Property values keep rising

Rising assessments don’t necessarily mean higher taxes, officials say as residents get the word their properties are worth more than they used to be.

Property assessment notices arrive in more than 17,000 area property owners’ mailboxes this week as part of the province-wide assessment update from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

In Belleville, those assessments average a 1.7 per cent increase for property owners.

Since 2008, when the last assessment update was completed, property values in Belleville have increased an average of 8.1 per cent. However, due to a four-year phase-in system, that increase will gradually be applied to properties.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean tax increases, says Brian Cousins, city treasurer in Belleville, noting the assessment notices “don’t mean anything” until the city sets a tax rate for 2013.

That likely won’t happen until the spring when council discusses its operating budget, Cousin said.

“We haven’t even done that budget,” he said. “We take the assessment and do the operating budget and, at the end of the day, we do the calculations for all the property classes in the city.”

An increase of 6.5 per cent has been recorded for waterfront property in the city, MPAC reports, while farm land has jumped by 9.6 per cent. Those increases are also phased in over four years.

Those numbers, at this point, shouldn’t alarm owners, Cousins said.

“It’s all depending on the operating budget,” he said. “It’s just your assessed value of your house, what a willing seller and a willing buyer will pay as of that date.”

The date used by MPAC for the latest assessment is Jan. 1, 2012.

A press release issued by MPAC highlighting the assessment increase reiterates Cousins’ comments.

“An increase in assessment does not necessarily mean an increase in property taxes,” the release stated. “If the assessed value of a home has increased by the same percentage as the average in the municipality, there might be no increase in the property taxes paid by property owners.”

Peter Moran, municipal relations representative with MPAC, stated assessment values reflect the local real estate market, a market that has seen most homeowners see an increase in property value.

Quinte and District Association of Realtors president Sharon Shortt said the 8.1 per cent increase quoted by MPAC seems fairly accurate based on figures collected by the association.

“Our average residential sale price has gone up (in the four year period beginning 2008) about 13 per cent. That reflects the average sale price so that’s dealing with either a $150,000 property through to, say, a $1.5 million home which, obviously, are going to deviate quite a bit from each other,” Shortt said.

Using those figures, she said, the MPAC numbers appear to be accurate though they will not reflect the downturn the local market is currently experiencing.

“The average sales prices have dropped this year,” she said. “The higher priced the home the bigger the drop has been. I think we’ll see that reflected more when we gather our year-end statistics.”

Link to original article: Property values keep rising

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