The residential real estate market in Greater Trail was a patchwork of performance in the last year, with West Trail one of the hardest hit neighbourhoods, according to latest figures released by BC Assessment.
In the assessment roll for 2013—a reflection of how the local market was doing—the Silver City bucked the trend of downward consistency that has gripped the rest of the West Kootenay.
Variations in assessed value throughout the city’s neighbourhoods saw a 5.2 per cent drop in West Trail, far ahead of East Trail (down 1.37 per cent) and Tadanac (down 1.45 per cent). However, Sunningdale was up .74 per cent while assessed value in Glenmerry rose .56 per cent.
The change in assessment for most West Kootenay communities was around -.5 per cent. However, in Trail there was a wider fluctuation than any other community in the West Kootenay, said deputy assessor for the region, Dennis Hickson.
“Trail is such a difficult market because of the variation in the housing stock,” he said. “Markets within the city move a little differently than most. So you get a wider variance in the rate of change in Trail.”
Out of just over 3,000 single family residences in Trail, over half of them fell into the range of zero to minus five per cent change, but the rest rose marginally, Hickson said.
The 2013 average residential assessment for Trail dropped $3,000 to $174,000 from one year ago, while Rossland’s average assessment plummeted $7,000 to $243,000.
In the villages, Montrose’s assessment fell by $2,000 to $219,000, Fruitvale dropped $3,000 to $186,000, and Warfield dropped $2,000 to $170,000.
However, the assessment roll comprising Trail and Rossland’s rural area increased substantially from $716 million last year to $786 million this year due to the addition of the large hydroelectric facility, the Waneta Dam expansion. Almost $33.4 million of the assessment value is attributable to subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.
Hickson said the Silver City’s theme was the higher valued housing retained its value while the lower valued housing in general significantly decreased.
Overall, residential assessments dropped in Trail, while commercial values rose, making the City of Trail’s 2013 total property assessment roll static relative to 2012 at $1.1 billion.
The City of Rossland’s total assessment roll decreased from $603 million last year to $588 million this year. The Village of Fruitvale’s assessment roll remained unchanged at $194 million.
But just because the value of homes in Trail went down doesn’t mean taxes will as well. The assessment roll is independent from the city’s budget process and will not directly impact it, said city chief administrator, David Perehudoff.
“The property tax rates are adjusted based on final assessment after city expenditures and revenue requirements are set, and further is based on how council chooses to apportion the property taxes amongst the property classes after the budget has been reviewed and approved.”
Therefore the assessments have no direct impact on the budget, he added.
However, there has been some “real growth” in Class 6 business/other, which will have a positive impact on the city’s finances and could potentially reduce the overall property taxes paid by residents, said Perehudoff, depending on how council apportions the final revenue requirement.
Looking further afield, the uniformity of change of the various single family residences in the municipalities across the West Kootenay was indicative of what was happening in the area, said Hickson.
“The narrowness in the range of change is a result of a lack of change in the market and the stability in the market,” he said.
But the worst hit in the West Kootenay was the Slocan Valley where assessments were down by up to 20 per cent. Average homes in Nelson ($364,000) dipped by 3.5 per cent to $351,000, while Castlegar was down by 1.5 per cent and Grand Forks slid 4.5 per cent.
The assessments took place between July 2011 through July 2012. Assessors took the characteristics of each property into consideration, including the size of the house, its age, the size of the property, its topography and view.
“Those sorts of characteristics are the drivers that determine the market value of each property,” said Hickson. “And the drivers are based on what is happening in the market place with similar type housing.”
Assessors determine the market value of land and improvements and enter those values on the assessment roll. For 95 per cent of all properties on the roll, assessed value is the market value as of July 1. The remaining five per cent are subject to legislative restrictions.
BC Assessment produces independent property assessments on an annual basis for all property owners in the province. Operating as an independent, provincial Crown corporation, the mandate of BC Assessment is to establish and maintain uniform real property assessments throughout B.C. in accordance with the Assessment Act.
If people have any concerns or they want to ensure their assessment is correct, there are online tools to compare an assessment to both other properties in the neighbourhood as well as actual sales that occurred.
If a property owner is still concerned about their assessment after speaking to an appraiser, they may submit a Notice of Complaint (Appeal) by Jan. 31 for an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel.
Visit www.bcassessment.ca for more information about the 2013 assessment roll.