Value hikes enter the strata-sphere
Condominiums, townhomes see assessments rise as much as 40 per cent
Condominium and townhouse owners throughout Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley will likely get a shock when they open their property assessment notices this week, thanks to a region-wide increase in strata property values.
On Tuesday, B.C. Assessment released its 2018 property assessment data, which showed across Greater Vancouver there were assessment increases in the five to 35 per cent range between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017.
In the Fraser Valley, the increases ranged from 10 per cent to 40 per cent.
“The strata market is quite different. It’s been very robust — it’s really outstripped the singlefamily market,” B.C. Assessment spokeswoman Tina Ireland said.
Last month, the authority sent warning letters to 67,000 homeowners, telling them to expect above-average increases on their 2018 property assessment notices.
According to B.C. Assessment data, Vancouver strata homes went up on average 15.2 per cent over the previous year’s assessment, while in Surrey they went up 23.8 per cent.
The city of Langley saw an even bigger jump — 26.2 per cent.
A typical strata townhouse in Whistler Village went up 30 per cent, while a townhouse in Squamish’s Garibaldi Estates saw a 20 per cent increase.
“I think the extent to which things really cooled down in single-family but not in condos was very, very striking because we tend to think of condos as something where you can add more supply, and single-family it’s harder to add more supply,” said Tsur Somerville, professor and director of the University of B.C.’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.
Jill Oudil, the president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said the trend has continued since the assessments took place on July 1.
“Detached has calmed a bit, although it’s still what we consider a balanced market,” she said. “Condos and townhomes haven’t changed as far as both being in high demand.”
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, who also chairs the Metro Vancouver board of directors, said it’s not a surprise to see condo and townhouse assessments going up. It happened in Vancouver a number of years ago, and now the suburbs are catching up.
Strata residential values went up about 20 per cent in PoCo, and a typical low-rise condo in the city’s downtown saw a 28 per cent increase.
“What I hear most about is not necessarily the assessment percentage going up, it’s how unaffordable it is for people to now even afford a condo in the suburbs,” Moore said.
Somerville agreed the affordability of condos and townhomes is “worrisome.”
“When you see a lot of price appreciation in the thing that’s really the entry level product, then you’re really more concerned about people being shut out, particularly
when you see these kind of increases out in the Fraser Valley,” he said.
The single-family home market was “really quite stable, especially in the core areas of Vancouver — Vancouver, Richmond, North Shore, Burnaby,” Ireland said.
Urban areas of Greater Vancouver saw changes that ranged from a decrease of five per cent to an increase of 15 per cent. Rural areas saw a similar range, with the upper end hitting 25 per cent.
For example, in Vancouver, single-family home assessments went up on average 1.6 per cent. Richmond went up 2.5 per cent and Burnaby 2.6 per cent.
“We start moving out to the Fraser Valley — so even out Coquitlam way, into Surrey and Abbotsford — seeing more in the 10 to 20 per cent range for the 2018 assessment,” Ireland said.
Detached homes in the Fraser Valley, which runs from Richmond past Hope and Boston Bar, saw anything from a decrease of five per cent to a rise of 25 per cent.
Single-family homes in Surrey increased an average of 10.6 per cent, Maple Ridge went up 14.1 per cent, Abbotsford saw a 16.3 per cent rise and Chilliwack was up 19.1 per cent.
The overall residential housing market in Vancouver saw “nominal” changes in value, Ireland said.
The city saw a 5.63 per cent average increase in residential property assessments.
The only municipalities in the Greater Vancouver or Fraser Valley areas that saw lower percentage changes were West Vancouver (1.12 per cent), Delta (2.9 per cent), the district of North Vancouver (4.11 per cent) and White Rock (4.35 per cent). Some rural areas saw even smaller increases or overall decreases.
Two dozen municipalities saw double-digit increases in their average residential property values, as did some rural areas. Municipalities on the fringes of the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas — Pemberton, Whistler, Chilliwack, Kent, Mission, Hope and Harrison Hot Springs — saw increases of about 20 per cent.
Tsawwassen First Nation saw the largest average increase: 44.94 per cent.
Property owners should note that just because their assessed property value went up, it doesn’t mean they’ll face a big property tax increase this summer. What matters is how much your property increased compared to others in your property class.
About two million property owners are expected to receive their assessments by mail in early January. They have until Jan. 31 to appeal their assessments.