Basic questions on assessment and property taxes
  1. Why has my assessment increased with the current economic conditions?

  2. Why are assessments based on market value?

  3. What methods are used to determine market value?

  4. Why is my house not assessed the same as my neighbors when they look exactly the same?

  5. Can I check or compare the assessment on my neighbor's property?

  6. How do I get the sale price of a property that sold on my street?

  7. Will I be able to access the sale price on a property as soon as the SOLD sign appears on the property?

  8. Why is it that the higher the value of a property, the higher amount the owner pays?

  9. What evidence does the government have that my property has increased in value? Why has it gone up when I haven't made any changes to it?

  10. How can my assessment go up when nobody visited my property?

  11. Can my assessment ever go down?

  12. Who determines the final tax bill? What is the process?

  13. Where does the money go when I pay my tax bill?

  14. Why does a municipal tax bill come in a provincial envelope? Who does what and why?

  15. How are secondary residences (cottages, camps) assessed?

  16. Why do some properties seem to go up a considerable amount in one year?
Contact us at: snb@snb.ca

     

  1. Why has my assessment increased with the current economic conditions?

    Assessments in New Brunswick are based on the market value of the property. The recent sale price of properties in the province has not indicated a decrease in market value.

    The volume of sales transactions in 2012 has been relatively stable with modest increases in specific areas of the province.

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  2. Why are assessments based on market value?

    Basing assessments on market value promotes fairness and transparency and is the predominant method of assessment in jurisdictions around the world.

    The market value of a property is used to establish the assessment because it is an understandable method (real estate prices are published every day in the paper) and it is considered the most equitable and realistic measure of a property's worth.

    Market value is the most probable price that a property would sell for on the open market on a given point in time - as of January 1 of each tax year in New Brunswick. Assessors in New Brunswick review and measure each localized real estate market to establish typical market value.

    Annual property assessments enable property owners to be confident that estimated values reflect current market conditions and physical characteristics for all NB properties. This helps to keep assessments current and fair, stabilize taxes over time, and sustain a transparent valuation process.

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  3. What methods are used to determine market value?

    Assessors evaluate New Brunswick property on the same principle of "market value" each year. They analyze and follow the marketplace in setting the value of your property.

    Factors that affect market value could include:

    • property location (including nearness to green spaces, community services, and access)
    • total finished floor area of a home
    • lot size
    • basement or lower level of home development (finished floor, walls and ceiling)
    • quality of construction - materials and labor
    • age of building and abnormal depreciation
    • existence and type of garage
    • traffic influences or neighborhood characteristics and
    • in the case of income producing properties, the income generated by that property

    So, assessors aren't actually determining market value, they are responding to the real estate marketplace.

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  4. Why is my house not assessed the same as my neighbors when they look exactly the same?

    As the old saying goes, "looks can be deceiving". Your house and your neighbor's house may look very much the same but there are a lot of factors that distinguish one from the other and could result in a different assessment for each property. Many of these factors are listed in the question previous to this one and the most obvious are ones like finished basements, age and quality of building and type of garage. Even two seemingly identical houses can have different assessments if they are located in different parts of a city, in a different community or subjected to measurably different market forces.

    The bottom line is that each assessment is unique to the individual house or property.

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  5. Can I check or compare the assessment on my neighbor's property?

    Yes. The assessed values of all properties in New Brunswick are available here.

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  6. How do I get the sale price of a property that sold on my street?

    The sale price on all properties in New Brunswick is now public information as of January 1, 2009. There is no fee for this information. Sale prices prior to this date are not available. The sale price is accessible to the public here. The civic address of the property must be known in order to find the applicable sale price.

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  7. Will I be able to access the sale price on a property as soon as the SOLD sign appears on the property?

    No. The closing date of the sale does not correspond to the placement of the SOLD sign on a property. The closing date is typically 3 - 5 weeks after the sign appears on the property. The sales information will be accessible to the public 30 days following the closing date.

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  8. Why is it that the higher the value of a property, the higher amount the owner pays?

    All jurisdictions in North America and, many other jurisdictions around the globe, use property taxes as a way to raise revenues to finance services. Generally, it is a revenue source that is used to pay for local services like fire protection, policing, local roads, etc. Property assessment is seen as an equitable and transparent way to distribute the cost of these services across citizens by using the value of property as the basis for sharing those costs.

    The 1967 Byrne Commission and Equal Opportunity established the assessment and property tax system that we have in New Brunswick. Assessments are done by the Province using identical processes and tools for all municipalities. Municipalities, for their part, decide what they need in revenues to provide services to their citizens and determine a tax rate which will bring in these revenues in the form of property taxes.

