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Saying the wrong thing when you talk about the value of your home can lead to some awkward situations. (Julie Gordon/Reuters)
Saying the wrong thing when you talk about the value of your home can lead to some awkward situations. (Julie Gordon/Reuters)

British Columbia

How to gloat gracefully about your B.C. home’s new value Add to ...

With property assessments hitting mailboxes across the Lower Mainland this week, the jump in property values has been a hot topic of conversation in many circles.

But, let’s face it, talking about the huge increase in the value of your home can be tense at times, and saying the wrong thing can lead to some awkward social situations.

We talk a lot about real estate in Vancouver, but we rarely consider the etiquette and delicacy required when having these conversations.

We hope the following questions and answers will provide some guidance.

I just got my assessment in the mail and the value of my home has increased by 23 per cent this year. Should I gloat?

Well, that depends. Did you buy your house in 1984 for $88,000? Is it in Kitsilano? Has the value now exceeded $3-million? If so, then yes, by all means, gloat. Tell everyone around you how smart you were to have purchased the house when you did. Tell them that, even though you were a stoned and aimless hippie at the time, you “had a feeling, man.” Tell them that you can’t believe how things have worked out for you and that your house is now worth $3.1-million. Tell them how, at the time, you supplemented your seasonal income with generous unemployment-insurance benefits, and how you took winters off as part of “the UIC Ski Team” until you went to architecture school.

If they own their own home and it’s valued at less than $1.2-million, tell them how lucky they are to be eligible for the homeowner grant. Then tell them how you have been deferring your taxes since you turned 55 because the interest rate is so ridiculously low that you can actually make money by not paying tax. Tell them that all of your rich friends are doing the same. Tell them about your summer house on the Sunshine Coast/Gulf Island/Tofino and how you bought “at exactly the right time.”

Young people – like, people under 35 – seem to resent me. They say they work hard, are well-educated, earn decent incomes and yet can’t afford to buy into the Vancouver market. They say the gap between wages and home prices has been growing. What should I say to them about my assessment without making them feel bad?

Try this line: “Well, things have sure changed, man.”

Ask them if they are really working hard enough. Remind them that in the mid-1980s, interest rates were in the double digits and that, compared with today’s prices, marijuana was expensive.

Tell them that you envy their lack of job stability and benefits because of the mobility and freedom that affords them.

Be generous; offer to rent them your basement suite for $1,700 a month, providing they can do some work around the house and whatnot.

I bought a one-bedroom condo three years ago and my assessment has barely increased at all. Did I make a bad choice? My maintenance fees are killing me.

Dude, I’m not sure why you signed up for that tiny slice of sky just so you could be a slave to the man, but it was a terrible idea.

Maybe it’s time to think about co-housing, or renting the awesome laneway house I just built behind my place in Kitsilano. It’s 510 square feet – plenty of room to raise a family.

I’ll let you have it for $2,400 a month.

No laundry.

I’m a 77-year-old widow, rattling around in a modest 28-hundred-square-foot West Side house just assessed at $2.8-million. I have no trouble paying taxes, and I would like to stay in my own home. But my 35-year-old son is pressuring me to sell and move to a condo so I can help him purchase a first home. What should I do?

Hold on to that single-family west-side home until those little brats can pry it from your cold, dead hands.

Look, this thing isn’t going to last forever. You’ve done your job. You accidentally bought a home that has appreciated astronomically in value over the past 30 years. Lord that over lesser people,

even if they are your own flesh and blood.

It seems to me that this whole Vancouver property thing has turned out to be nothing more than a way to make rich people even richer. Am I wrong?

No, you are not wrong.

But if you need to just get away from it all and chill for a bit, I’ll rent you my cabin on Saltspring for $2,200 a week. It’s waterfront.

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One. 88.1 FM and 690 AM in Vancouver.

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