BC Assessment's business is to provide a stable and predictable base for real property taxation in British Columbia. BC Assessment determines ownership and tax liability, classifies and values each property in British Columbia. To meet its mandate, BC Assessment completes a property assessment for properties in B.C. every year.
BC Assessment's annual property assessments provide the foundation for local and provincial taxing authorities to calculate billions of dollars in property tax revenue each year that fund the many important community services provided by local governments around the province.
How we assess properties
BC Assessment estimates the assessed value of most properties (e.g. residential homes and commercial properties) as of July 1 each year. Your annual assessment notice provides an assessed value based on the market value that your property would have sold for on or about the previous July 1.How we value your home
Assessed values reflect the physical condition and use of properties as of October 31. The assessed values are based on comparable markets sales on or about the previous July 1.
In determining the assessed value, and the property type (residential, commercial, industrial or institutional) our appraisers may give consideration to present use, location, original cost, replacement cost, revenue or rental value, selling price of the land and improvements and comparable land and improvements, economic and functional obsolescence and other circumstances affecting the value of the land and improvements.
Appraisers also consider a wide variety of physical factors such as size, age, quality and condition of the improvements (buildings) as well as location, availability of services, shape and topography of the land.
The supply of properties available for sale and demand from willing buyers affects the rate of change in market values. Market values typically increase during a seller's market, where supply is low and demand is high. On the other hand, market values typically decrease during a buyer's market, where supply is high and demand is low. Market values are stable where supply and demand are balanced.
Changes to properties including new construction, renovations, property classification and eligibility for an exemption are also reflected on the annual property assessments.
Appraisers look to the market to determine the market value of a property. Only comparable sales within a market area that have similar potential uses are considered and analyzed.
Potential Impact of changes in community plans on property assessments
The Local Government Act (LGA) provides direction and guidance to local governments as to adopting an official community plan (OCP). An OCP is a document containing objectives and policies used to guide local governments with decisions on planning and land use management. The LGA states that an OCP is equal to an official development plan under the Vancouver Charter.
OCP's provide guidance on land use (e.g. zoning by-laws) and building densities within specified areas in a community. Local governments may introduce or update an OCP as part of a strategy to change the patterns of land use based on a community's needs. OCPs help to create a variety of desired uses to enhance community aesthetics, revitalizing a specific area, and/or improving the links between community and transportation networks.
If an OCP is adopted or updated, BC Assessment reviews market evidence to determine any impact on the market value of affected properties. Our appraisers will review comparable market sales to determine any impact on market value.
The following are important considerations when determining the impact on market value of OCP amendments:
- What is the impact of the OCP amendment on the market value of affected properties?
- Does the amended OCP support rezoning that will impact permitted uses and/or density for development for affected properties?
- Does the market show demand for properties with amended OCP designations?
- Do comparable sales indicate the OCP has had an impact on the market value of the properties?
The same analysis applies if a local government grants a rezoning to a property which changes the land use (such as permitted uses and/or density of development).
Potential Impact of rezoning on property assessments
Official Community Plans (OCPs) provide direction as to the potential uses, potential density, building height guidelines, etc. Zoning designations provide more detailed, site-specific land uses including primary and secondary permitted uses, allowable density, maximum site coverage, building setbacks, parking requirements, etc.
In the event that a property is rezoned, BC Assessment must review market evidence and determine any potential impact to the assessed value as well as property classification. Should the evidence indicate there is an impact on value or a change in permitted use regarding classification, our appraisers will review comparable sales and permitted use to determine the impact to the market value as of July 1.
Vacant land that is rezoned from residential to commercial may see the property classification changed following the Prescribed Classes of Property Class Regulation.
The following are important considerations when determining the impact on market value of rezoning:
- What is the impact of the rezoning on the value of the property?
- What is the classification of the property following rezoning?
- Does the new zoning (e.g. permitted uses and density) affect the development potential?
- Does market evidence indicate if there is demand for the rezoned property?
- Do comparable sales indicate the rezoning has had an impact on the market value of the property versus its current use?
Market value example
Historically the commercial core of this neighbourhood (pictured above), included low-density, two to three-storey buildings with commercial uses on the main floor and apartment units on the second and third floors. Today, this neighbourhood is growing rapidly. Market demand is strong for higher density, mixed commercial-residential developments. The municipality has recently adopted a new official community plan (OCP) permitting a high-density mixed commercial-residential development in the area to a maximum of 20-stories.
Several neighbouring properties were subsequently sold and rezoned to allow high density, mixed-use development. Given market demand for higher density properties, the market value increased to reflect the potential for high-density, mixed-use development potential. In this example, the owners chose to demolish the existing buildings and redevelop the property with a high density mixed-use development as permitted by zoning.
What is the market value of the existing low-rise commercial property in the subject neighbourhood?
As determined by market demand, the existing low-rise commercial property (in the neighbourhood above) would be assessed at market value based on the redevelopment potential of the land. The improvement value would be nominal based on the current, interim use, pending redevelopment.
Our service to British Columbia
BC Assessment mails individual assessment notices, with entries recorded from the assessment roll, to all property owners in the province. Once audited and authenticated by the Property Assessment Review Panel, BC Assessment presents the assessment roll to various tax jurisdictions: municipal governments, regional districts and the Ministries of Education and Health. The assessment roll is used by tax jurisdictions to form the basis of their tax rolls. Tax jurisdictions set tax rates for each of the nine property classes.
As a result, BC Assessment's annual property assessments provide the foundation for local and provincial taxing authorities to calculate billions of dollars in property tax revenue each year that fund the many important community services provided by local governments around the province as well as the public school system.
BC Assessment maintains an extensive and up-to-date information database on all properties in British Columbia. Public access to this electronic database is available through our online assessment search service. For a fee, BC Assessment will also produce custom information reports.
BC Assessment provides accurate property and value information to:
- tax authorities;
- property owners;
- municipal, provincial and federal government agencies;
- realtors, appraisers, lawyers, bankers, title search companies;
- other private and public agencies.