Rise in assessments seems out of line

Hundreds of Oak Bay homes see assessments climb by more than 20 per cent

A rise in a home’s value is something every homeowner can appreciate. But when that increase is merely on paper and it actually comes at a cost, that appreciation can quickly turn to skepticism.

And there are likely more than a few very skeptical homeowners in Oak Bay at the moment. Deputy area assessor Greg Wood said assessments would rise by more than 20 per cent on an estimated 200 to 250 properties in Oak Bay. This at a time when most properties in Greater Victoria saw less than a three per cent change in their assessed value.

“The majority of residential homeowners will observe a modest assessment change compared to last year’s assessment,” said Reuben Danakody, regional assessor.

So what was different about the properties in Oak Bay. Russell Freethy is at a loss to explain it, and he lives in a home where the assessed value climbed by more than 27 per cent. Freethy has been combing through previous assessments and recent sales data to find a reason for the increase and has been unsuccessful. He was told by someone at B.C. Assessment that the significant increases were limited to larger lots, but Freethy’s research shows no reason for that and Wood said the issue is more complex.

While the formula for assessments may be complicated, the simple truth is that property values aren’t increasing anywhere close to 20 per cent a year. The Victoria Real Estate Board reports the benchmark value on homes rose just under three per cent.

Those figures add up, and better than that, they’re backed up by real statistics. The average assessment for a home in Oak Bay went to $686,000 in July 2014. That seems reasonable, it’s how B.C. Assessment got there that’s providing more questions than answers.

In fact, the one thing we can be sure of is that B.C. Assessment office can expect to be fielding a few calls from Oak Bay residents appealing their decision. Property owners can contact B.C. Assessment toll-free at 1-866-825-8322 or online by clicking “Connect” at  www.bcassessment.ca.