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Home-assessment boost ‘mystifies’ Ocean Park resident

Ocean Park resident Sohan Rai was expecting his property assessment for 2012 to go up from the 2011 figure.

He was expecting he might have to argue the figure with BC Assessment – it wouldn’t be the first time. But he wasn’t expecting a hike in value of $223,000.

Last year’s assessment placed the land and building values for his 16-year-old home at $1,301,000. This year’s, it’s at $1,524,000 – a 17.1 per cent increase.

South Fraser Region officials said last week Surrey and White Rock homeowners could expect to see changes in the minus-five per cent to plus-15 per cent range for 2012.

However, deputy assessor Craig Barnsley noted Wednesday it is not unusual for some properties to show an increase of two per cent or even more over the predicted amount.

Although some are registering surprise with assessments this year, “call volumes are not out of line with what we would expect.”

Generally, “less than one per cent” of assessments are disputed, he said.

For Rai, who is mulling an appeal, the increase means he’s now looking at paying around $12,000 in taxes, compared with last year’s bill of $9,000.

Rai said the assessed value of his property has climbed by at least $200,000 in each of the last three years – and he can’t see why, particularly when neighbours spend far more on improvements.

“I’ve been in the building trade for 45 years – I know how much these things cost.”

And even though his three-storey stucco home may look grand, Rai said it was built economically, and he’s never been able to afford to finish it properly.

Rai said he is finding his tax bill harder to meet each year, as he hasn’t been able to work much since he was injured in a car crash seven years ago.

“We’re seeing the value of houses going up and up, but the economy is really low and there are no jobs out there,” he said. “Gas is going up, groceries are going up. I don’t know how the government and the system works. It seems they want to grab the money.”

Rai received his assessment Jan. 3. He is concerned his limited ability to express himself in English could hamper an appeal, in getting across the finer points of his arguments.

Barnsley said owners can speak to supervisors if they disagree with an appraiser.

“We’re all about public service and transparency,” he said.

Property owners who feel their assessment doesn’t reflect market value are urged to contact BC Assessment as soon as possible.

The deadline to appeal is Jan. 31. Visit www.bcassessment.ca or call 604-576-4700.

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