Digital eyes spark assessment spikes
By John McDonald
January 09, 2015 - 12:03 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN — If your 2015 property assessment is up drastically, blame it on slightly creepy technology. B.C Assessment says Interior real estate has jumped in value by almost $2 billion and some of those price hikes are the fruit of last summer’s push into the Interior using digital photo vans and enhanced aerial photography to update assessments many times faster than before.
Property-owners are opening their assessment letters to find valuation increases averaging 5.4 per cent, with some enjoying jumps of as much as 10 percent. The Central Okanagan Assessment Roll climbed to $42.3 billion from $40.4 billion with average residential valuations climbing to $521,000 from $491,000. In Kamloops the roll climbed $500 million to $14.6 billion while the North Okanagan went up to just over $27 million and the South Okanagan jumped to almost $19.8 million.
“It’s amazing stuff. We can take a look under porch roofs that might have been filled in. We can look at garages to see if they’ve been converted, “ said deputy assessor Graham Held. “We can virtually inspect a property for renovations and additions built without permit.”
That can mean a big jump in both a home’s value, which is great if you are selling. But it can also mean a big jump in your property tax bill. Knowing this, Held says property owners with larger-than-normal increases - in the Central Okanagan’s case, 15 per cent - will be given additional warnings.
“We would hate for them to ignore it until right when the tax is due,” he added.
Even if the new technology has caught up to them, Held said all homeowners, regardless of whether their assessment has gone up or down, are entitled to appeal the valuation, with a cut off date this year of Feb. 2.
“We encourage everyone to take a look at the number and use the tools available,” he added. “If you have a question or concern, you don’t have to accept it. Let us know if it doesn’t look right.”
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