Archive for January, 2013

What is forecast for Vancouver’s real estate market?

Friday, January 25th, 2013

There is no real estate bubble in Vancouver and 2013 is a good time to buy — as long as interest rates remain low, immigration targets are met and Europe’s economy doesn’t melt down, a panel of real estate developers told more than 1,100 real estate professionals, business leaders and B.C. politicians on Thursday.

Colin Bosa, CEO of Bosa Properties, Tony Astles, executive vice-president of Bentall Kennedy, and Eric Carlson, president and CEO of Anthem Properties provided the Urban Development Institute’s annual market forecast while Diana McMeekin, president of Artemis Marketing, moderated.

Bosa said that as long as people continue to move to British Columbia, the real estate market will remain stable. He compared conditions in 2009 to those today and found that demand is similar, although immigration numbers were down in 2012 and two federal immigration programs — the investor program and the skilled worker program — are under review and could be subject to change.

In terms of supply, he said, more units were built in 2012 than 2009, but not many more than the 15-year average.

“The good news for all the salespeople in the room is, you’re going to sell lots of real estate this year, but the bad news is you’re going to have to work at it,” Bosa said, adding that projects near transit service will continue to sell well.

Southeast False Creek and Coquitlam Centre are two areas with a lot of unsold inventory, Bosa said. He said realtors in those areas might have to “sharpen their pencils” and that prices might decline.

However, he said Metro Vancouver condominium developers showed in 2009 that developers can “turn off the tap” quickly when the market slows.

Bosa said he believes people — and their money — from China will continue to flow into B.C. because they want to invest outside China and they want their children to grow up in North America.

“They like it in British Columbia because it’s safe and they’re accepted here,” Bosa said. “There is a good quality of life with universal health care and good schools.”

Two things that could stop the flow of people from China in to British Columbia would be a recession or a change to Canadian immigration policy, Bosa said.

“If you buy good real estate at fair prices, you can’t go wrong,” Bosa said. “It’s not that hard.”

Carlson said B.C. and Canada were protected between 2009 and 2011 while the rest of the world was reeling from the economic crisis. Canada did not really need the extremely low interest rates as much as the rest of the world, and the low rates coupled with immigration, stimulated the housing market.

“We felt a bit smug if we were provincial in our outlook. That ended in 2012. … We started to feel the malaise for the first time,” Carlson said.

But he forecast that 2013 would be a stronger year because of B.C.’s ties to China and the U.S., which are both seeing economic recovery.

“I think this is the year that the fear factor goes away,” Carlson said, adding that he believes immigration will pick up this year and recovery in the housing market in the U.S. will mean many new jobs are created.

“U.S. unemployment will go down to 6.5 per cent this year, while U.S. gross domestic product will be trending towards three per cent by the end of the year,” Carlson said, adding that he thinks 2013 is a good time to buy real estate.

“I don’t think there is a bubble at all,” Carlson said.

Astles predicted the office building market will remain stable in 2013. He warned that a lack of supply means no rent relief until 2016.

He said Burnaby and New Westminster might have some oversupply, but Vancouver’s downtown is healthy. He said multi-family rentals were a low-risk investment, particularly because of limited supply.

He said there are some challenges when it comes to labour, with employees leaving for higher pay in Edmonton and points North, and with many experienced workers retiring.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Canada’s housing market will get a boost over next 2 years from repeat buyers, says RE/MAX survey

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

A Re/Max survey says 70 per cent of home sales in the next 24 months will be to repeat buyers with some previous experience as owners.

The real-estate marketing organization says second-time or multi-time purchasers will be more fiscally conservative and don’t plan to over-extend themselves.

And it says slightly more than 80 per cent of potential buyers surveyed believed that housing values in their area will rise or remain the same.

Re/Max says 42 per cent of those surveyed said they expected to spend between $250,000 and $500,000.

The findings are in line with other research that found first-time buyers had been discouraged by stricter mortgage rules since last summer and affordability issues.

But the survey found first-time buyers aren’t sitting totally on the sidelines and will make up a third of the market.

The survey also says almost one in five buyers will be single.

“Purchasing patterns have evolved, with a more conservative, fiscally responsible purchaser moving to the forefront,” Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president and regional director of Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

Re/Max says second-time and multi-time buyers became a more important part of the market in the latter half of 2012.

“While affordability took a hit in 2012, homeowners with considerable equity remain confident and well-positioned. They will be the driving force fuelling the bulk of home sales in the months ahead,” Sandhu said in a news release.

