Archive for January, 2012

Is there a housing crash coming to Canada?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

The Bank of Montreal poured cold water on the idea Canada’s housing market could be headed for a crash, suggesting that prices are only “moderately high across the country.”

“Expect the housing boom to cool rather than crash,” BMO’s chief economist Sherry Cooper and senior economist Sal Guatieri said in a report published Monday.

“While the housing boom is unlikely to continue unless mortgage rates drop much further, neither is it likely to bust.”

The bank says home values are indeed rising at a faster pace than they used to, but the signs are pointing to a soft landing where prices stabilize — not a hard correction where prices drop quickly by 20 per cent or more.

“In our view, the national housing market is more like a balloon than a bubble,” the bank said. “While bubbles always burst, a balloon often deflates slowly in the absence of a pin.”

But demographic factors, consistently low interest rates, low construction costs and an influx of foreign buyers make it likely that no such pin will materialize for the foreseeable future, the bank said.

Average prices have grown more than twice as fast as family incomes since 2001, but BMO’s report argues there’s no reason to panic yet.

Nationally, home prices are 4.9 times higher than the average household income. A decade ago, that ratio was at 3.2.

Some cities are hotter than others. Vancouver’s home prices ratio currently sits at 10 times higher than average household income, Toronto’s is at 6.7, Montreal’s is at 4.5 while Halifax is at 3.8. Those are all on the high side, but if the market cools, that will allow incomes to catch up and move the price-to-income ratio lower, the bank argues.

The latest data from the Canadian Real Estate Association shows the national average price was $347,801 in December, a 0.9 per cent increase over the previous 12 months. That was the lowest level of growth since October 2010 and well below inflation, a possible sign that the market is already cooling.

The bank does note, however, three risks to the outlook. A sudden hike in interest rates, a widespread Canadian recession, or an economic slowdown in Asia reducing the number of foreign buyers would all take the air out of Canada’s housing market.

“But barring one of these triggers, however, a dramatic correction is unlikely,” the bank said.

Canadian home prices fell in 8 of 11 cities in November

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Apparently the only way isn’t always up.

Canadian house prices dropped in November for the first time in nearly a year, according to the monthly Teranet-National Bank house price index released Wednesday.

The 0.2 per cent drop followed two months of flat prices, and was the first decline in the index since a “brief correction during the three months ending November 2010,” said National Bank senior economist Marc Pinsonneault.

The national composite index, which tracks registered prices of homes sold at least twice, shows prices fell in eight of the 11 metropolitan markets tracked — one more than in October.

“Calgary and Victoria stood out with declines of 1.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively,” said Pinsonneault, noting the declines were much smaller in the other six markets, though declines in Toronto, Hamilton and Winnipeg “are noteworthy in that these three markets are considered tight.”

December data released by the Canadian Real Estate Association suggested most real estate markets in the country are balanced, with the exception of those three cities, and Victoria, which is considered to be a buyer’s market.

November’s prices were higher than October’s in Edmonton (0.1 per cent), Montreal (0.4 per cent) and Halifax (0.5 per cent).

Year over year, the composite index has gained 7.1 per cent, up slightly from 7.0 per cent the previous month because of a bigger drop in prices between October and November in 2010.

“Since prices began rising again in December 2010, the recent acceleration trend in 12-month changes could come to an end with next month’s report on December 2011 prices,” Pinsonneault said.

Source: Postmedia News

November housing prices (% change m/m | % change y/y):

Calgary -1.6 | 0.5

Edmonton 0.1 | 1.0

Halifax 0.5 | 2.8

Hamilton -0.3 | 4.4

Montreal 0.4 | 7.2

Ottawa -0.2 | 4.2

Quebec -0.2 | 6.0

Toronto -0.2 | 10.8

Vancouver -0.2 | 9.1

Victoria -0.9 | -0.3

Winnipeg -0.1 | 7.5

National Composite -0.2 | 7.1

Source: Teranet-National Bank

If you want housing affordability – move to Edmonton !

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Edmonton enjoys the most affordable housing of Canada’s six major metropolitan regions, according to a study released Monday.

The International Housing Affordability Survey looks at housing in cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand along with Hong Kong. It found that among Canadian cities with populations above one million, Edmonton has the most affordable housing.

