Joanne Lee-Young, The Province, January 04, 2017
Dramatic gains in assessed property values across B.C. mean twice as many homeowners as last year will no longer qualify for tax relief via the province’s homeowner grant program.
That’s because their homes are — on paper, in a snapshot captured at July 2016 — worth too much.
This year, only 83 per cent of homeowners in B.C. will qualify for a grant as the province’s program currently exists, according to information provided by Landcor Data Corp. Last year, 91 per cent of all homes in the province were covered.
The property tax relief offers $570 to owners of properties worth less than $1.2 million. The grants were designed to help property owners who have modest means deal with sharp increases in assessments and the province has, in the past, tinkered with the thresholds.
Last year, the province increased the threshold from $1.1 million to $1.2 million. It also increased the cutoff for receiving no grant assistance from $1.25 million to $1.314 million. These adjustments allowed the province to ensure that 91 per cent of B.C. homeowners received the grant. Two years prior, the province used limits that made 95 per cent of homeowners in B.C. eligible.
According to Landcor, only 2.5 per cent of detached homes in Vancouver are now under $1.2 million compared to almost a third of them last year. For all types of housing in Vancouver, the percentage of properties under $1.2 million dropped from around 65 per cent last year to 50 per cent.
In Metro Vancouver, the number of detached homes under $1.2 million dropped from just over 70 per cent last year to 45 per cent. The number of detached homes over $1.314 million rose from 24 per cent to 48 per cent.
“The gains in assessments this year are the biggest one I have ever seen,” said Landcor president Rudy Nielsen. “I personally feel that the government needs to look at the grant and there needs to be some adjustment.”
In Burnaby, the percentage of homes valued below $1.2 million fell from 51 per cent of the total in 2016 to seven per cent this year. The percentage of homes worth more than $1.314 million increased from 32 per cent in 2016 to 83 per cent in 2017.
In the City of North Vancouver, the percentage of homes valued under $1.2 million fell from 67 per cent in 2016 to five per cent this year. The percentage of homes worth more than $1.314 million increased from 20 per cent to 86 per cent.
Richmond saw some stark changes too, with the percentage of homes valued under $1.2 million falling from 65 per cent in 2016 to 10 per cent this year. The percentage of homes worth more than $1.314 million increased from 28 per cent to 81 per cent.
A jump of between 30 to 50 per cent in typical home values from Squamish to the Fraser Valley this year will impact a much wider swath of property owners across the province whereas the impact of last year’s spike in prices was more confined to areas around Metro Vancouver.
In the North Fraser, 30,368 homes crossed the $1 million mark in assessed value. In Richmond and Delta, the number was 20,181 homes. Surrey and White Rock saw 23,659 homes move into the $1 million value territory. In Vancouver, the number was 16,401. In the Fraser Valley, 8,908 homes were newly minted $1 million properties. The count for the North Shore to Squamish, 10,642 homes were added to the list of those above $1 million.