Assessments up again; market showing signs of slowdown 

Single-family homes increased in value by 11 per cent in 2018

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WHISTLER REAL ESTATE CO. - SURGING STRATAS While growth in single-family home valuations dropped to 11 per cent last year (after two years of 20-per-cent increases), strata residential properties, like condos and townhouses, saw a 23-per-cent increase in value.
  • PHOTO courtesy of the Whistler Real Estate Co.
  • SURGING STRATAS While growth in single-family home valuations dropped to 11 per cent last year (after two years of 20-per-cent increases), strata residential properties, like condos and townhouses, saw a 23-per-cent increase in value.

While Whistler is still seeing an across-board-increase in its property assessments, the local real estate market is showing signs of softening.

Local property values for single-family homes rose, on average, 11 per cent overall between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018, according to BC Assessment (from $1.74 million to $1.93 million).

The increase comes after back-to-back 20-per-cent increases in 2016 and 2017.

Strata residential properties, meanwhile, increased in value by 23 per cent (from $781,000 to $962,000).

But owners can expect a range of values, said Keith MacLean-Talbot, acting deputy assessor for BC Assessment's Greater Vancouver region.

"For strata markets, so condos and townhouses, owners will see anywhere from zero-per-cent to 30-per-cent increases, and the single-family homes will see anywhere from zero per cent to 20 per cent, with the average being 11 per cent for the single-family home market," MacLean-Talbot said.

Overall, Whistler's total assessed roll for residential properties increased again last year, from $15.9 billion to $17.4 billion.

The numbers are slowing down somewhat, but it's not like Whistler doesn't exist anymore, said Ann Chiasson, of Re/Max Sea to Sky.

"Softening is a hard word to say, but things are stabilizing a little bit ... we're seeing product sit out there for longer," Chiasson said.

While Re/Max sales figures show an overall lower number of units sold in 2018 compared to the previous two years, it was only in the second half of the year (after BC Assessment's July 1 deadline) that sales started to slow down.

Chiasson's advice for prospective buyers would be to look at what's available, negotiate and be comfortable with the value, she said.

"Whistler is still moving along, we still have people looking. The reality is that we aren't going anywhere, and we have lots of skiing," she said, adding that the resort is still waiting to see what effects Vail Resorts' Epic Pass might have on the real estate market.

"I believe there will be people that come here on an Epic Pass, see the value of our properties compared to where else they ski, and go, 'Holy man, this is free!'" she said. "The Vail effect will be there, it's just a matter of when."

The 2019 assessment is also generally consistent with what Whistler Real Estate Co. president Pat Kelly has seen in the market lately.

Like Chiasson, Kelly reported a slower second half in 2018.

"I think there's a lot of things that have all contributed to a slowdown, call it what you want: a drag on buyer confidence, rising interest rates, more government regulation aimed at real estate that's making it more uncertain, a volatile stock market, slowdown in real estate around the world generally," Kelly said. "A lot of major markets are experiencing a downturn for all the same reasons."

One market segment that is seeing higher demand locally is properties that can be rented, Kelly said, as owners look to bolster their income.

"That is an area that has seen a lot more buyers looking to buy, and that has pushed prices," he said.

With the Vancouver market also cooled (now seeing its lowest levels of activity in 18 years), it could impact Whistler as well, Kelly said.

"All of that factors into the decision-making process, whether it's directly or indirectly, and people will be a bit more conscious," he said.

"So I would think going forward ... I expect we'll continue to see a much lower rate of appreciation, and probably lower levels of activity, which means sellers should really try to be up to date with what's going on currently, and not live in what happened in 2017, because that's not the reality right now."

BC Assessment's total assessed roll for commercial properties in Whistler in 2019 was $2.03 billion.

"Generally speaking, the average change for those properties was 23.36 per cent, and again, there will be a range that owners will see, anywhere probably from the five-per-cent range up to 45 per cent," MacLean-Talbot said.

In Squamish, single-family homes increased by six per cent, on average ($875,000 to $927,000), while Pemberton saw a 14-per-cent increase ($727,000 to $828,500).

Owners have until Jan. 31 to appeal their assessment. Head to www.bcassessment.ca for more.

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