While some buyers intend to downsize or make lateral moves, many of those trading up have amassed considered equity, he said.

Not surprisingly, of those putting down 30 per cent or more, 45 per cent were aged 55 and over, the survey said.

Sandhu noted that first-time buyers are experiencing a period of adjustment.

The survey indicted that singles would be the most cautious buyers with 47 per cent of purchasers intending to spend under $250,000.

Of the buyers planning to spend $500,000 to $1 million, almost half resided in Ontario, while the remaining 50 per cent were almost evenly divided between British Columbia and Alberta.

“Regardless of income, gender, age, or location, most Canadian respondents shared considerable confidence in Canada’s housing market,” Sandhu said.

“This stands as perhaps the greatest indicator that home buying intentions will remain healthy and stable. Combine this with an economic engine that is expected to gain momentum, and the outlook is most certainly positive.”

The national survey, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum in December, was conducted among 1,109 prospective purchasers who intend to buy within the next 24 months.

Re/Max is a leading real estate organization with more than 19,000 sales associates throughout its 750 independently-owned and operated offices in Canada

Source: LuAnn LaSalle, The Canadian Press

Latest news on Canada’s housing market

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

There are early signs of a “gradual correction” in the housing market following a period where consumer finances became “stretched,” Bank of Canada senior deputy Governor Tiff Macklem said in a speech last Thursday.

Canadian existing home sales fell in December, led by a drop in Vancouver, capping an annual decline in transactions, a national realtor group said.

Vancouver sales declined 5.3 per cent to 1,792 units in December from November, while across Canada, resales declined 0.5 per cent during the month to 35,386 units, the Canadian Real Estate Association said in a statement on Tuesday.

While the number of transactions dropped 17.4 per cent across Canada from a year earlier, the average home price rose 1.6 per cent to $352,787.

“Successive rounds of tightening mortgage regulations have kept the housing market in check during what has become an extended low interest rate environment,” Gregory Klump, the CREA’s chief economist, wrote in a separate report.

The average resale price in 2012 rose 0.3 per cent $363,740, and the total number of houses sold through the realtor group fell 1.1 per cent to 453,372, according to the group.

Tuesday’s report excluded figures for Quebec, which will be delayed until Jan. 22 at the request of the provincial real estate body, the group said in the report.

The CREA notes the correction in Canada’s housing market gathered momentum in December as the number of new listings slipped, prices moderated and the number of homes sold fell 17.4 per cent from a year earlier, the biggest drop-off in six months.

On a year-over-year basis, the CREA said Tuesday that 20,538 homes were sold across the country through its MLS system last month, down from 24,850 in December 2011, and 0.5 per cent lower than in November.

The increase in prices also continued to slow, tipping in at only 1.6 per cent from a year ago to $352,800 – about the level of overall inflation.

“The housing market is clearly in correction mode,” said Derek Holt, vice-president of economics at Scotia Capital.

“But this is certainly nothing even close to the U.S. and European experience and I don’t think we’re headed in that direction, but it’s still sizable.”

Analysts note sales are down by double digit margins since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tightened mortgage rules in July to cool the market, adding that it a needed correction to avoid a bigger problem in future.

Klump said he believes the new rules, on top of three previous rounds of tightening, have had an impact.

Since July, the market has experienced contractions in sales, construction, building permits and property listings.

The only anomaly is prices, which have continued to rise, although at a more measured pace.

Source: The Province

Rockland house for sale in Victoria

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Give up the commute for this spacious 4-bedroom property (approx. 1/2 acre) in peaceful residential Rockland in Victoria.

Enjoy the picturesque distant ocean and Olympic views from both floors of this charming home. The original home was built in 1954 and has enjoyed a few additions during its lifetime.

The living and dining rooms stretch across the sunny south side overlooking the gardens, tiered decks and vista. The office right off the gourmet kitchen is perfect for homework. Lots of room to breath in the 18 x 16 master suite with 5-piece ensuite. There a lovely quiet sitting room to hang out in as well.

The nanny, mom or older child will certainly enjoy the independent upper 1-bedroom accommodation.

Traditional, roomy and snug – the perfect place to come home to.

MLS # 318035

For further information, please see Rockland home for sale.

See which parts of BC are seeing rising real estate prices and sales

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The number of home sales and the average price of a home are falling in B.C., but not all parts of the province are feeling the same pain.

On Monday, the British Columbia Real Estate Association released numbers for December and the year that showed a drop in the number of sales, sales dollar volume and the average residential price. But most of that drop occurred in Metro Vancouver, while some areas of the province saw growth.

