Frequently Asked Questions about BC Tax Assessment Values

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The Ups and Downs of B.C. Assessments

Details for the 2014 Roll are out January 2, 2014.  Some are up. Some are down with no shortage of conflicting opinion as to what the latest property assessments all mean.  Let’s take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions the property owners tend to have with answers provided by the B.C. Assessment Authority.


Q. What is B.C. Assessment?


A. B.C. Assessment is a provincial Crown corporation that classifies and values all real property in British Columbia. On December 31st, B.C. Assessment sends property owners a Property Assessment notice telling them the fair market value of the property as of July 1st of that year. This assessment is the basis used by taxing authorities for determining the share of municipal and provincial property taxes owners will pay.


Q. Why are assessments based on market value?


A. Market value for assessment purposes in British Columbia is the most probable price of a property in an open market between a willing buyer and seller. As such it is considered the fairest system for distributing the property tax burden. Owners of higher valued properties pay higher taxes than the owners of lower valued properties.


Q. How is market value determined?


A. B.C. Assessment appraisers consider each of a property’s unique characteristics as a home buyer would consider such as size, layout, age, finishings, garage size, sundecks, condition of buildings and views. Local services, location and neighbourhood may also affect values. Appraisers may enter a home to conduct inspections and analyze all real estate sales in their area to develop common units of comparison and corresponding values.


Q. Why are the Assessments mailed six months after the valuation date of July 1st?


A. B.C. Assessment’s professional appraisers must review close to two million properties every year and this six month period provides staff with the time they require to ensure the annual assessment roll is as fair and as accurate as possible. In the fall, appraisers also inspect new construction and development, verify the physical condition of each property as of the end of October and verify ownership through the Land Title and Survey Authority by November 30th. Once this information is collected, appraisers complete the final assessment roll in early December.


Q. Why is there a difference between my property’s value on the Assessment Notice, the bank mortgage appraisal and a real estate appraisal?


A. The real estate market is the single biggest influence on market values. Market forces vary from time to time and real estate or bank assessments done outside the July 1st assessment period are likely to vary.  As well, without being physically able to inspect every one of the some 2 million properties in B.C., unrecorded improvements or physical deterioration may lead to variances in valuations.


We know this last point is the primary focus of interest for many homeowners. Increases, as seen in West Vancouver, South Surrey and White Rock, may bolster hopes of those either on the market or intending to be in the near future, while frustrating others in the form of higher taxes. Lower assessments as seen in the West Side, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast may discourage those in the market to sell, while causing others to celebrate as they see their property taxes shrink.


So What to Advise?


As an experienced REALTOR® , I know that an assessed value determined in July of the previous year may reflect little on the current market value of a property for any number of reasons ~ not the least of which being the property was not personally inspected by an assessor, conditions either deteriorated or improved in recent months or market conditions have changed.


The Assessment Authority estimates the majority of homeowners will see a change of less than five per cent either up or down. The public can compare their assessment to others in their neighbourhood free of charge by accessing BCA’s website and its easy-to-use e-valueBC program. Those wishing to challenge their assessment must do so by January 31st.  In reality, few do so. .


For the vast majority there is good news. In response to rising assessments, the government has increased the threshold of the Homeowner Grant by $10,000, meaning that owners of homes in B.C. assessed at up to $1.295,000 – some 95.5 per cent of them - will qualify for the grant.



If you have any real estate questions, or are thinking of buying or selling your home, please contact Joanne Taylor at or

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