B.C. property assessment increases in 2015: Summary of media coverage. Plus questions about underlying factors

BCAssessment-ca, assessment roll total value 2015The B.C. Assessment Authority released its latest assessment roll information on Friday, January 2, 2015. The main news is moderate to large increases in assessed property values and media have given considerable attention to the most expensive places and who owns them. Meanwhile, when the statements arrive in the mail, most homeowners between Vancouver, Pemberton and the Sunshine Coast will see their properties increase by as much as 15 per cent. Below we have compiled a handy list of selected media coverage in the past few days, and some excerpts we have selected to emphasize policy aspects rather than the headline-grabbers. We also ask some questions.

BC Assessment (e-valueBC — compare assessments online): http://classicevaluebc.bcassessment.ca/Default.aspx

CityHallWatch Guide to Searching BC Assessment property records:
(We published this popular guide last year, and provide this link now for your use. All the instructions are the same for 2015. We show how to use the BC Assessment system to search for records, and also summarize other types of records accessible online.)


The pundits and experts say it’s all about supply and demand. But do policy makers (and the public) really know enough about WHO is driving supply, and WHO is driving demand?

Is there really enough public discussion and media coverage of the root causes and underlying factors? Are our elected officials doing enough to understand the situation and protect the losers in this real estate game? Are they doing enough to protect locals from having to compete with the world’s wealthiest, who seek to own property here.

CityHallWatch has noticed certain factors that don’t get enough public attention. How do these things affect supply and demand, and property values at the macro level? From our observations a significant amount of property is owned by numbered companies — information about who is buying and owning property is impossible to obtain, or nearly so. Also, a lot of property is owned and/or controlled by corporations that are opaque to the public, with examples being Westbank Projects Corp., Concord Pacific, and Avalonna Homes, all of which have had major rezonings approved in recent years. How does their secrecy affect land dealings going on around us? Who else is hiding behind the screen? Also, why do local media not provide much coverage about how other jurisdictions are tightening up their controls on foreign ownership or empty homes, or how laws and regulations are being circumvented to allow wealthy foreigners to buy property here? Let’s get more discussion about all of this in the future. It is clear that some of the key players driving supply and demand for housing and property are rather murky. Also, the impacts of low interest rates enabling rising debt levels certainly factor into housing prices — and when will this change?

The past decade’s dramatic increase of property values in Vancouver and nearby municipalities is one of the defining issues of our times. Vancouver housing ranks among the most expensive (least affordable) in the world, but the increases in land and housing prices create winners and losers. If you own property and are “rising with the tide,” you are a winner (at least in asset value). If not, you may be a loser as the cost of housing rises further out of reach — renters, low income, and homeless people — as you see any hope of affordable housing slip further out of reach. The cost of housing affects many aspects of our personal and family finances and lives. Perhaps the secrecy in our property market comes at a cost to society.

Below is our compilation of stories and key facts on B.C assessments for 2015.

  • Most B.C. homeowners can expect a boost in property values (Staff reporter, The Province, 2-Jan-2015).
  • Typical detached house values spike to $1.8-million in Vancouver (Brent Jang, The Globe and Mail, 2-Jan-2015). Excerpt: Assessed values for single-family detached homes surged last year in Vancouver, where most of British Columbia’s 100 most expensive properties are located. A typical detached home on Vancouver’s west side on a 15.24-metre-wide lot had an assessment of $1,812,000 on July 1 last year, up 12.5 per cent from the previous evaluation on July 1, 2013. A representative detached property on the west side on a 10-metre-wide lot saw its year-over-year valuation climb 7.5 per cent to $1,575,000, according to new data released Friday by BC Assessment. On the city’s east side, a typical detached home had an assessed value of $993,000 last July, up 11.3 per cent over a 12-month period, said BC Assessment, the provincial Crown corporation that estimates values on behalf of B.C. municipalities, which in turn use the data to determine tax rolls. The average price in the latest assessment roll for single-family detached properties increased 11 per cent year-over-year in the City of Vancouver, said Dharmesh Sisodraker, deputy assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky region…. Of the top 100 most expensive B.C. residential assessments, 95 are in either the City of Vancouver or University Endowment Lands or the district municipality of West Vancouver…. Homeowners will be receiving their assessment notices next week, reflecting market values from last July….A representative detached house on West Vancouver’s waterfront increased 3.8 per cent in value to $3,542,000….By contrast, the Capital Region’s housing prices have been flat, with most properties seeing their assessments change in a range from slipping 2 per cent to rising 3 per cent.
  • B.C. assessments show strong appreciation in Vancouver single-family home values. Okanagan, Vancouver Island and northern resource communities also see increases (Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 3-Jan-2015). Excerpt: … What’s new this year is that condo values are also rising in the region, after a few flat years that saw condo construction outpace homebuyer demand. “Condominiums, that’s apartments and townhouses, up until 2014 had been relatively flat over three years,” said Cameron Muir, chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association. Over 2014, however, Muir said condo sale prices have risen in step with inflation. Condo prices in Vancouver and its nearer suburbs were up about two per cent as of July, when B.C. Assessment sets its values for the next year’s assessment roll.
  • Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s Vancouver home the most expensive in B.C. (Matt Kieltyka, Metro News Vancouver, 4-Jan-2014). Excerpts: According to B.C. Assessment’s 2015 roll, released Friday, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s Kitsilano home is the most valued residential property in British Columbia. The mansion on Point Grey Road was assessed at $57,595,000. Sixteen of the Top 25 valued properties in the province are located within City of Vancouver limits, four others are in the District of West Vancouver and three are on UBC’s University Endowment Lands. The total value of real estate throughout the province in 2015 is assessed at more than $1.2 trillion, up 5.84 per cent from 2014. Owners of more than 323,000 properties in the Vancouver Sea to Sky region and 193,000 properties in the Fraser Valley will be receiving their assessment notices shortly. Any owners who feel their assessment doesn’t reflect the market value of their property, as of July 1, 2014, or see incorrect information are asked to contact BC Assessment this month. The assessments can also be appealed and reviewed by a review panel.
  • Vancouver-Sea to Sky assessed home values increase 8 per cent. B.C. Assessment says some individual homes saw increases as high as 15 per cent (CBC News, 2-Jan-2015)
  • Property values increase across the city (Wawmeesh G. Hamilton, Vancouver Courier, 2-Jan-2015). Excerpt: Assessments are the estimate of a property’s market value as of July 1, 2014 and physical condition as of Oct. 31, 2014. Real estate sales determine property’s values, which are reported annually by B.C. Assessment. Local governments use property assessments to calculate property tax rates based on the assessment roll for their jurisdictions. Vancouver residents paid an average of $4,900 in property tax in 2014. According to the B.C. Assessment Authority, the market value on an assessment notice often differs from value shown on a mortgage or a real estate appraisal. This is because B.C. Assessment’s appraisal reflects the value as of July 1 of the previous year, while private appraisals can be done at any time.
  • B.C.’s Top 10 most valuable residential property assessments (with photos) (Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 2-Jan-2015). Excerpt: Home of Lululemon Athletica founder Chip Wilson at 3085 Point Grey Road in Vancouver, BC Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. The property is assessed as the most valuable property in BC, at $57.6 million.