“The provincial numbers have been dragged down by Vancouver and the Fraser Valley in 2012 to a large degree and by Victoria and the Island,” BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir said. “That belies the fact that we did see sales up in the North. The North has done quite well in this post-recession period — pricing is quite strong and sales activity hasn’t seen the kind of volatility that we’ve seen in other markets.”

Muir also cited the Okanagan as showing some growth in sales in 2012, after remaining quite flat after the recession ended.

“So there is some glimmer of light in the Okanagan, and the Kootenays, which are benefiting from improved economic conditions in Alberta,” Muir said.

For the province as a whole, the number of sales dropped 11.8 per cent in 2012 from 2011, while the total sales dollar volume fell 19.1 per cent and the average residential price was $514,836, down 8.3 per cent from the year before.

“A notable pullback in consumer demand in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley during 2012 was more than enough to offset increases in home sales in the Okanagan, Kootenays and B.C. Northern regions,” Muir said. “At least half of the eight-per-cent decline in the B.C. average home price was the result of fewer luxury homes selling in Vancouver and fewer overall Vancouver home sales relative to the rest of the province in 2012.”

In Metro Vancouver, the number of sales dropped 22.7 per cent in 2012 from 2011, while the total sales dollar volume fell 27.7 per cent and the average residential price was $730,063, down 6.4 per cent from the year before.

But as Muir mentioned, there were some areas showing growth, including Kelowna (Okanagan Mainline), where the number of sales grew 11.8 per cent in 2012 from 2011, the total sales dollar volume rose 11.2 per cent and the average residential price was $377,979, up 0.5 per cent from the year before.

Another area with positive numbers in all categories is northern B.C., where the number of sales rose 3.9 per cent in 2012 from 2011, while the total sales dollar volume rose 10.8 per cent and the average residential price was $233,544, up 6.6 per cent from the year before.

Kamloops and Kootenay also showed small growth in all three categories.

For the month of December 2012, sales dollar volume for the province was down 28.6 per cent compared to December 2011, while the number of units sold fell 26.4 per cent and the average price was down three per cent to $498,205.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Waiting for a real-estate crash before you buy? What happens if it never comes?

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Like many others, Toronto public relations manager Megan Vickell is sitting on the real estate sidelines dreaming of bargains to come.

The 28-year-old has never owned a property and is hoping to scoop up a discounted Toronto condo when prices fall off today’s frothy record highs.

You can’t blame her for wanting to wait. Research firm Urbanation Inc. says Toronto’s average condo prices climbed to as high as $407 per square foot in 2012, a sharp rise from the $229 per square foot fetched in the first quarter of 2003.

The picture is not much different nationally. The average sale price across the country was $364,260 over the first 11 months of 2012, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Compare that to beginning of this boom when the average sale price across the country was $158,303 in 1999.

But what if the crash never comes?

Urbanation says preliminary condo results for the fourth quarter show prices are down 0.8% in Toronto year over year and Canada-wide home prices were also down 0.8% in November from a year ago. But, so far, that’s about it.

The one thing missing from the market, for all those people looking for a crash, is a catalyst or an event that will force people to reduce their asking prices. Before this housing market burns up in flames, it needs some type of spark.

And, if you talk to some people, that key event — two that come to mind are a spike in interest rates or job losses — is not happening any time soon.

“Crashes don’t just happen in a vacuum, you need a trigger,” says Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets. “I can’t point to any crisis in the history of crashes that didn’t have a trigger.”

In the United States, the trigger proved to be a sub-prime market and the expiry of teaser rates that jumped as much as four percentage points on some mortgages. Overnight, people couldn’t afford their homes.

“If you have a gradual increase in the rates this doesn’t happen,” says the economist, who predicts a decline in prices but only in the 5% to 10% range. The real estate industry is on the same page, continually calling for a soft landing.

What has people like Ms. Vickell excited and looking for a major decline in prices is the massive drop off in sales activity in some major markets. Nationally, sales were down almost 12% in November from a year ago. Vancouver remains the leading example where sales were down 22.7% in 2012 from a year earlier.

So you’re sitting on the sidelines, not buying at what many consider ridiculously high prices — the product of a 14-year boom that has only seen one mild pullback during the recession in 2008. But what if sellers simply refuse to lower their price, something that has happened so far in the markets where sales are drying up very fast. What’s next?

“I think stagnation is a good word for what will happen, it’s what we saw in the market from 1992 to 1997,” says Mr. Tal.