Windsor was the most affordable market of any size, while Vancouver was by far the priciest market in the country. In fact, Vancouver outranked every city in the survey except Hong Kong, topping markets like New York City, San Francisco, Sydney and London, England.

Conducted by the public policy website Demographia and based on data from the third quarter of 2011, the study ranks cities by their “median multiple” — the median house price in an area divided by gross median household income. The survey labels any median multiple score over 3.0 as “unaffordable,” and a score above 5.0 as “severely unaffordable.”

Of the six biggest markets in Canada, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau earned the designation “moderately unaffordable,” and housing markets in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto scored as “severely unaffordable.”

The study, co-authored by American public policy consultant Wendell Cox and Kiwi real estate developer Hugh Pavletich, describes a sharp decrease in housing affordability over the last decade in the markets surveyed. It argues that median multiple scores should lie between two and three, but restrictive land-use regulations boost the price of housing, particularly in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. The report classed all five of Australia’s major metropolitan areas as “severely unaffordable.”

Cox and Pavletich specially denounce urban growth boundaries, which restrict the amount of land available for new housing development in places like Auckland, New Zealand and Portland, Ore. The authors advocate repealing such legislation where it exists to restore housing affordability.

Cities in America, where the housing market plummeted in 2008, earned the most affordable scores. Detroit led all major cities with a score of 1.4, followed by Atlanta at 1.9 and then cities like Las Vegas, Cleveland and Phoenix.

Hong Kong, at 12.6, scored highest, followed by Vancouver at 10.6 and Sydney at 9.2. Melbourne, which scored 8.4, and the British district of Plymouth & Devon, at seven, rounded out the five least-affordable major markets surveyed.

Source: Lewis Kelly, Edmonton Journal

How did Lower Mainland real estate prices perform in 2011?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Housing prices slumped in the second half of 2011, but real estate markets in the Lower Mainland ended up for the year overall.

Of course, Vancouver’s real estate market played a significant role.

The gain was bigger in the western half of the region, with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver reporting detached house prices typically rose 11.2 per cent for the year to $887,000.

Of interest is that the hottest gain was a 34 per cent jump in Port Moody home prices, where the Evergreen Line is now assured to pass through after funding for the SkyTrain extension was secured in recent months.

House prices on the west side of Vancouver also gained 20 per cent, while the east side, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby and South Delta all saw benchmark house prices gain 13 to 16 per cent.

Attached homes and condos gained more modestly, up roughly four per cent on average.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB), which covers Surrey, White Rock and North Delta, reported benchmark house prices gained 3.3 per cent in 2011 to $523,000.

Townhouses and condos dipped, however, declining 2.1 per cent (to $315,000) and 1.2 per cent (to $237,000) respectively.

“One trend from 2011 that is clear was the preference for single family homes,” FVREB president Sukh Sidhu said. “For the most part in our region, both sales and prices of townhomes and condos either stayed on par with 2010 or decreased.”

The hottest area was White Rock and South Surrey, where sales were strong and prices of benchmark detached houses climbed 10.8 per cent to $818,000.

The most expensive cities in which to buy property across the Lower Mainland remained the west side of Vancouver with benchmark detached houses nearing the $2 million level, West Vancouver houses at nearly $1.7 million and Richmond, at $1.07 million.

Benchmark houses can still be found for under $600,000 in areas like Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, North Delta, Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Langley in Metro Vancouver. In the Fraser Valley, equivalent prices are $424,000 in Abbotsford and $344,000 in Mission.

The Greater Vancouver statistics show the average residential property bought five years ago has gained almost 30 per cent since then.

Detached houses performed slightly better (up 38 per cent) than condos or townhouses (both up just over 20 per cent) over the five years.

Median prices of detached houses in the Fraser Valley are up 26 per cent over five years.

Source: Jeff Nagel, Surrey North Delta Leader

See how Canada fared in 2011’s global housing market

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

The global housing market suffered its worst performance for more than two years in the third quarter of 2011 according to UK property consultancy Knight Frank.

The company’s Global House Price Index rose by just 1.5% in the year to September 2011 – the worst level recorded since the second quarter of 2009 with house prices falling in more than half of the countries monitored in the third quarter.

