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REPORTING · 9th January 2016
Walter McFarlane
Housing assessments are out and Kitimat residents found that, on average, assessments are down 12%. These assessments reflect market values as of July 1st, 2015.

“Overall, the Northern BC region’s total assessments increased from $57.3 billion in 2015 to $59.5 billion this year. A total of almost $1.4 billion of the region’s updated assessments is from new construction, subdivisions and rezoning of properties,” reads a press release issued on January 4th from BC Assessment. “BC Assessment’s Northern BC region encompasses approximately 70% of the province stretching east to the Alberta border, north to the Yukon border, west to Bella Coola including Haidi Gwaii and ending just north of Clinton.”

The release shows Kitimat average at -12%, meaning a house which was worth $331,000 last year would be worth about $291,000 this year. Other places which are down include Tumbler Ridge, which dropped 34%, Fort Saint John which dropped 6% and Terrace which dropped 2%. Places which are up include Prince Rupert and Stewart at 13% and Tayler at 16%.

Mayor Phil Germuth expressed the assessment reflects the market values of July 1st, 2015.

“By that time, the Rio Tinto Modernization Project was pretty much complete so a lot of the workers, many of whom were from out of town, had already left. That’s what we believe led to s a softening of the real estate market,” said Germuth.

He pointed out BC Assessment does not explain why the market is down. He added the vacancy rate in 2012 went from +44% to 0% quickly. At the moment, the town’s vacancy rate is 4%, although Germuth believes this rate to have changed.

Manuel Leite, working at Remax in Kitimat, told us he doubts this will change the real estate market in Kitimat. Prices dropped over 2015 and the assessments confirmed that.

“Ove all, [2015] was a good year. We had a fair number of sales. There was slightly lower than the previous year,” said Leite. “We noticed prices dropped a little bit. They went up quickly 2-3 years ago when Rio Tinto started upgrading. Now that that’s finished, most of us are optimistic in anticipating LNG will come into town.”

What does this mean for taxes?

“Although our 2016 budget is preliminary, we plan on raising taxes 3% on residential,” said Steve Christiansen, Municipal Treasurer. “We set one tax rate for the average residential increase. If your assessment value drops 12 per cent, then you will realize a 3% tax increase. If your assessment value drop more than the 12 per cent average, then that would mean a less than a 3% increase, or possibly a tax reduction. If your assessed value raises more than 12 percent, you would be paying a larger than 3% increase.”

We asked Mayor Germuth if he hopes the Assessments for 2017 will go up or down. “Well, it’s a double edged sword, right?” said Germuth with a laugh. “If you’re going to have economic activity, your assessment rate is going to go up. I would like to see it go up because we want to see that economic activity here.”
Comment by Bill Kearley on 9th February 2016
It's true. A Kitimat homeowner has to go to Terrace to have a property value reviewed !!!!!!!!!
Downward slide
Comment by roguemc on 10th January 2016
A bad blow when Apache pulled out of LNG, can only imagine what any future investors might have thought about that? what do they know that we don't, might have crossed the minds of some. Now that Rio Tinto modernization is near complete and the trades have gone away economic growth is a going concern for those who paid 'the price' for a house recently, those ones must be counting on LNG as the answer but looks like the USA is going to beat us to the market, sadly enough. Add to this the low price of oil, the falling dollar, and recent market crashes....better brace for it.
On a brighter note, at least we have cheap gas at the pump, hey? Lmao!