Don't agree with your 2012 property assessment? You have until Jan. 31 to appeal.
Reuben Danakody, Greater Victoria area assessor with B.C. Assessment, suggests property owners with questions contact the office before filing a complaint because the issues can often be settled this way.
Last year, more than 98 per cent of property owners accepted their assessments without appealing, the agency said.
Appeals must be in writing. Forms are available on B.C. Assessment's website or from its offices.
B.C.'s 75 property assessment review panels hold hearings between Feb. 1 and March 15.
Assessors are available to speak with callers and the office has a commitment to returning calls within 48 hours, Danakody said. The phone number is 250-479-7131.
Assessments are based on several factors, including nearby sales, age, condition and quality of the property as well as views, location, zoning changes and services in the area.
Assessed values of properties reflect a snapshot in time - and that time was last year.
When real estate agents develop a selling price for a home, recent sales of similar properties are more relevant than assessments, said Ray Blender, Re/Max Camosun general manager.
Assessed values are being mailed to property owners throughout the province this week, showing what B.C. Assessment pegged as the market value of a property as of July 1, 2011, and its physical condition in October.
"It's very difficult to say they have any bearing because they are taken in July, a year before," Blender said.
"Assessments don't have the same kind of weight that actual sales do."
Owners can go to the B.C. Assessment website (www.bcassessment.bc.ca) and click on the e-valueBC box to look at 2011 sales for a market comparison and to check values of other nearby homes. This information is also available at the local Assessment office, in Victoria at 102-3350 Douglas St., which is open between 8: 30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
As for property taxes, changes in assessment do not necessarily equate to a similar change at tax time. For example, an increase above a tax rate would most likely be seen if a property's assessed value came in higher than the average seen in its municipality.
New this year is something called a quick response code, a type of barcode that looks like a blotchy square and appears on notices. A compatible smartphone or other mobile device with a QR code reader application can be used to obtain information from B.C. Assessment via the QR code. The public agency also uses social media.
In addition, British Columbians with homes worth up to $1.285 million may be eligible to receive the entire homeowners' grant this year, now that the threshold has again increased due to rising property values.
In Greater Victoria, this grant provides a maximum reduction of $570 in residential property taxes on principal residences.
For more information and to look up a specific property, go to www.bcassessment.ca
The assessment office is located at Suite 102-3350 Douglas Street in Victoria. During the month of January, office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. The telephone number is 250-479-7131 or toll free at 1-800-990-1159.
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