Not surprisingly, Greece was one of the worst-performing countries, with prices falling 4.1% year-on-year. Hong Kong was the strongest, with prices rising 19% over the same period. However the city-state saw its prices drop 1.1% in the third quarter.

“The third quarter saw mounting pressures on the global economy with politicians seemingly helpless to get to grips with the eurozone debt crisis,” said Knight Frank. “This has reawakened fears of a double-dip recession, not just in Europe but around the world. Unsurprisingly, this economic uncertainty has been reflected in the performance of the world’s housing markets.”

At a regional level Europe was the worst performer, being the only area to record a negative growth (-0.5%) while luxury markets continued to hold strong.

“Luxury housing markets appear to be better insulated from this new weaker phase than mainstream markets,” added Knight Frank. “This is due in part to the scale of global wealth generation, the ongoing search for ‘safe-haven’ investments and the growing divide between prime markets in the West and the rest of the world.”

Other notable countries include China, 6th in the table with a 8.9 per cent rise, Germany, 20th with a 2.8 per cent rise, the US, 39th with a -3.9 per cent loss and troubled Greece, which came 40th, with the average house losing -4.1 per cent of its value.

Canada’s housing market fared well with prices up 4 per cent in 2011 compared to the year before. Rising property prices in Vancouver’s housing market have certainly contributed to this.

Global House Price Index

Global House Price Index

Real estate sales in downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano and North Vancouver

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Vancouver Sun January 14th, 2012

1704 – 550 Taylor Street, Vancouver

Type: 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment
Size: 785 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $498,000
Listed for: $499,000
Sold for: $490,000
Sold on: Nov. 30
Days on market: 42
Listing agent: Natalia Antosh at HomeLife Benchmark Realty
Buyers agent: Seth Baker at Royal LePage Westside

The big sell: Chinatown, with its unique Vancouver heritage, has a growing interest among buyers who enjoy the eclectic neighbourhood and access to downtown. Buyer’s agent Seth Baker reports that his clients grew up in the area, and having witnessed its ongoing evolution, were looking to return. This corner unit in the Taylor building impressed them with its 17th-floor panoramic vistas over Chinatown, the docks and the North Shore. In fact, every window has a view. Since its construction in 2005, the home had been totally redone with an upscale kitchen, track lighting and concrete floors. The dining room was built to entertain, with 7-by-17-foot dimensions that will accommodate “house-sized” furniture. There is a den, separate storage both inside and outside the apartment, and parking. The SkyTrain, Costco, Andy Livingstone Park, and Tinseltown are all within walking distance.

305 — 1425 Cypress Street, Vancouver

Type: 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment
Size: 700 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2012: $392,500
Listed for: $409,000
Sold for: $410,000
Sold on: Dec. 5
Days on market: 6
Listing agent: Pamela Smith at Macdonald Realty
Buyers agent: Amanda Crosby at RE/MAX Select Properties

The big sell: Properties that come on the market in the Kits point neighbourhood usually attract attention because of their proximity to the beach, downtown and the amenities on Fourth Avenue. Listing agent Pamela Smith reports that the first — and only — open house that she held for this loft-style condo was packed with potential purchasers. A multiple-offer situation resulted in an accepted, subject-free bid slightly over the asking price. In addition to the location of the home, the main attraction was in the renovated interior. It has wall-to-wall California closets in the 14-by-17-foot mezzanine bedroom, two skylights, a remodelled bathroom with an extra-large soaker tub, undermount sinks, granite countertops, an open-plan kitchen with a centre island that also houses an electric fireplace built into the end-facing living room, a walk-in pantry, and new hardwood flooring and carpet throughout. The building is pet- and rental-friendly.

1159 West Keith Road, North Vancouver

Type: 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom detached
Size: 4,587 sq. ft.
BC Assessment, 2012: $1.123 million
Listed for: $1.188 million
Sold for: $1.125 million
Sold on: Dec. 14
Days on market: 78
Listing agent: Karim Virani at Virani Real Estate Advisors
Buyers agent: Carole Yang at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty