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  9. What evidence does the government have that my property has increased in value? Why has it gone up when I haven't made any changes to it?

    As New Brunswick uses the market value standard, assessors use real estate sales and costs of construction across the province to measure the increase and decrease in property values. This data is then used to establish market value in all neighborhoods throughout the region.

    When a property in your neighborhood sells for more than its assessed value, this suggests a higher value for all properties in that neighborhood - even though no physical improvements may have been made to any of these properties. These trends are then analyzed and used to make adjustments to assessments to bring them in line with market value.

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  10. How can my assessment go up when nobody visited my property?

    There are 460,000 properties in New Brunswick. That means assessors would have to visit 2,000 properties every day each year to visit every property in the province. It is neither realistic nor necessary for them to do so to establish the real and true market value of a property.

    While a property may not be visited for a number of years, assessors have a file for each property in the province with the necessary details about the land and buildings. By combining all this data with real estate sales and new construction in a neighborhood, adjustments are made annually to assessments to reflect the current market value for each property.

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  11. Can my assessment ever go down?

    Absolutely. If the market demonstrates a contraction in real estate values, the assessments in that area will be adjusted downward into the future. This is a very real occurrence and has happened in certain New Brunswick communities in recent years.

    Again, it simply depends on the level of economic activity in a community and the strength of the demand for housing in each neighborhood. As a home is often a family's largest asset, people prefer to see their home increase in value each year as they are then building equity and net worth.

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  12. Who determines the final tax bill? What is the process?

    If you're a typical homeowner in New Brunswick - that is, you don't have a rental property in your home - your tax bill is determined by multiplying your assessment by the municipally-determined property tax rate.

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  13. Where does the money go when I pay my tax bill?

    Again, if you're a typical homeowner in New Brunswick - that is, you don't have a rental property in your home - 100% of your property taxes go to the municipality you reside in to fund the priorities they choose. There is a small amount - an average of about $25 per property - that goes back to the province to fund provincial assessment services.

    If you have a rental property in your home, you pay municipal property tax on the residential piece of your home and you pay both municipal and provincial property tax on the piece of your home that you rent out.

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  14. Why does a municipal tax bill come in a provincial envelope? Who does what and why?

    Under the Byrne Commission and Equal Opportunity, certain responsibilities were assigned to each level of government. Property assessment was assigned the responsibility of the provincial government in order to ensure that the same processes, policies and methods are used no matter where you live in the province.

    Today, the Crown Corporation, Service New Brunswick performs the assessment function across the province on behalf of the provincial government, municipalities and Local Service Districts (LSD's). Each November, the Department of Environment and Local Government takes those assessments and provides each municipality with their tax base (the sum total of the value of all property in their municipality). The municipality can then formulate the next year's municipal budget by adjusting the tax rate to meet their spending needs.

    For New Brunswickers who live in LSD's, who have a second property which is not their residence or who rent out a part of their home, they pay property tax to the province.

    So, while the Province does the property assessment and tax collection, municipalities determine how much homeowners pay by setting their local tax rate.

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  15. How are secondary residences (cottages, camps) assessed?

    Secondary residence are assessed in the same manner as primary residences - by using the market value standard and by looking at all the same factors - sales prices in the neighborhood, new construction and renovations.

    However, secondary residences are taxed in a different way than primary residences. Owners of secondary residences do not receive the provincial residential property tax credit, which is for primary residences only. It was introduced over a period of years in the 1970's to lessen the tax load on homeowners and to promote home ownership.

    Every individual owning their principal residence in New Brunswick is eligible and receives the provincial residential property tax credit - that is, a typical homeowner pays property tax to the municipality but is exempted from paying any provincial property tax.

    Most people in New Brunswick do not own more than one residence. Government recognizes the importance of the primary residence to New Brunswickers and provides this provincial residential property tax credit. Those with secondary or seasonal residences are not eligible for this credit on their second property as it is, by definition, not their primary residence.

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  16. Why do some properties seem to go up a considerable amount in one year?

    With 460,000 properties across the province that must be reassessed, it remains a challenge to ensure that each property is assessed at as close to market value as it can be each year. There are a number of reasons why a property may have a spike in the assessment in a given year:

    • New construction on, or renovation to, the property.
    • In any given year, a very small number of properties may not be as close to market value as they should be. This means that the next year potentially becomes a "catch-up" year and those property's assessments may jump considerably when compared to the average for that community and the annual expected increase.
    • The sale of a property can bring an under-assessment to light. There may have been improvements made to a property that the Assessor was previously unaware of and the sale price indicates this under-assessment.
    • A change in land classification. For example woodland or farmland being turned into lots along a road or waterway.

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