Property values falling in Whistler, Sunshine Coast, North Shore

“Significant” decreases are occurring in the value of real estate in Whistler, Pemberton, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island, but much of B.C. is remaining stable.

BC Assessment, a crown corporation which assesses property values, said Wednesday that homeowners in resort communities such as Whistler will see their property values decline in 2013.

“For the first time in many years, a significant number of properties in the Vancouver Sea to Sky region are decreasing in value,” said assessor Jason Grant in a news release.

Pat Kelly, president of Whistler Real Estate, said vacation properties are still feeling the effects of a massive real estate downturn which began in the U.S. four years ago.

“A year or so ago there was some [additional] consolidation of the market in Whistler,” Kelly said. “The value of a vacation and luxury home is a function of consumer confidence.

“The economy is still very uncertain. There’s some hangover from the 2009 real estate meltdown in North America,” he said.

“Credit isn’t quite as available as it used to be. People are more conservation spending the extra $100,000,” he said.

BC Assessment said one Whistler property’s 2013 notice dropped by $65,000 to $969,000 from 2012.

There were also significant dips in the North Vancouver District. One single-family home in Blueridge dropped $60,000 to $850,000.

No average assessment values were provided by BC Assessment, which only released data from individual properties.

Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, changes in assessment values will range from as much as minus 10 per cent to plus 15 per cent.

UBC real estate professor Tsur Somerville said the provincial data is difficult to explain because “no one thing is going on.”

“Kitimat is up. It’s not surprising because they’re building an LNG plant. Certainly resource communities are up because stuff is happening,” he said.

“The Interior is seeing a little bit of a pickup because of Alberta purchases. Most of the Lower Mainland is pretty flat. There are hits on Whistler and the Sunshine Coast. Some areas like Richmond are down a bit,” he said.

“It’s hard to put any one label on it. If you take away Richmond, West Vancouver and Vancouver, there was not much of a run-up in 2011,” he said. “Prices peaked in the spring of 2012.”

In the Fraser Valley, homeowners will see “minimal” changes to their values. Langley Township, Chilliwack, Maple Ridge and Abbotsford are “remaining stable,” said assessor John Green.

The value of a single family home increased in the Whalley area of Surrey by $17,500 to $454,000.

On Vancouver’s West Side, values decreased. A single-family home on a 33-foot lot dropped $73,000 to $1.256 million.

Property owners can expect to receive their 2013 assessments in the next few days.

The numbers provide the foundation for local and provincial authorities to raise $6.2 billion in property taxes each year.

Somerville said angst concerning the relationship between assessed values and tax increases is often misplaced.

“Given the way that governments increase taxes, assessments don’t matter as long as the property in your jurisdiction is moving the same way as other properties. Your taxes are going up because governments are spending more,” he said.

The total number of properties on the 2013 roll is 1,935,426, an increase of 0.92 per cent from 2012.

The total value of real estate in B.C. is $1.29 trillion. New construction and development accounted for an increase of $16.64 billion.

Craig Barnsley, deputy assessor for the South Fraser region, said assessments can be challenged.

“Property owners who feel that their assessment does not reflect market value as of July 1, 2012 should contact our office,” he said.

To find out more, go to and click on the e-valueBC link.

The provincial government said homeowner grants will rise by $10,000 across the province to keep pace with the overall rise in values. The grant threshold will now be $1.295 million.

“At least 95 per cent of B.C. homeowners are eligible for the grant,” said Minister of Finance Michael de Jong.


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