The big sell: This impressive Pemberton Heights view property was built in 1983 and renovated in 2007, presenting the owners with accommodation that can suit any living situation. The four levels hold a plethora of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as two kitchens, a family room, office, storage room and separate living and dining areas, all finished to exacting standards. The uppermost floor has a modern open-concept kitchen with stainless steel appliances and custom cabinetry. The southern exposure and multiple decks ensure that all occupants can enjoy the views and the garden on the 50-by-126-foot lot. With a potential rental income of $5,000-plus per month, this could be a good investment opportunity. Pemberton Heights is an area of North Vancouver east of Capilano Road and south of the Trans-Canada Highway, with easy access to Lions Gate Bridge and numerous schools, parks and trails.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Real Estate sales in Vancouver and Port Moody

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Vancouver Sun January 7th, 2012

430 Carlsen Place, Port Moody

Type: 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom townhouse
Size: 1,749 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $370,000
Listed for: $399,800
Sold for: $389,000
Sold on: Nov. 28
Days on market: 7
Listing agent: Terry Osti at RE/MAX Crest Realty Westside
Buyers agent: Nick Parente at Prudential United Realty

The big sell: One of the reasons this three-bedroom townhome in Port Moody’s Eagle Point complex sold in seven days can be attributed to simple math: With a sale price of $389,000, the cost per square foot for the three-level property works out to $222.41 — about half the cost of a similar-sized townhouse in Vancouver. Other attractions are its comprehensive renovations: there’s a gourmet kitchen with dark wood cabinets accented by a glass tile backsplash; a designer colour scheme throughout; new flooring that’s a mix of laminate, tile and carpet; three new bathrooms; and custom-made blinds. As well, there is a private detached garage, and green space to the front and rear of the home. The building has recently benefited from updated windows and a new roof, deck and paintwork, and the communal amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and playgrounds. The property is close to shops, restaurants, Eagle Ridge Hospital, Port Moody’s Civic Centre, the Inlet Theatre and Galleria, and schools and transportation.

6984 Rupert St., Vancouver

Type: 5-bedroom, 2-bathroom detached
Size: 2,250 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $875,100
Listed for: $974,800
Sold for: $976,000
Sold on: Dec. 5
Days on market: 8
Listing agent: Joanne Taylor at Sutton Group – West Coast Realty
Buyers agent: John Lee at Royal Pacific Realty

The big sell: According to agent Joanne Taylor, there are specific reasons why this 50-year-old rancher achieved multiple offers the day after its first — and only — open house, offers that resulted in a winning bid over the asking price. Vancouver’s Killarney area is of particular interest to property purchasers due to its proximity to Fraserview Golf Course, Champlain Mall, and other community amenities. The fact that it is one of the last areas in the city that is yet to be fully developed also increases its appeal to buyers and investors. This home had been well maintained. It has an updated kitchen, a fully finished basement with a 1,125-square-foot suite, original hardwood flooring protected under the carpet, a two-year-old roof, two gas fireplaces, and a fully fenced 143-foot-deep back yard with room for a fish pond, patio, storage shed and two-car garage.

4 — 3160 West 4th Ave., Vancouver

Type: 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom townhouse
Size: 832 sq. ft.
B.C. Assessment, 2011: $516,000
Listed for: $514,800
Sold for: $500,000
Sold on: Dec. 4
Days on market: 29
Listing agent: Colette Gerber at RE/MAX Select Properties
Buyers agent: Ruthie Shugarman at Dexter Associates Realty

The big sell: This townhouse in the Avanti complex on Vancouver’s West Fourth Avenue is accessed via an inner courtyard, and according to agent Colette Gerber, that acts as a buffer against the traffic noise and creates a much quieter interior. Since it was built in 2000, the seller has upgraded the unit and installed some mirror arrangements that give the illusion of a much larger space. The home has a gas fireplace, engineered hardwood flooring, and has been painted in designer hues. The rear patio — with its south-facing exposure — ensures that maximum light enters the home. Both bedrooms are upstairs; the front one has been transformed into an office/guest room through the addition of a Murphy bed and a built-in desk and shelving. There is a large in-suite storage area, underground parking, and the building is pet- and rental-friendly.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

The price of homes in Canada is set to rise in 2012

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The price of homes in Canada will continue rising this year, but Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets will grow much more slowly, predicts the country’s largest real estate broker.

Low mortgage rates will continue underpinning housing demand despite the weakening economy, said Royal LePage Real Estate Services in its annual housing outlook Thursday.

