Assessment jumps will hit Abbotsford condo and townhouse owners

Assessed values of strata units in Abbotsford rose twice as quickly as the city average

Owners of townhouses and condos in Abbotsford will likely end up paying more for property taxes this summer thanks to higher-than-average assessment increases.

BC Assessment released its 2018 property valuations this week, and they show the average assessed value for strata units in Abbotsford has risen by 28 per cent. That compares to just nine per cent for single-family homes and 11 per cent for residential properties across all classes in Abbotsford. Single-family homes in west Abbotsford saw larger increases than those in the city’s east.

Taxes won’t be going up quite that much, because cities calculate tax increases based on the average assessed values. That means a property with a value that goes up by the 11 per cent average will see a tax bump in line with the citywide average – likely between two and four per cent, or around $100 for your average $700,000 house.

But most strata owners will be seeing a much bigger bump in the amount they owe because their assessments have increased faster than the city average.

The owner of a townhouse or apartment, for instance, with a value that increased by the 28 per cent average from $300,000 to $384,000 will see his or her taxes rise by around $300. Many strata owners also saw large increases last year.

All that money, though, doesn’t necessarily wind up in the pockets of the city. A three per cent property tax increase means the city will collect just three per cent more revenue. Much of the new strata tax money will be counterbalanced by smaller increases – or even less tax revenue – from those owners whose properties increased by less than the city average.

Many of those owners will have seen their own large property tax jumps two or three years ago, when house values first began skyrocketing in the Lower Mainland.

That balancing game has been playing out for the last three years of housing market turbulence in the Lower Mainland, with different property types affected at different times by skyrocketing land values. It also prompted a call from Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun last year for the province to take another look at the assessment system.

Braun said the current system is outdated and unfair, pointing to the large fluctuations in tax bills that are out of the hands of local government.

Residents who disagree with their home’s valuation can contact BC Assessment. Appeals can be filed by Jan. 31 and are overseen by an independent review panel. Around one in three sees a change in assessment, deputy assessor Brian Smith told The News last year.

RELATED: Fix B.C.’s outdated property tax system, Abbotsford mayor urges

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