Higher Peninsula home values are no surprise

When assessment notices arrive in mailboxes across the Peninsula, homeowners will see increases of between 14 and 20 per cent, but it is not a record-breaker.

Tina Ireland of B.C. Assessment said that the increases in assessed value are “a little bit softer” compared to previous years, especially in single-family homes.

“There is a bit of of an interesting picture across the province,” said Ireland.

“When you look at the core of Metro Vancouver-area, so Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby and the North Shore, there’s really no change in the single-family market in those areas, in some cases even slight decreases. But as soon as you move away from that core area, to the Fraser Valley, or Vancouver Island or the Okanagan, the single-family market is still quite strong, showing 10 to 20 per cent increases outside of the core area.”

“Those numbers may indicate that there is a movement to move away from the more expensive real estate in the core areas of Vancouver,” she said.

Ireland said that an increase in assessed property value does not necessarily mean an increase in property taxes. “What’s more important is how your property changes compared to others in the community,” she said.

The assessment rolls made by B.C. Assessment are used by local governments when making their budgets for the year.

“If all properties in Sidney, say, went up 20 per cent, and the municipality required the same amount of money to run their municipality [compared to last year], you’d really see no change in your property taxes,” said Ireland.

Patrick Schörle of Pacifica Real Estate said that he was not surprised by the data, though neither he nor Ireland would speculate on why Sidney, Metchosin and Langford saw the largest increases in the Greater Victoria area.

“It could be affordability, it could be desirability of living in Sidney, it could be a number of factors that lead to sale prices,” he said.

“You can still find some nice townhouses that are still reasonably affordable, and yet you’ve got a lifestyle that’s pretty unique on the Peninsula,” said Schörle.

Schörle said he is cautious to attribute the increases to market spillover from Vancouver. While it does exist, Schörle said that 76 per cent of the transactions are still local transactions from within the area.

“The assessment for us has very little bearing to actual value,” said Schörle, who sees the assessments as as a tool for local governments to determine taxation levels.

Schörle said real estate agents price a home based on a longer list of criteria than B.C. Assessment. Schörle said that while assessors with B.C. Assessment don’t typically enter homes, real estate agents do, which he said provides a more accurate valuation because of potential differences in finishing within the home.

This trend, Schörle said, is likely to continue. The Victoria Real Estate Board reported only 1384 active listings in December 2017, scarcely more than the number of agents in the area (approximately 1300). Schörle said that in Greater Victoria, a balanced market would have around 3,500 listings.

When there’s so little available, Schörle said, that creates pressure on buyers in terms of competitiveness, so prices will remain strong. Brentwood Bay and Saanichton continues to have single-family homes, whereas Sidney is focused on higher-density products like condos. But, buyers can still find a reasonable single-family home built in the 1980s in the mid-$700,000 range, “which is something that’s getting really almost impossible when you start looking closer to Victoria,” he said.

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