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Assessments show stable home values

Stability continues to settle over local property assessments in the Nanaimo area compared to the mid-2000s, but a slight downward trend is beginning to show signs of momentum.

Prior to the 2008 recession, Nanaimo’s real estate market saw assessment gains up to 20 per cent annually for several years in a row.

That trend stopped in 2010 with sales slowing while property values increased marginally, resulting in slower development.

Newly released assessments for 2013 by B.C. Assessment reveal modest changes of minus 10 per cent to positive five per cent in the Nanaimo region,  according to Bill MacGougan, Vancouver Island regional assessor.

“If there is any shift at all it is down but it is so small we wouldn’t call it a shift,” said MacGougan. “But yes, looking across the board in most markets we’re seeing very minor decreases.”

2013 assessments have been mailed out to nearly 48,000 property owners throughout Nanaimo, Lantzville and surrounding rural areas. Those with access to e-post at www.bcassessment.ca can view their assessment now.

In Nanaimo, the average cost of a single-family dwelling as of the July 1 valuation date was $322,200, down from $331,300 the year before and $334,000 in 2010.

In Lantzville, an average single-family dwelling is down to $374,900 from $399,300 in 2012.

Overall, the area’s taxable residential assessment roll is $14.5 billion, with $192 million in new residential value being added due to changes including subdivision, rezoning and new construction.

Commercial property assessments have also changed in the minus 10 per cent to positive five per cent range, with a total assessment roll of $1.9 billion, and a total of almost $83 million in new commercial value added.

Still, residential properties account for 90 per cent of the area’s assessment roll.

“When these notices come out people may be thinking all sorts of different things but the fact is their biggest asset is holding its value and this (assessment role) is confirmation of that,” said MacGougan.

Brian Clemens, director of finance for the City of Nanaimo, said once the city receives an accumulation of all of the assessment notices, it can calculate an average change citywide.

Once that is done, it can input the values into the online property tax calculator at www.nanaimo.ca so residents can determine what their 2013 property taxes will be before Homeowner Grant and other adjustments.

The calculator is expected to have the new 2013 values calibrated into it later this month.

“Basically, the rule is if your (assessment) change is the average change, then your tax increase is the average tax increase,” said Clemens. “So if council approves the budget we’ve presented, which it hasn’t yet, then at this point a property with an average change in assessment would see an increase of 3.3 per cent.”

Council is in the early stages of finalizing the 2013 budget, which, by law, has to be passed by May 15. The property tax rate increase could change through the process depending on the services council wishes to provide for the $89.7 million the city says it requires to collect in taxes to deliver those services.

“We manipulate the tax rate to go with the assessment to collect the amount of money that we need,” said Clemens.

The city’s provisional budget is $175.7 million. Overall, the city is poised to collect 2.6 per cent more tax revenue for 2013 than it did in 2012 for the same properties once revenue from new construction is factored in. Property owners who feel that their property assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2012 or find incorrect information on their notice are encouraged to call the Nanaimo B.C. Assessment office at 250-753-6621 as soon as possible, said MacGougan. If there is still a concern after speaking to an appraiser, a notice of complaint can be submitted by Jan. 31, which will then go before an independent property assessment panel.

Property taxes are due by July 1. The city’s portion is about 60 per cent, with the balance collected by the city on behalf of the regional district, school district, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, public libraries and B.C. Assessment.

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