal government announced their taxation plan and certainly before the plan went into effect. The assessments sent out to property owners do not reflect the corresponding market correction.
“I think they may have been a little too aggressive this year, thinking the market was going to potentially continue rising,” lamented Steve Miller, a senior appraiser at Bakerview Realty Appraisals. Miller predicts that assessment appeal inquiries from homeowners have spiked 700 to 800 percent this year.
“I imagine their switchboards are lighting up like a Christmas tree.”
Those who do not successfully obtain their appeal may see a correction next January after new assessments are made this summer.
Assessment Increases Won’t Affect Most Homeowner Grants for Fleetwood Real Estate
The silver lining in the property valuation assessment increase story is that most of those fretting about their homeowner’s tax grant need not worry. Last year’s threshold was increased to $1.2 million to reflect rising home values. The province asserts that this threshold covers 91 percent of homes in the entire province.
Provincial officials also asserted that taxes may not go up just because home values have increased. “Cities do not collect a windfall in property taxes when assessments go up,” explains Assessor Jason Grant. “They adjust their tax rates downwards to only collect the funds they require for their operating budgets.”
Nevertheless, those thinking of selling or buying homes in Fleetwood may wish to first consult with an expert realtor highly knowledgeable with the area and real estate trends. They can contact me to learn more about how their home’s market value may change and other vital information for their long-term planning.