LePage president and CEO Phil Soper said that predictions from housing experts and economists for a drop in prices for 2012 are wrong as mortgage rates remain near record lows.

“Interest rates are the primary driver behind activity levels in the marketplace,” Soper said. “People buy homes on the payments that they will be making, not on the sticker price of a particular home.”

Most experts believe interest rates will remain stable for this year and well into next as the economy expands sluggishly, but eventually rates should rise with stronger growth.

Royal LePage, which franchises real estate agencies across the country, predicted the national average price for resale homes will rise 2.8 per cent by the end of the year.

The forecast follows a gain of 4.2 per cent in the national average price for a standard two-storey home to $375,427 in the just completed fourth quarter of 2011.

In Vancouver, a standard two-storey home had an average price of $1.1 million in the fourth quarter, up 10.9 per cent from a year earlier, while Toronto saw a home in the same category gain 4.2 per cent to $629,000.

But for 2012, Royal LePage expects prices in Vancouver to gain about 2.3 per cent, while Toronto is expected to see growth of 2.6 per cent.

Regina is expected to lead the country with gains of five per cent for the year, reflecting the sharp growth in Saskatchewan, a province rich in potash, oil, uranium and other resources.

Soper noted that affordability in Vancouver is “on a knife’s edge” as people spend upwards of 70 per cent of their post-tax income on their mortgage, property taxes and utilities.

The economic slowdown in China may also affect the market in Vancouver, which has a large Chinese-Canadian population with economic and business ties to China.

“If the investment from China slows, it will change the high-end and certain neighbourhoods,” Soper said, noting that the west side of Vancouver, West Vancouver and Richmond have all seen in influx of wealthy Chinese buyers.

The International Monetary Fund has said that Canadian homes on average are 10 per cent overpriced and warned it may be a factor that puts the country’s economic recovery at risk.

The Bank of Canada has also repeatedly cautioned prospective buyers to guard against being lured by low mortgage costs because interest rates and therefore monthly payments, will eventually increase as the economy gets stronger.

However Soper suggested that moves made by Ottawa to tighten mortgage lending rules have helped limit the risks.

“The government has made small but significant regulatory changes that have restricted access to the more risky mortgage products post the recession,” he said.

The Royal LePage forecast came as the Statistics Canada reported the price of new homes rose again in November, led by gains in Toronto and Montreal.

The government agency’s new housing price index rose 0.3 per cent in November, after a 0.2 per cent increase in October. On an annual basis, the index was 2.5 per cent higher in November compared with November 2010.

The largest year-over-year price increases reported by Statistics Canada were in Toronto and Oshawa, Ont., where they were up 6.2 per cent.

In the fourth quarter, the average price for detached bungalows rose 7.2 per cent from a year earlier to $532,137; prices for standard two-storey homes rose 4.2 per cent to $629,188 and standard condos rose 3.4 per cent to $347,659.

In Victoria and Saint John, N.B., house prices were flat or slightly down in the fourth quarter year over year.

In Saint John, detached bungalows fell 2.2 per cent year-over-year to $179,946, while standard two-storey properties slipped 0.3 per cent to $298,076. Condos were the exception, with average prices climbing 16.1 per cent year-over-year to $159,370, although LePage said those increases weren’t typical.

In Victoria, standard two-storey homes were unchanged, with prices remaining at $480,000 while detached bungalows slipped 0.8 per cent to $486,000 and condos dropping 1.1 per cent to $282,000.

Source: Craig Wong, The Canadian Press

The number of new homes being built in Metro Vancouver was up 17% in 2011

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Housing starts jumped 17 per cent last year in Metro Vancouver as buyer interest improved and builders responded by launching new projects.

The 17,867 new starts across the region was about 2,600 higher than 2010 and more than twice as many as in 2009, when the construction industry swooned amid the global financial crisis.

“The bounce back has been very dramatic,” Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association president and CEO Peter Simpson said.

He expects 2012 to be a “steady as she goes year” with out any huge spikes or drops.

Builders are still being cautious, he said, because they have no control over whether interest rates climb or if there’s more global economic turbulence.

Another area of uncertainty remains the dismantling of the harmonized sales tax (HST), which Simpson said he wishes would happen faster than the province’s target of April 2013.

