Homeowners weary from assessments

Homes in South Surrey and White Rock recently received their property assessments. - Tracy Holmes photo
Homes in South Surrey and White Rock recently received their property assessments.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

More cases of anomalous property assessments have emerged in South Surrey – just prior to today’s deadline for appeals to BC Assessment.

Kenneth Langton, who lives on Marine Drive, says his assessment notice this year was $1,300,700 – a jump of more than 87 per cent from last year’s figure of $694,700.

And Bernie Baumgartel, who lives on the floodplain where Elgin Road crosses the Nicomekl River, has seen his assessment rise nearly 38 per cent, from $1,112,600 to $1,535,400.

Both men say that while nearby building has boosted property values, neither is in a position to redevelop their properties to match the pace of adjacent development.

And even though they apply each year for a reduction under the B.C. Assessment Act – which applies to long-term primary residents on lots less than five acres for which there has been no sales transaction in the last 10 years – they say it doesn’t appear to have had an impact this year.

But Craig Barnsley, deputy assessor for the South Fraser Region, said this week that it’s possible properties can appreciate in value by a large amount, even if valued as single-family residences.

“But if the property has met the test (for a reduction), the assessor will evaluate the property on present use and will not take into consideration the development around it,” he said.

Barnsley reiterated that the best recourse for any property owner is to call the BC Assessment office before today’s appeal deadline.

His statement provides scant relief for Langton and Baumgartel, both of whom have already queried their current assessment.

Baumgartel, who has owned his heritage home for 35 years, said he has filed an online complaint, noting the value of his 2.75-acre property has been inflated by development on two sides of his home.

Langton, who has lived in his home for 45 years, saw the nature of his neighborhood change dramatically two years ago, when development came “right up to the property line.”

While an initial application for relief resulted in a $200,000 reduction, this year’s assessment came in at more than $1.3 million for the 600-square-foot 1943 home, which sits on a 28,000 square-foot (.64 acre) lot.

“The house is valued at $31,000. It’s all about the land,” he said.

Langton said a BC Assessment appraiser cited an increase in prices in the area but said his assessment could be knocked down to $965,000 – a 31 per cent increase.

But he’s still frustrated.

“The property is only worth a lot of money if you want to realize it and move to Sicamous. But my wife has lived here all her life,” he said.

“I get a little p----d off because we’ve been living with a municipality that has infilled all the property around us. (BC Assessment) is comparing us with view lots, but the city allowed a 25-foot building in front of me.

“I don’t see why we should be compared to the guy next door – we’re penalized because he’s taken a big profit.”


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