Margo Wood plans to appeal the assessments of her Ocean Park home and White Rock rental property – the latter of which jumped by 70 per cent.

Margo Wood plans to appeal the assessments of her Ocean Park home and White Rock rental property – the latter of which jumped by 70 per cent.

70 per cent assessment rise raises concerns for South Surrey senior

Increase to homeowner grant threshold announced Tuesday morning

In all her years as a homeowner, South Surrey senior Margo Wood has never felt the need to appeal BC Assessment’s valuation of her properties.

But that changed this year, after the annual notices advised her of substantial jumps to both her principal residence in Ocean Park and that of a rental property she owns in White Rock.

“It went up this year 70 per cent,” Wood said Monday of the White Rock property’s valuation, which jumped to $1,041,800 from $614,600 the year prior.

“I’m going to appeal it. It’s such a ridiculous increase.”

Wood – who is also appealing a 49 per cent increase to her Ocean Park property’s assessment, which rose to $1,431,000 from $960,000 – is far from alone.

Steve Miller, a senior appraiser at Bakerview Realty Appraisals, which handles assessment appeals across the Lower Mainland, said inquiries from homeowners wondering about pursuing an appeal are up 700 to 800 per cent.

And while he said the valuations may have been accurate as of July 1, “I think they may have been a little too aggressive this year, thinking the market was going to potentially continue rising,” Miller said.

“I imagine their switchboards are lighting up like a Christmas tree.”

But while Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg said he has heard from about 55 people – more than usual, and including four who called him at home – BC Assessment spokesman Tim Morrison said there’s no sign yet of a groundswell of appeals. And, he doesn’t expect that to change.

“We’ve always, consistently, year after year after year, been below two per cent in terms of the number of property owners who actually appeal,” Morrison said.

“I would expect the trend to continue this year.”

Wood’s 70 per cent jump was not the highest seen on the Peninsula.

Rob Neil said his South Surrey property’s valuation jumped 75 per cent, to $1,358,300 from $775,500.

Neil – who was among approximately 4,200 Peninsula residents to receive courtesy letters last month warning of a substantial increase –  said he is also exploring an appeal for the first time. He noted concern created by the assessments could be eased somewhat if homeowners had a sense of what impact the boosts would actually have on their property-tax bill.

“When you see that kind of jump, you start to get kind of spooked,” he said.

Sandra Kurylo, director of financial services for the City of White Rock, said it’s too early to know, but that in general, for homeowners like Wood, the impact will depend on the city’s budget, and on the change in the assessed value of such properties relative to the overall average in the city.

Kurylo expects to present a report on the subject to council on Monday (Jan. 16).

Hogg said the average assessment increase in White Rock was 38 per cent; in Surrey, it was 36 per cent.

While the figures initially pushed many homeowners past the threshold for the homeowner grant – which provides a property tax credit of $570 ($845 for seniors) – that aspect was eased for the majority yesterday (Tuesday), when the threshold was raised by a third, to $1.6 million from $1.2 million.

According to officials, the change means 83 per cent of homes in Metro Vancouver are now below the threshold.

The intent was to try and include “virtually everyone who received it last year,” Hogg said.

– with files from Jeff Nagel