The CREA stats show the market nationally — albeit real estate can be a very regional story — did not move all that much in the 1990s before it took off in 1999. There were some corrections in the 5% range on a yearly basis but average prices from a bottoming out of $142,091 in 1990 had climbed to $154,768 by 1997 — an 8% increase that is paltry by today’s standards for such a long period.

“We are going to see a correction and the question is ‘what will emerge from that,’” said Mr. Tal. “The scenario is the market will not be strong, it will be stagnant.”

In this scenario, instead of people of people selling in a panic, they pull their homes off the market, waiting for a better day, refusing to sell at distressed prices. New listings and active listings will start to shrink.

“In the U.S., you had to sell your house because you were delinquent. If you tell me tomorrow the unemployment rate [in Canada] will jump to 12%, we will have a crisis,” said Mr. Tal.

Don Lawby, chief executive of the Century 21 Canada, and a charter member of the club that doesn’t see home prices dropping anytime soon, can’t see any desperation from sellers.

“The economy continues to be okay, people have jobs, interest rates are low,” said Mr. Lawby. “Historically, anytime when prices dropped it was tied to high unemployment and interest rates. It’s not the case today, people are not forced to sell, they are staying with their price.”

Still, Ms. Vickell’s patience may pay off. Even Mr. Lawby concedes that the condo sector may be hit. Developers who already have buildings under construction may be forced to scale down projects or lower prices on unsold units.

“They are going to be throwing in packages to sell,” says Mr. Lawby. “But the average homeowner, without an economic event, they have no need to sell.”

David Madani, Canada economist with Capital Economics, takes a more extreme view, predicting a price-drop of 25% in the next year or two across the country. Rapidly flagging sales are a sure sign his prediction will come to fruition, he says.

“We have to tell our clients ‘you don’t necessarily need a trigger.’ You reach a threshold point where people get afraid, where valuations have lost touch with fundamentals,” he says, adding there is a standoff between buyers and sellers before any crash. “Sellers eventually realize the market has shifted beneath them and they capitulate and drop their asking price.”

But Mr. Madani’s calls for a crash are being largely drowned out by the real estate industry’s steady calls for a soft landing.

Gregory Klump, chief economist with CREA, says history supports the notion that some sort of major event is needed to create a housing market collapse.

“In the late 1980s, it was a case of a spike in interest rates, in late 2008 and early 2009 it was a massive layoff,” said Mr. Klump. “You need a massive and extended economic shock and none of that is in the forecast.”

In the interim, people waiting for a decline a major decline in price will have to keep waiting, says Mr. Klump. Only time will tell if it ever materializes.

Source: Garry Marr, Financial Post

Vancouver house prices could fall a further 5%

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Vancouver’s house prices could fall a further five per cent before 2013 is over, a panel of real estate experts said Tuesday.

The BMO panel, led by Sal Guatieri, senior economist, BMO Capital Markets, said tougher mortgage rules and the suspension of the federal immigrant investor program could be factors in the slowdown in Vancouver.

“Nowhere is the housing market weaker than in British Columbia, where resales are down 17 per cent year to November and are well below the past decade norm,” Guatieri said. “Vancouver’s resales have plunged 31 per cent in the year to December and benchmark prices are down just over three per cent since the spring.”

He said the mortgage changes, limiting the life of a mortgage to 25 years from 30 and prohibiting mortgage insurance on homes more expensive than $1 million, will hit pricier markets the hardest. With housing prices estimated at 10-times family incomes, Guatieri said, “that puts Vancouver in the upper echelon of over-valued housing markets, not just in Canada, but across the world.”

He said many would-be house buyers are opting to buy condos, rent or move to other cities because of the high prices.

“What has supported Vancouver’s housing market, at least in the past five years, is not income, it’s wealth. A lot of that is foreign wealth, although we can’t quantify that.

Many buyers don’t even need a mortgage because they have the cash and they can buy a house outright,” Guatieri said.

“But that supply of people is diminishing, especially as prices have continued to go up.

Unless people continue to flood into Vancouver — foreign residents with a lot of money — that market looks very ripe for a meaningful correction — not a material one — of at least five per cent or so for the next year.”

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Homebuyers are still keen on single-family homes, says new report

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Single-family homes have been the winners over the long-term while apartments have been struggling, an analysis of Metro Vancouver real estate statistics released last week shows.

B.C. Assessment released 2013 assessments on Wednesday, while the region’s real estate boards released December and year-end information on Thursday.

