Friday, January 09, 2009

West side/ East side stories markedly different from assessments

Assessment notices arrived in our mail boxes this week, and if the Daily News has divined the prospects correctly the folks with the view homes on the west side will be getting a sizable break on pending taxes this year, while folks over on the east side of town will find the savings to be much more modest.

The savings were made possible through a roll back of assessment values by the BC Government to reflect the 2007 assessment year, making properties which have seen a marked increase in value in the last twelve months still rated at 2007 levels.

The details on the impact of the assessment comes at the same time that the BC Northern Real Estate Board just in time for us all to learn that it's taking longer to sell a house and we'll most likely have more competition should we wish to sell.

The twin stories of real estate were found in Friday's Daily News.

More expensive homes will see bigger savings in property tax thanks to province's changes
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, January 09, 2009
Pages one and three

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's plan to assess property values at July 1, 2007 rates could create winners and losers in the way Rupertites will pay taxes in 2009.

According to information available to the public on the BC Assessment website, home owners, office owners and establishment owners with the biggest property increases will incur the biggest savings on their property taxes this year, while those with lower-valued properties will save negligibly.

"The premise for property tax is the people who have the biggest property should pay the biggest, most expensive tax bill. But if they use the previous year tax evaluations, the person whose property value has increased in value the most is not going to be paying their proportionate amount this year," said the City's Chief Financial Officer Dan Rodin.

Normally, the city would have to calculate the market adjustment for the price differences in homes but because most owners are expected to peg their taxes at 2007 property value assessments, Rodin won't have to enter that in to part of the equation this time around.

One of the places Ruperites can see how the provincial government's plan to tag 2007 prices for 2009 taxes has created winners and losers is one of the city's top residential roads, Graham Avenue. A two-storey semi custom home, which BC Assessment rates as in "Good Condition" in the 1800 block of Graham, shot up by almost $300,000 in one year, from $639,000 to $936,000.

The tax savings on that home, thanks to the one-year roll-back, are considerable compared to a smaller home elsewhere in the city that has not gone up in value.

On the east end of town, where property on average is considerably cheaper, taxes saved are considerably less.

One east side home, in the 1100-block of Eight Avenue East, saw no change in property value at all, staying neutral at $235,200. However a home in the same block saw its value jump from $104,000 to $119,300.

All this means is someone is going to have to pick up the slack for the City of Prince Rupert once the budget is decided on later this year.

"Of course, the other side of the coin is if you're a pensioner and through no fault of your own your property tax has rocketed past your pension payout because of an increase in value, you might think this is fair," said Rodin.

The 2008 property tax rate for 2008 will be two per cent again this year and Rodin could not say what to expect for 2010.

"Right now, we are in the process in planning the 2009 budget, so right now our concerns are a little more immediate," said Rodin.

Fewer homes selling across Northwest B.C.
But the average price of a house is holding firm
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, January 09, 2009
Page three

Property values continued their upward climb in 2008 but there are now more homes for sale at the beginning for 2009 than there were at the beginning of 2008.

According to the BC Northern Real Estate Board's final 2008 report, the average property price in Prince Rupert climbed to $186,511 last year, up from the $164,727 but sales iced after a blistering 2007.

A total of 109 homes changed hands in 2008 compared to 194 homes in 2007, and while the numbers might look icy on paper, as the real estate economy has slowed, local BCNREB director Victor Prystay said we could see a bounce-back in 2009.

"I want to believe and I have to believe 2009 will be a better year than 2008," said Prystay.
According to the BCNREB, 152 properties worth a total of $28.51 million changed hands in Prince Rupert, which was down by almost half of the 2007 totals when $44.71 million changed hands.

Almost half of the homes sold went for less than $173,500 even with the average price was $186,511.

However, by the end of the year there were 252 properties available for sale, which is up from the 157 from 2007.

"Part of the malaise of the 2008 year was the fact that the first ship arrived at (the Fairview container port) at the end of October 2007 and then the first eight months there was only one ship per week and the consequence of that the longshoremen by-and-large weren't really getting many hours a week," said Prystay.

Prince Rupert did not suffer alone through 2008 as the whole Northwest real estate market took it on the chin when it came to sales.

In Terrace, while the property price was slightly higher than Prince Rupert's at $207,459, there were only 168 total sales in 2008 compared to 220 in 2007.

In Kitimat, only 85 properties were sold compared to 129 the year before.

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