The value of Nova Scotia properties is rising steeply this year due to a hot housing market in 2021 and new construction projects.
Residential values are going up about 20 per cent overall in 2023 and commercial properties are increasing about seven per cent, according to the Property Valuation Services Corp.
"There was times when we used to do assessments on a three-year period — we'd only do a reassessment every three years — so at that time we used to have some large increases, but I would say since we've gone to a yearly [basis], these would be ... probably the largest that we've seen," said Lloyd MacLeod, PVSC director of assessment.
The numbers vary by municipality and are based on sales data from the year 2021, plus property condition information up to Dec. 1, 2022.
The pandemic had an impact on property values in 2021, but no one is sure how much, MacLeod said.
Cost of construction materials rose
"There was an increase in the population in Nova Scotia," he said.
"At the time, interest rates were low. There was a shortage of supply of home listings for sale. So I'm not really sure if you could put a number on what impact COVID had."
The pandemic also drove up the cost of building materials, which would have had an effect on property values, MacLeod said.
And one large new construction project in a small municipality can also skew the numbers, he said.
For example, a new nursing home was built in the Town of Mahone Bay, driving up commercial assessments there.
In Cape Breton Regional Municipality, hospital redevelopment in several communities and construction of a new community college campus in downtown Sydney are also having an effect, he said.
Post-tropical storm Fiona also had a limited effect on property values, said MacLeod.
For example, some houses lost roof shingles and siding, but many of those would have been fixed easily and wouldn't affect the value of the property.
Some estimates of the insurance costs from the storm have been in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but MacLeod said the effect on property values would never be that high.
However, the value would obviously change for properties such as the car wash in Glace Bay that was demolished by the wind.
The total of property values in Nova Scotia rose from $124.7 billion to $147.5 billion, which includes $120.6 billion in residential properties and $26.9 billion in commercial.
In the commercial sector, the value of industrial and retail properties rose, while hotels, motels and other accommodations remained relatively flat, MacLeod said.
Most of the largest total assessment increases were in and around Halifax Regional Municipality.
The top six are:
Town of Stewiacke, 28.5 per cent.
Annapolis County, 23.9 per cent.
Town of Berwick, 23.5 per cent.
Town of Mahone Bay, 22.5 per cent.
Municipality of East Hants, 21.2 per cent.
Halifax Regional Municipality, 21.1 per cent.
Around Cape Breton Island, properties were also up, but not as much, MacLeod said.
Inverness County, 15 per cent.
Victoria County, 10.5 per cent.
CB Regional Municipality, 9 per cent.
Richmond County, 8.6 per cent.
Town of Port Hawkesbury, 7.7 per cent.
Municipalities set their own tax rates based on assessment values to raise revenue to pay for services.
Assuming no change to municipal tax rates, increased property values mean most owners would pay more taxes.
However, the province also caps residential assessment increases based on the consumer price index to keep inflation from driving some people out of their homes.
Last year, the cap was 5.4 per cent and this year it is 7.7 per cent.
That means properties with large increases will only pay taxes on the value up to 7.7 per cent over the previous year's assessment.
Municipalities set their tax rates after determining their budgets for the coming year, usually in the spring.
Individual property assessment notices to owners are in the mail this week.
Anyone wishing to appeal their assessment value has until Feb. 9 to apply to the PVSC.
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