Buyers of more expensive homes priced above the HST rebate threshold can avoid the seven per cent provincial tax portion if they wait until the HST is repealed and B.C. returns to a provincial sales tax along with the federal GST.

Simpson said that’s also prompting some home owners to delay major renovations.

“It’s still a concern,” he said of the HST, but added it no longer seems to be the first question prospective buyers ask.

“People buying homes realize if they wait the savings in HST could conceivably be offset by higher housing prices and higher interest rates down the road.”

Almost 80 per cent of the new units started last year were in multi-family developments, up from 70 per cent in 2010.

“Multi-family starts fueled growth in new home construction in 2011,” said Robyn Adamache, senior market analyst for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

In contrast, just 3,686 detached houses were started last year down, 19 per cent from more than 4,500 in 2010.

Surrey’s single detached house starts fell to 1,091 from more than 1,900 but the drop was more than offset by increased multi-family construction.

“Solid market trends and a more positive economic outlook compared to a year ago have provided the impetus for developers to undertake larger projects,” Adamache said.

Richmond and Surrey both saw 1,000 more multi-family units – that includes new townhomes in Surrey and new condos in Surrey – started in 2011 than the previous year.

Richmond saw the biggest growth surge, with starts up 86 per cent, followed by North Vancouver with a gain of 81 per cent and Langley up 41 per cent.

The most starts in the region were recorded in Surrey and Vancouver – both had just over 3,800 starts – followed by Richmond at 2,636, Burnaby at 1,611 and Coquitlam at 1,442.

Further east in the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford saw a four per cent increase in starts to 537.

Source: Jeff Nagel, Surrey North Delta Leader

How important are BC’s property assessments? (Apart from the fact our property taxes are tied to them)

Friday, January 6th, 2012

The 2012 property assessments for British Columbians being mailed this week confirm what we already knew: House prices in Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond are high and still climbing. However, declines in assessed values in the Sea to Sky region, including Whistler, may have caught some by surprise.

Most single-family homes in Vancouver have increased in value by 10-to-25 per cent, according to area assessor Jason Grant, with a typical home on a 33-foot lot on the west side assessed at $1.6 million, up from $1.2 million last year.

On the east side, the example provided by BC Assessment shows an increase to just over $1 million from $816,000 a year ago.

Apartment values are up more modestly, but a two-bedroom apartment on the west side is quoted at $666,000, up 3.7 per cent from last year’s $642,000.

Assessments are established by analyzing recent sales as well as age, size, condition, location and other characteristics of a property. But the assessed value may – in fact, often does – vary from the market value when it’s time to buy or sell.

The main function of the assessment is not to set a benchmark for a market price but rather to calculate property taxes. The assessed value is multiplied by the mill rate set by city council, which in Vancouver in 2010 was $2.14 per $1,000 of assessed value. The property tax on a $1-million home then would have been $2,140 although the total on the tax invoice would be much higher because the city also collects funds for other agencies, including the regional district, school taxes for the B.C. government, TransLink, the Municipal Finance Authority and BC Assessment itself. There is also a shift in the tax burden from business to residents that adds another two per cent or so.

For the city, the important number is the total assessment roll, which increased to $254 billion in the 2012 assessment from $222 billion a year earlier. From this base, the city finance department determines what rate would be required to generate the same level of revenue as the year before and then calculates the rate needed to produce enough additional revenue to finance its operations for the coming year.

The vast majority of taxpayers, close to 99 per cent, do not dispute the assessment on their property. Some may even take delight in the rising value of their homes.

But for all their care, provincial assessors can easily miss improvements that would command a higher listing price, so would-be sellers should get an independent appraisal.

While it is entertaining to cruise the BC Assessment website and compare the value of your home to others, every property is unique and every buyer has his or her own criteria for investing in real estate.

Both buyers and sellers should use caution in their use of the information provided by BC Assessment.

Homeowners planning to neither buy nor sell and who have no objection to the values ascribed to their proper-ties need not concern themselves with BC Assessment’s latest revelations. An assessment notice is not a report card. It’s simply an estimate of what real estate may be worth.

If you have a roof over your head, heat, hot water and enough room to raise your brood, it doesn’t much matter if the provincial assessor says its value is up or down five, 10 or 20 per cent.

It’s your home. Enjoy it.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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