Pemberton, Squamish markets re-evaluated after flooding 

Little market activity means few facts for BC Assessment to go on

BC Assessment is scrambling to adjust its property assessments in Pemberton and Squamish after October’s flooding caused damages to properties in both towns.

The agency must also assess the land value over the past year, which would also include the impacts of the flooding. This is proving difficult.

Jim McClure, deputy assessor at BC Assessment, said they are talking to local realtors, reviewing all the sales that are taking place and trying to get a good handle on how or if the market has changed.

But one of the biggest challenges is that there hasn’t been a lot of real estate movement in those markets since the flooding he said.

"The likelihood is, very few of those properties are selling," said McClure.

"So we believe that there has been obviously a downward impact on the marketplace but we deal in facts... we actually need something to hang our hat on which is going to be a little bit more difficult just because of the timing."

July 1 is technically the evaluation date for the 2004 assessment roll but the physical condition date of homes is on Oct. 31. This allows things like new construction or renovations to be considered in the roll.

"In this case, because the flood actually took place on the 17 th , 18 th of October, then all of the impacts of the flood have to be considered as if they existed on July 1," said McClure.

"We are reviewing the sales and at this point in time there is very little evidence at all to help us identify what the market place has done in those areas."

Whistler Real Estate owner Pat Kelly agrees the activity in those areas is down but he said that’s usual for this time of the year and is not necessarily a reflection on the flooding.

"We haven’t seen any particular drop in prices," he said.

"I think there’s been a drop in activity. There has been for a while. Prices have gone up significantly in the last 18 months in the Pemberton area and at some point that stops. That’s normal."

The same is true for the Squamish market, which saw a rapid escalation in prices recently but has now slowed down.

Kelly said there simply isn’t enough data at this point that could make him draw any conclusions about the effect of the flooding on the real estate markets in those areas.

"The market has been extremely strong of course up in Pemberton, and Squamish as well, so that in those areas that are flooded, it’s very likely that the assessment will still be increasing for next year," said McClure.

But land value isn’t the only thing BC Assessment has to consider in the next few weeks as it prepares the assessment roll.

Individual property assessments in the areas might also change if there has been significant flood damage to the property.

"We are working with the PEP (Provincial Emergency Program) people to have those properties identified where damage took place to the property so that we can adjust our assessments accordingly," said McClure.

But flood damage can mean different things to different people he said.

In the 1984 Pemberton flood McClure remembers talking to some farmers who had eight inches of silt on their land. Rather than seeing that as a negative feature, the farmers considered it a bonus and had bumper crops from well-fertilized soil that year.

"But if you’re a single family home (owner) and you’re getting damage to your property... it’s obviously going to have some impact on the value of your property," said McClure.

"But keep in mind the market value is the willing buyer and the willing seller. It’s not just somebody saying ‘get me the heck out of town.’

"Our observations in a couple of investigations that we’ve done, suggest that where basements are damaged, the damage is in the range of $5,000, maybe $10,000. For some people it could be significantly more and for some people it could be even less."

BC Assessment is trying to re-evaluate properties with help from PEP, which has a record of property owners who have filed for damages in the flood.

"We are working closely with PEP to get these issues resolved before the roll is closed," said McClure.

The completed assessment roll will be put out at the end of December. McClure encourages anyone who has concerns or thinks their assessment is wrong to get in touch the BC Assessment in the New Year.


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