The assessed value of Shuswap residential properties is on the rise, owed in part to strong sales activity and, in some cases, limited inventory.
Most British Columbians will have received their annual property assessments last week from BC Assessment. In general, property values across the province are up by an average of 11 per cent, with the Lower Mainland seeing some of the highest increases, in some cases has high as 28 per cent.
In the Okanagan/Shuswap, assessed values for residential properties followed the provincial trend, with the majority having increased between two and 10 per cent.
“The majority of residential homeowners within the region can expect a modest increase in value, compared to last year’s assessment,” states deputy assessor Tracy Wall with BC Assessment. “The Central Okanagan’s urban areas will see the greatest increases in values along with Penticton, Salmon Arm, Spallumcheen and Lumby.”
According to a summary comparing single residential property values in Salmon Arm, a home assessed at $323,300 in July 2014 increased in value by 10.23 per cent in July 2015, and is now assessed at $356,400.
Assessed values for commercial and light industrial properties in the Okanagan were assessed at an average of minus five or plus 10 per cent, similar to 2014.
This increased residential values in the Okanagan/Shuswap reflect sales in 2015, which the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board (OMREB) calls one of its busiest years since 2007. Statistics for the Shuswap show sales activity for single-family residential had declined by December, but year-to-date sales increased over the previous year by 9.5 per cent. Sales activity for all property types was up 3.3 per cent. Overall inventory, however, was down by 11.3 per cent (945 units from 1,099) over the year prior.
OMREB director and Shuswap Realtor Doug Hubscher says homes in the Shuswap have been selling over assessed value and, while the market is strong, it’s not aggressive, as buyers aren’t as pressed to purchase as they might be elsewhere.
“Buyers are starting to get frustrated, they’re starting to have trouble finding what they’re looking for and it’s taking a little bit of patience…,” said Hubscher. “But the consensus is they would rather wait than pay more. It’s kind of a sensitive market.”
A lot of that pressure has been on homes in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, where there’s strong demand and limited inventory.
“First-time home buyers are still a big part of our purchasing pool and they’re going to be coming in at more entry levels. So there’s kind of a compacting thing there,” Hubscher explained. “The reason for this is that as houses in the lower price ranges sell, if they were rented out, it displaces a renter and that renter may become a buyer, so that puts more pressure on that lower price… because there’s limited places to rent, it’s putting more pressure on people preferring to buy and their resources are limited so they’re looking in the lower price ranges.”
Hubscher does see Salmon Arm transitioning from a buyer’s market to seller’s market though, noting last year was one of his best.
Sicamous was one of two communities in the Okanagan region to buck the rising assessment trend. BC Assessment reports the average value of a singe-family residential property in Sicamous dropped by 2.3 per cent.
Hubscher attributed this in part to Alberta’s declining economy.
“The only thing I could offer with Sicamous is it’s been predominantly people from Calgary and Alberta that have been buying in that area. Because of the environment in Alberta with the price of oil and all that, it’s impacted how things have evolved in Sicamous and that part of the area,” said Hubscher.
In 2014, BC Assessment came under fire from Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors for basing assessments on market value.
“People are coming here and are willing to pay $1 million for an old cabin that was built years ago,” commented Area E director Rhona Martin. “That jacks the price up for other residents. The taxes go out of the roof and people are losing their homes because they can’t afford the taxes.”
For property owners concerned about the recent assessments there is an appeal process in which they can file a Notice of Complaint with BC Assessment no later than Feb. 1. These appeals will be subject to an independent review by a Property Assessment Review Panel, appointed by the Ministry of Community, Sport and Family Development. For more information on the appeals process, call 1-866-825-8322, or visit https://bcassessment.ca/Services-products/appeals/Appealing-your-Assessment.