News that property assessments will be generally lower in Langley came as a surprise to South Langley resident Else Stockman, who was just notified of yet another increase to her house and lot by BC Assessment.
It raised the assessed value of her 2.39 acre property, located near 200 Street and 18th Avenue, by 20 per cent to more than $2 million.
And, Stockman added, several of her neighbours have also seen hikes, even though Langley Township has recorded an average decrease, in assessed value, of five per cent for single family homes.
What has Stockman baffled is the fact that a neighbour of hers, with a nearly identical lot size and house right next to her, has been assessed $800,000 less.
There are, she estimated, six similar lots in the neighbourhood, all with different valuations.
“It’s crazy,” Stockman commented.
Stockman managed to get a previous increase reduced and she is planning to file another appeal against the latest hike.
“I have no sidewalks, no street lights,” Stockman observed.
“All I get [for my taxes] is garbage pickup.”
Neighbour Aren Van Dyke, a retired developer who lives across the street from Stockman, said he had to wage a time-consuming appeal last year to get most of a $700,000 increase rolled back.
“This year, it’s [the assessment] up four per cent,” Van Dyke noted.
“We won’t be appealing.”
He said there was no obvious different in lot size or the size and condition of the homes in the area that would explain a range in assessed value as big as $800,000.
As well, he said, there have been no property sales in the neighbourhood over the last “seven or eight years.”
“We have six identical properties,’ Van Dyke commented.
“Why is there such a variation? There’s no logical reason.”
Brian Smith, deputy assessor in charge of residential properties in the Lower Mainland, said there are different possible explanations for why, sometimes, similar properties are assessed differently.
“One possibility is an error,” Smith told the Langley Advance Times.
“If something doesn’t look right, we encourage people to contact us.”
Other possibilities Smith cited included a homeowner who is eligible for a exemption under assessment act that reduces their valuation, and using a property for farming purposes even if it isn’t within the agricultural land reserve.
READ MORE: Langley home values dropping: BC Assessments
Langley Township saw an average decrease of five per cent for single family homes, with values dropping from $971,000 to $922,000. Langley City saw a decrease of six per cent from $862,000 to $809,000 for the average house.
Condos and townhouses dropped in value at similar rates. In the Township, assessed values dropped from $561,000 to $531,000, a five per cent decrease. In Langley City, strata homes were down from $396,000 to $369,000, a seven per cent decrease.
Commercial and industrial properties rose in value, according to the projections. Commercial land was up between zero and 10 per cent, while industrial land was up between 10 and 30 per cent over a single year.
While homes in rural Langley remained valued at a high level, they were down from last year.
A one-acre property near D.W. Poppy with a recently built two-storey house was valued this year at $2.1 million, down from $2.3 million in last year’s assessment.
Many other Lower Mainland communities saw similar changes in the early estimates. Homes in Metro Vancouver overall were expected to be down between five and 15 per cent.
Municipal governments adjust their residential tax rate with the aim of raising the same amount of revenue as in the previous year.
If a property increases less than average – or decreases by more than the average – a slight tax decrease is likely.
If value is increasing faster than average – or going up while the average home declines in value – taxes are likely to go up.
People can look up their own home, or any other address, and find out its assessed value through BC Assessment’s online portal at www.bcassessment.ca.
People who disagree with the assessed value of their home can appeal it with BC Assessment.
– with files from Matthew Claxton