Assessment value increases in Valley

The value of houses in the Comox Valley exceeds $5.2 billion — compared to $4.975 billion last year — according to the latest figures from BC Assessment.

The 2011 assessment roll pegs the average value of a single-family dwelling in Courtenay at close to $315,000, a $20,000 increase from the previous year.

In Comox, houses are valued at an average of $325,200, also a $20,000 jump from the 2010 assessment roll.

In Cumberland, single family units have jumped from $245,000 to $260,000 over the past year.

While strata condominiums in Courtenay and Comox are worth a little less, the assessment office says commercial properties in the Valley have increased in value.

“Most homeowners in Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland will see modest changes in the range of minus-five per cent to plus-10 per cent from the 2010 assessment roll,” Vancouver Island regional assessor Bill MacGougan said in a news release.

For the first time in the history of the province, according to BC Assessment, the total value of all 1.9 million real estate properties on the assessment roll has surpassed $1 trillion.

Ray Francis, past-president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, suggests the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Essentially for homeowners, a higher value means higher property taxes.

“I don’t see the market has increased in relation to what the assessments have,” said Francis, who is curious as to how BC Assessment came up with the numbers. “I know from a realtor’s point of view that our market has not increased 10 per cent.

“In fact, according to the stats of our real estate board, the Comox Valley dropped four per cent last year in value. Seeing it on the front lines, we can see that, in order for people to sell, they’ve had to reduce the prices and become more realistic.”

As an example, he has not been able to sell a condo after dropping the price to $159,000. The owner had paid $194,000.

Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2010, which “ensures an equitable property assessment base for property taxation,” BC Assessment said.

Changes in property assessments reflect movement in the real estate market and can vary from property to property. Values are based on sales, as well as size, age, quality, condition, view and location.

“Maybe this was a year of reassessment for everybody,” said Francis, who notes current market conditions favour buyers. “It’s a good time for people to put their houses on the market because there’s not a lot of competition right now. Things are selling. December and January have been very brisk for us.”

Property owners can expect to receive their 2011 assessment notice in the next few days. Those who feel their assessment does not reflect market value or who see incorrect information are advised to contact the office indicated on their notice as soon as possible.

Those still concerned after speaking to an appraiser can submit an appeal by Jan. 31.

The Courtenay Assessment Office is at 2488 Idiens Way. Office hours in January are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

BC Assessment provides a listing of property assessments and sales at Click on the e-valueBC link. Copies of neighbourhood assessments are also available at area offices, and at most municipal halls and government agent’s offices.

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