Saanich News

Property values decline across Greater Victoria

Chances are when you open your 2013 assessment notice from B.C. Assessment this week you'll see your property value has decreased since last year.

Most homeowners in Greater Victoria will see a two- to six-per-cent drop in their home's assessed value, but B.C. Assessment's area assessor for Greater Victoria calls the slight decrease "comforting."

"I would probably characterize this as a stable market, actually," said Reuben Danakody. "We're not seeing the year-over-year increases, those substantial increase in values that we used to see before. It's not bad news, it's comforting news, that the values are still very stable. We don't want to see what was occurring the past few years down south."

Of the region's 18 assessment jurisdictions, only Langford and Oak Bay saw average increases in residential property values, at 0.47 per cent and 0.78 per cent, respectively.

"The numbers are very specific to local markets. Oak Bay is a very strong market and it still continues to see strong investor demand. … People are still paying fairly premium dollars to get in to Oak Bay," Danakody said. "And Langford is a growing area; they're very aggressively growing new developments out there. The affordable, single-family market is growing (in Langford)."

The largest average declines in the Capital Region came from the Peninsula, with Sidney reporting a 5.64 per cent drop and North Saanich seeing a 3.65 per cent decline. Victoria and Saanich saw average decreases between two and three per cent.

Danakody says the assessment trends indicate, economically speaking, the real estate market has corrected itself "quite well."

"We're not seeing substantial declines in assessed values, which would be very concerning to many people," he said. "Certainly we've seen significant impacts in other (B.C.) markets. Greater Vancouver's seeing more of a decline than Greater Victoria, for example. The Vancouver market ... (had) a lot of aggressive investment speculation and the market became overheated. We tend not to get that aggressive here."

Shelley Mann, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board, says she anticipates homeowners will open their assessment expecting the property value to be higher than it is.

"I think it's going to be interesting to see how the seller takes into consideration the assessed value versus what the actual market value is," she says. "One thing that's happening, though, is the economy is growing. There's more full-time jobs in Victoria, and people are still retiring here. We're anticipating an increase (in home sales) this year."

Danakody stresses to homeowners that their assessment is not based on the current market, but on numbers from July 2012.

"The market has softened since July. It's important to look back, right in the middle of summer 2012 – if (your house) was to sell on the marketplace, it would've been worth that much," he said.

Mann recommends to people who are looking to sell take the assessments with a grain of salt, given the fluctuations in the real estate market over the last six months.

"(Assessments) really don't determine the market value of a property. They're great if you want to try and determine a sale price by looking at the neighbours next door that sold."

There is an appeals process for homeowner who aren't satisfied with their property's assessment. Prior to appealing, however, Danakody suggests homeowner do their due diligence and visit bcassessment.ca to compare properties and assessments in their areas. As well, he recommends contacting the B.C. Assessment office to speak with an appraiser about your property's value.

"Our job is to provide information and rationale as to how we arrive at that assessment," Danakody said. "In some cases there are errors, and we can make a change to the value outside the appeal process."

B.C. Assessment analyzes sales transactions using such information as location and buildings, and trends in the real estate market to determine the assessed property values.

For more information, visit bcassessment.ca.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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