“The resource that is scarce is land,” said Tsur Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate, Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C. “You can always build more condominiums, but if you want a backyard, there’s a limited space.”

He said that isn’t likely to change soon, despite the large cohort of baby boomers who could choose to downsize in the near future.

“Most people stay in their houses longer than you expect,” Somerville said. “They want space for the grandkids.”

Cameron Muir, B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist, said 80 per cent of the housing starts in Metro Vancouver are now for multi-family homes, so the stock of single-family homes is becoming a smaller and smaller portion of the market, thus earning an increasing premium.

“Since the end of 2009, the apartment and townhouse market has been essentially flat in terms of pricing,” Muir said. “Real elevation has come in the single-detached side.”

Over the past five years, single-family homes were the big winners, particularly in Burnaby, Vancouver and Richmond, where the five-year gains are still more than 20 per cent.

However, this year, for the first time in many years, a number of homeowners in some areas of B.C. will see a drop in their property assessments. In tony areas like Whistler and Vancouver’s west side, assessments fell, while more affordable areas like Surrey or the Tri-Cities, held their own.

On Thursday, the Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley real estate boards’ reports showed that both buyers and sellers are both holding off, waiting to see which direction prices will head. Both sales numbers and properties for sale are down, the numbers show.

The real estate boards’ reports provide information on the benchmark price of homes in each Lower Mainland community, and price performance in both the short and long term. Benchmark prices are the estimated sale of a typical property within a market. The data is divided into 85 categories, including 30 areas divided into single-family homes, apartments and townhouses. Some communities do not have housing in all three categories.

For example, comparing the benchmark price in December 2012 to December 2011, apartments in Whistler, South Surrey/White Rock and townhouses in North Surrey all saw their benchmark prices drop more than nine per cent. But not all apartments and townhouses were on the wrong side of the real estate equation: the biggest growth in benchmark prices was in townhouses in Whistler and Squamish and apartments in Pitt Meadows and North Surrey. For single-family homes, the benchmark price has not moved up or down by more than 6.5 per cent in any region, the data shows.

For more immediate trends, an analysis of the one-month change in benchmark price shows a drop of about four per cent in the benchmark prices of townhouses in South Surrey/White Rock and North Surrey and houses on the Sunshine Coast between November 2012 and December 2012. At the other end of the spectrum, there was an uptick of 5.8 per cent in the benchmark price of an apartment in North Burnaby between November and December, and one of 3.7 per cent on the benchmark price of an apartment in Pitt Meadows.

Year-over-year, 30 categories showed gains in benchmark price, while 58 categories showed losses. The five-year change, which compares benchmark prices from January 1, 2008, before the housing crash in the U.S., is negative in 43 categories. Those include apartments in 24 of 30 areas, townhouses in 12 of 30 areas and single-family homes in seven of 30 areas. The slide ranges from 39.1 per cent over five years for an apartment in Whistler to 0.5 per cent for an apartment in Tsawwassen.

Apartments in the city of Vancouver, in Burnaby South and in Ladner were the only dwellings to show gains in benchmark prices over the past five years, while townhouses showed gains in most areas over that period.

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

How much is your house worth? BC property assessments are out!

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

This year, for the first time in many years, a number of homeowners in some areas of B.C. will see a drop in their property assessment, B.C. Assessment said Wednesday.

The most significant decreases will be seen in Whistler, Pemberton, on the Sunshine Coast and on Bowen Island, said Jason Grant, B.C. Assessment Authority assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky region.

“In stark contrast to last year, where (more than) 25-per-cent increases weren’t unusual, most residential homeowners (in Vancouver Sea to Sky) will open their assessment this year and say, ‘I’m within about five per cent … of where I was last year,’” said Grant McDonald, deputy assessor for B.C. Assessment’s Vancouver Sea to Sky region.

“Looking at the city of Vancouver, if you drew a graph for a 10-year period from 2002 to 2012, it pretty much is a very steep curve in terms of value increases, with a blip in 2008 when values appeared to be falling a bit. Now it has sort of flattened off; the market is taking a bit of a breather.”

Last year, homeowners in some areas of Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby saw their assessments rise as much as 30 per cent, while some areas, such as Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton saw decreases of 10 to 15 per cent.

“Some of the markets that saw some pretty good run ups in prices in 2011, saw a kind of floating back to earth in 2012,” said Cameron Muir, B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist. “For example, we’ve seen the single-family, detached-home market on the west side of Vancouver show more softness after a relatively strong 2011.”

