Little change in assessed home values across province
Municipal assessments are out in the mail, with no major shock in store for most homeowners
Homeowners in Newfoundland and Labrador shouldn’t expect to see large changes in residential taxation, according to data released by the Municipal Assessment Agency.
The province as a whole saw home values increase by 1.1 per cent, suggesting a stagnant housing market across the province.
“We’re seeing a minimal change in values, that’s the reality,” said Sean Martin, executive director of the Municipal Assessment Agency.
“Values, residentially, are down just a tick, but the new construction and renovations have managed to replace that money, if you will. Overall, it’s pretty flat.”
The total value of homes across the province grew to $34.5 billion in the most recent round, up by about $400 million in 2018.
Home values are assessed by the agency on a three-year basis. In 2016, when the previous assessments were done, the overall value of homes in the province jumped by around $9 billion. The most recent assessments showing no major jump or decline reveals a more or less stagnant housing market across the province, says Martin.
“The market activity is down. There’s less sales taking place, if we’re looking historically,” he said.
“Prices have not been dramatically affected, that’s the piece here. The higher-value properties might see a bit of a decline. The new constructions are building homes in a sweet-spot in the market – depending on where you are in the province – between $175,000 and $325,000 in value.”
The home values in the current round of assessments show what each home was worth on Jan. 1, 2017 and will remain at around that level until the next round of assessments in three years.
Of all the homes assessed by the agency, the number of homes increasing in value and decreasing is about even, with 43.3 per cent seeing an increase in value and 42.1 per cent seeing their values go down. The remaining homes will see no difference on their home values.
Looking region-to-region, the area with the largest home value decrease is Labrador, where the overall values of homes will see a 10.9 per cent decrease.
Martin says that decrease is largely driven by a huge change in Labrador West, where some home values will see a 40 to 50 per cent drop in their value. Elsewhere in Labrador, home values increased by eight or nine per cent, overall.
Those changes are attributed to the shutdown of the Wabush Mines project, though recent developments could see the mines restart, which could spell an increase in values during the next round of assessments.
Large fluctuations in home values in areas depending on natural resources aren’t rare, though Martin says the changes in Labrador West are the largest since the 1980s.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, though he agreed to follow up.
The assessment agency has no say in what the mill rate is for individual municipalities, but rather provides the home value data for municipalities to make their own changes.
The Town of Paradise, for example, is expecting to see a 2.2 per cent overall decrease in tax revenue as a result of the new assessed values — representing about $660,000 less for the town.
Residential values have gone down by five per cent, overall, while commercial values have increased by nine per cent, overall.
A spokesperson for the town says the budgetary process is underway and decisions on how the town will make up for that shortfall will be specified closer to the release of the town budget, expected in early December.
The numbers provided to The Telegram reflect trends on a large scale. Martin was unable to comment on specific municipalities and whether or not residents can expect to see increases to their home values and therefore potential for municipal tax bill increases.
In 2016, when home assessments saw a large jump, Martin says, municipalities took a conservative approach to changes to tax bills. Overall, Martin says residents saw an average increase of $50 a year to their tax bill in 2016, so he doesn’t anticipate any huge swing in taxes one way or the other, though individual cases will vary.
If one were to gauge whether their own municipality will see increases or decreases in overall home value, Martin says to take a look around to determine how many new homes have been built or renovated for a clue on whether the town’s overall home values will see a change, on average.
“We’re very thankful for him.” Jenny Seaward