Vancouver Sun

Home values surge in the suburbs, but times are changing in Metro

- DAVID CARRIGG and DERRICK PENNER

The slowdown in Metro Vancouver real estate sales took a strip out of detached home values in the city of Vancouver — particular­ly at the highest end — while values in the city’s suburbs and other parts of the province continued rising, according to the British Columbia Assessment Authority.

This week, the assessment authority started mailing 2019 property assessment­s to owners, based on market values as of July 1, 2018, that show declining values in Metro Vancouver for the first time in about a decade.

Assessment­s offer a bit of a “backward look” at changes in markets, said demographe­r Andy Yan, director of the city program at Simon Fraser University, but do offer a baseline for acknowledg­ing that changes are happening. “We’ll only know moving forward, is this a break in the weather, or is this climate change?” Yan said.

“Are we seeing the slight kind of flattening (in markets) versus a fundamenta­l change that has encapsulat­ed British Columbia and the Lower Mainland for the last 10, 20 years?”

Generally, assessment­s show that across the city of Vancouver, detached homes dropped an average of four per cent in value, while condo values rose six per cent.

In North Vancouver, detached home values fell on average four per cent, while assessment­s on condos rose seven per cent.

Yan was reluctant to offer a forward-looking forecast. He would only say that, even with new taxes, stricter mortgage qualificat­ions and declining inflows of foreign capital into property markets, “it’s not affordabil­ity in our time.” when it comes to prices.

“We haven’t seen that yet,” Yan said.

Broadly speaking, the range of value change for a single detached home on its assessment in the urban areas of Greater Vancouver will be from negative 15 per cent to plus 10 per cent. In the Fraser Valley, the average range is negative 10 per cent to plus 15 per cent.

The divergence between Metro Vancouver detached home prices declining, or rising in smaller increments than more rapidly increasing assessment­s on condominiu­ms, will likely be enough to shift some of the region’s tax base away from houses and on to stratatitl­ed properties, said University of B.C. economist Tsur Somerville.

“For sure, taxes are going to go up, on a percentage basis, faster for condos than single-family (homes),” said Somerville, a senior fellow in UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate.

B.C. Assessment deputy assessor Keith MacLean-Talbot, in a statement, said assessment increases don’t automatica­lly translate into bigger tax increases.

It’s “how your assessment changes relative to the average change in your community is what may affect your property taxes,” MacLean-Talbot said.

However, on housing affordabil­ity, property appraiser Paul Sullivan argues that conditions are still getting worse for would-be buyers trying to get into the market, even if prices on detached homes in Vancouver are declining.

Elsewhere in the province, B.C. Assessment figures show an average jump of 23 per cent for condo owners in Whistler (to $962,000), and a 19 per cent jump for condo owners in Squamish (to $583,500).

In West Vancouver, at the start of the road to Whistler, detached property owners can expect a 12 per cent average drop in value to $2.8 million, the biggest average fall in value for that class of home in the Greater Vancouver region.

In the Fraser Valley region — that includes Surrey and Richmond — the biggest winners among detached residentia­l property owners are deep in the valley, with Chilliwack values growing 10 per cent (to $613,000), District of Hope rising 17 per cent (to $416,000) and District of Mission 10 per cent (to $698,000).

In Abbotsford, condo owners will see their assessed values jump on average 28 per cent (to $353,000), while detached homeowners will see an average nine per cent rise (to $758,000).

City of Langley condo owners will see a 27 per cent average jump in valuation (to $396,000).

Surrey homeowners will receive an average four per cent rise for detached homes (to $1.042 million) and 14 per cent for condos (to $522,000).

Single-family homeowners in White Rock and Richmond will see an average two per cent drop.

MacLean-Talbot said homeowners who aren’t happy with their assessment should contact the authority as soon as possible in January for an independen­t review.

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