Property assessments for a given year reflect market value as of July 1 the previous year. B.C. Assessment does not provide averages, but it did provide some specific “representative examples” of properties and how much their values changed this year.

A 50-foot, single family lot on Vancouver’s west side that was assessed at $1,645,400 in 2012 is assessed at $1,622,900 for 2013, a drop of 1.3 per cent. A single-family home on a 33-foot lot on the west side of Vancouver is assessed at $1,256,200, a drop of 5.8 per cent compared to a 2012 assessment of $1,329,600.

On the city’s east side, a 33-foot single-family lot assessed at $1,031,300 last year is assessed at $1,081,700 this year, an increase of 4.9 per cent.

In Whistler, a single-family dwelling in Alpine Meadows that was assessed at $2,252,000 last year is assessed at $2,145,000 this year, a drop of 4.8 per cent. In Whistler Village, a two-bedroom apartment that was assessed at $491,000 last year is assessed at $429,000 this year, a drop of 12.6 per cent.

On Bowen Island, a non-waterfront single-family home that was assessed at $530,000 last year was assessed at $454,000 this year, a drop of 14.3 per cent. A waterfront home there dropped to $1.3 million from $1.7 million, a drop of 23.5 per cent.

Muir said both of those areas are dependent on recreational buyers, and that the strong Canadian dollar and concerns about the U.S. and global economy are affecting that market.

“When we look at recreation properties, as well as luxury properties, (they) tend to be much more volatile in pricing,” Muir said. “When times are very good, prices tend to climb much more rapidly than your typical home. At the same time when we see some weakness, they’re likely to decline more rapidly as well.”

In other areas of Metro Vancouver, some properties saw increases up to 10 per cent, while some areas saw drops of up to five per cent from last year.

For example, a single-family house in the Thompson area of Richmond that saw a 30-per-cent increase last year to $1,677,000, is this year assessed at $1,642,000, a drop of two per cent.

Two years ago, Richmond saw some properties increase as much as 17 per cent, while many West Vancouver and Vancouver homeowners saw jumps in assessment of 12 or 13 per cent. Whistler prices were down two per cent at that time.

B.C. Assessment does provide percentage changes in the total value of properties in a region, but this amount is not an average change that homeowners will see on their assessments because it includes new construction and other non-market factors such as renovations and rezonings. Nonetheless, it is an indication of the general direction property assessments are moving in a given area.

For 2013, the total property roll for Vancouver increased 2.08 per cent, in Delta it rose 3.55 per cent, in Surrey it rose 5.15 per cent and in West Vancouver it rose 8.8 per cent. The total property roll in Whistler fell 3.81 per cent, on Bowen Island it fell 6.9 per cent and in Pemberton it fell 4.31 per cent.

Across the province, the total number of properties on the 2013 roll is 1,935,426, a 0.92-per-cent increase from 2012. The total value of real estate on the 2013 roll is $1,129,026,081,413, a 2.3-per-cent increase from 2012, B.C. Assessment said.

A drop in a property’s value does not necessarily translate into a drop in property taxes, which would only differ from a city’s budgeted increase if a particular property has gone up or down in value more than the average for other properties in the same community.

Property assessments for 2013 reflect market value as of July 1, 2012. Since that time, sales in Metro Vancouver have slowed and some prices have dropped.

“In markets that have declined in value since the summer of 2012, the 2013 property assessment may be higher than current sales or listing prices,” said Zina Weston, deputy assessor.

“We’ve seen quite a decline in the number of sales; so far for 2012 it’s down about 30 per cent, but the actual values haven’t really come off. In Vancouver, things are still selling for higher than we had on the assessment roll last year,” McDonald said.

People who feel that their property assessment does not reflect the home’s property value as of July 1, 2012, should contact the B.C. Assessment office for their area. Appeals will be accepted until January 31.

“It is a quieter year and I suspect that will be reflected in the number of inquiries we get,” McDonald said. “It will be interesting to watch the next few months to see what happens.”

One assessed value that is contentious is that of the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal; a recent decision by the Property Assessment Appeal Board slashed its value to just $20 from $47.7 million, meaning the District of West Vancouver will lose about $250,000 in property tax revenue. The District of West Vancouver plans to fight the assessment, which could have ramifications for other ferry terminals, in court.

The province increased the threshold for the Home Owners Grant for property taxes by $10,000 to $1.295 million to keep pace with rising property value assessments, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced Wednesday.

Assessments will be arriving in the mail in the next few days and are available online at

Source: Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

Real Estate Blogs