  • Bank of Canada said Canada’s housing market could be overvalued by as much as 30%. The Canadian housing debate: why a correction may never come (The Globe and Mail, 11-Dec-2014) Interview with Peter Norman, Chief Economist of Altus Group.
  • Housing market ‘modestly’ overvalued, CMHC says (Richard Blackwell, The Globe and Mail, 24-Nov-24). Excerpt: House prices in parts of Canada may appear to be increasingly out of reach for many Canadians, but lofty prices aren’t about to sink any time soon… In fact, Canada’s homes are only “modestly” overvalued on average, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says in an analysis, and there is no evidence that any dramatic reversal is in the cards. …Vancouver: Despite the anecdotes involving incredibly overpriced homes in Vancouver, the CMHC study sees no major issues there. House prices are “supported by local growth in personal disposable income and long-term population growth,” the report said. Mr. Tal of CIBC said average prices may be out of reach, but they are skewed by very expensive properties. “There are many pockets in Vancouver where house prices are not as crazy as perceived,” he said.
  • Vancouver home property values jump 10% in time for 2015 (Tyler Orton, Business in Vancouver, 2-Jan-2015). Excerpts: Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s home the most valuable in Vancouver at $57.6 million. Three neighbours living along Belmont Avenue in Point Grey own the next most expensive homes in the city. Those properties were valued at $50.1 million, $31.4 million and $28.1 million….“Where we saw single-family homes increase, strata residential property owners will see basically a stable market place for a third year in a row,” B.C. deputy assessor Dharmesh Sisodraker told Business In Vancouver…. The average two-bedroom downtown apartment went up in value just 1.8%, from $543,000 in 2014 to $553,000 in 2015. A two-bedroom apartment in the city’s west side went up in value 7.2% from $573,000 to $616,000. In the east side, the same type of property went up just 4.5% from $364,000 to $381,000.


Original media advisory by B.C. Assessment
Media Advisory – BC Assessment to announce the 2015 Property Assessment Roll
Date: Morning of Friday, January 2, 2015

Location: Province-wide for British Columbia including all municipalities

VICTORIA, Dec. 29, 2014 /CNW/ –

Media Information and Interviews:

BC Assessment will issue approximately 50 local area news releases on Friday, January 2, 2015 with highlights of property assessment changes in local communities. All news releases, as well as statistics and general information about the 2015 Assessment Roll, will be posted on http://www.bcassessment.ca on January 2. Of note, BC Assessment’s website will list the Top Valued Properties for all of British Columbia as well as by regional breakdown. For interviews, starting January 2, contact the designated media contact on the local news release.


  • Nearly two million property owners will receive their 2015 property assessment notice by mail in early January.
  • Starting in January, the public can use the free, newly-enhanced e-valueBC search tool on BC Assessment’s website to compare their 2015 property assessment to others.
  • The mandate of BC Assessment, a provincial Crown corporation, is to establish and maintain uniform real property assessments throughout British Columbia in accordance with the Assessment Act.
  • The Act requires that BC Assessment produce annual rolls with assessments at market value (estimated valuation date as of July 1, 2014 for market value properties).

SOURCE BC Assessment

For further information: Website: http://www.bcassessment.ca

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