Property values in Fernie have dropped more than anywhere else in the region.
According to the 2012 Assessment rolls just issued by BC Assessment, a home in Fernie that was worth $401,000 last year fell to $371,000 this year, nearly a seven and a half per cent drop.
Property values in the rest of the East Kootenays have remained fairly stable. In Elkford property values dropped by about seven per cent but in Sparwood property values actually increased slightly, by just over one per cent.
An average home in Fernie is now $371,000, in Sparwood, $284,000, and in Elkford $256,000.
“Most homes in the East Kootenay are relatively stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” said Bradley Lane, Kootenay Region Area Assessor. “The majority of home owners in the East Kootenay will see modest changes in the -5 per cent to +5 per cent range.”
He said owners of commercial and industrial properties in the East Kootenay will also see changes in the same range.
Overall, the East Kootenay Assessment Roll remained relatively unchanged at just under $17.7 billion. This value reflects a slight decline in most areas due to market movement as well as approximately $225 million in growth due to subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.
Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2011. This common valuation date ensures there is an equitable property assessment base for property taxation.
Changes in property assessments reflect movement in the local real estate market and can vary greatly from property to property.
When estimating a property’s market value, BC Assessment’s professional appraisers analyze current sales in the area, as well as considering other characteristics such as size, age, quality, condition, view and location.
It is important to remember, said Bradley Lane at BC Assessment in Cranbrook, that the increase or decrease in property values does not reflect what your property tax bill will be.
“When estimating a property’s market value, an appraiser analyzes current sales in the area and other characteristics such as size, age, quality, condition, view and location,” Lane said.
“Later in the spring, taxing authorities (e.g. the provincial and municipal governments), set tax rates that are applied to the property’s assessed value and send the owner a property tax notice. These taxing authorities apply property tax rates to ensure that sufficient revenues are collected to offset the costs of providing for important public services such as schools, hospitals and a variety of other services that benefit communities.
“Often, property owners receiving their assessment will assume that an increase in their property assessment automatically translates into an increase in their property tax bill. This is not necessarily the case, since the determination of local tax rates is ultimately based on the budget requirements of your taxing authority. For example, if property assessments rise, and the costs of your local government remains stable, or even rises slightly, the tax rate can be reduced and still generate the required revenue. Conversely, if property assessments are reduced, and the cost of government remains stable or rises, tax authorities may choose to increase the tax rate to ensure a balanced budget.”
If you feel your property assessment is unfair or incorrect for some reason, you can appeal to BC Assessment. You can also check online at bcassessment.ca to see how similar properties compare to yours.