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A 'For sale' sign sits on the lawn of a five-bedroom home for sale for more than $3.3-million in the neighborhood of Point Grey in Vancouver on Friday October 7, 2011. (Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail/Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail)
A 'For sale' sign sits on the lawn of a five-bedroom home for sale for more than $3.3-million in the neighborhood of Point Grey in Vancouver on Friday October 7, 2011. (Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail/Darryl Dyck For The Globe and Mail)

MUNICIPAL TAXES

B.C. property assessments all over the map Add to ...

Homeowners in Whistler can expect lower property assessments this year, their counterparts in some Vancouver neighbourhoods can anticipate double-digit increases, and people in other cities and regions will likely see little or no change.

The variations are consistent with real estate trends of the past year, said Tsur Somerville, a professor at University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

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“West Vancouver, the west side of Vancouver and parts of Richmond are in their own separate universe in terms of price increases – and everywhere else is much flatter,” Dr. Somerville said on Tuesday.

Some “spillover” in the Lower Mainland has helped push up assessments in areas such as Vancouver’s East Side, he added. The typical assessment for a single-family East Side home has climbed to $1-million from $816,000 last year.

On the West Side, the assessment for a single-family home on a 33-foot lot has climbed to $1.3-million from $1-million. The figure for a house on a 50-foot lot in the same area went to $1.6-million from $1.2-million.

Most homeowners in Vancouver can expect increases of 10 to 25 per cent over last year’s assessment.

The B.C. Assessment Authority posted 2012 assessment information on Tuesday. Provincial and municipal governments use the assessment roll to set property taxes, which pump more than $6.2-billion a year into government revenue.

In Richmond, owners can expect increases of five to 30 per cent for single family houses.

In the North Fraser region, which includes Burnaby and Port Moody, homeowners can expect modest changes ranging from 5-per-cent declines to 15-per-cent increases, with the exception of neighbourhoods such as Burnaby’s Buckingham Heights, where assessments could rise by as much as 25 per cent



In Kitimat, homes have increased in value and owners can expect assessments to climb by between 5 and 10 per cent.

In Whistler and Pemberton, however, the arrow is pointing in the opposite direction and homeowners can anticipate declines of up to 15 per cent.

“Whistler’s the same as it was,” said Pat Kelly, owner of Whistler Real Estate Co. “I think what you’re seeing is a reflection of the previous two or three years of economic volatility.”

A greater emphasis on value for money in all segments of the market is putting downward pressure on prices and slowing the pace of transactions, he added.

At the top end of the market, places once listed for $6-million are now being advertised for $4-million to $4.5-million, Mr. Kelly said.

The bulk of Whistler real estate transactions – about 85 per cent, according to Mr. Kelly – are townhouses and condominiums selling for less than $1-million.

Restraint is evident in that market as well, he said. “People’s approach to purchasing big-ticket items, particularly discretionary items, has changed dramatically. They’re buying what they need, maybe not going out there and buying what they want.”

Resorts and tourism spending suffer in times of global uncertainty, but Whistler remains an internationally known spot that offers good value compared with other resorts, Mr. Kelly said.

In Greater Victoria and in the Fraser Valley, assessments are expected to be flat or show small changes.

This marks the second year that B.C. assessments have topped the $1-trillion mark. The number of properties on the roll is 1.9 million, up 0.75 per cent from 2011.

On Tuesday, the province raised the threshold of the homeowners grant to $1.3-million, from $1.2-million. The grant provides a maximum reduction in residential property taxes on principal residences of $570 in the Capital, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts and $770 elsewhere in the province.

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