experts: real estate column Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bursting Into 2006!

On property assessments, the year that was, and a look ahead at 2006.

By Alan  Skinner

We're here and we survived the annual festivities – hopefully? One thing that seems to be a survivor (and then some) is our North Shore real estate ... and why shouldn't it be? Remember – high demand – relatively short supply!

With the arrival this past week of our Property Assessment notices comes the obligatory "moment to reflect" – well, more likely – be a little stunned and then reflect! I've had a number of e-mails and calls from folk – many expressing their surprise, some a level of indignation and leading to the inevitable "what is truly the value of my home?" Almost as inevitable is "should I appeal the assessment?" All this is, in reality, just another way of saying "I wish I could pay less property tax". As a nation of basically fair-minded people, I think we may agree that, if A owns a $200k 1/2 bd condo and B owns a $400k 2/3 bd townhouse and C owns an $800k detached home, that C should bear twice the tax (funding) burden of B and that B pay twice as much as A. Further relief is provided by way of the Homeowner Grant (max $470) and an additional (max $275) for seniors or those with disabilities. The current threshold for receiving the full grant is an assessed value of $685,000 or less. (I would be surprised if the authorities did not increase this to a point in the $700,000’s). Now, if we accept this as fair (I am not going to get into a discussion on budgets, efficiency of municipalities, school boards etc!), we would conclude that all an "assessment challenge" is, is not believing that we are being correctly ranked in the "market value" continuum (NOT, heaven forbid, that we wish to pay less tax than someone whose property has an equal market value!) Remember, potential challengers, that a $25,000 reduction in your assessed value, if that in fact were granted, would result in about $145 less tax per year - about $12 per month. Is this a good use of your time and effort and don't forget, many buyers (rightly or wrongly) regard the assessed value as a relative indication of the current market value. What if this action cost you $10,000 on your eventual sale? I know this is a bit facetious, but that would wipe out 69 years of saving $145 per year. Not solid math but I trust the point is there. Visit – I find it fascinating, but, don't forget, I'm easily amused!

Now back to the real world and not just an estimation or approximation thereof. Here (roll of drums) is North Shore 2005!!! - full and final figures. Number of N/Van detached sales exceeds the same period last year by a mere 1%. Average prices +11% and inventory 14% lower than last year. On the attached (t/hse) front, sales numbers up 26% while apartment sales show increased growth of 6%. Average prices up 13% (t/hse) and 17% (apt). Inventories at -13% (t/hse) and -47% (apt). Demand (buyers) continued strong to the last with inventory still well below ’04 in all segments.

W/Van detached experienced a drop in number of sales (-4%); average price ends the year up +12% and inventory stands at 20% lower than 2004. The condo picture for 2005 was mixed – attached (t/hses) down 15% in number of sales; average prices up 38%. Active listings now 28 compared with last year’s at 40 units. Apartments reflected 224 sold vs. 184 in '04 (+21%); with average prices up 8% and active listings now at 90 vs. 43 (2004) reflecting the new building activity. North Shore scores gold yet again!

You'll notice, I've not launched into any real "whither 2006?", suffice it to say that I believe values in Dec 2006 will be higher than those at present. I promise more in the next and upcoming issues. For those getting the e-mail version of this I have attached an excellent article on mortgage rates. Other folk please feel free to e-mail me and I'll send it to you. It only remains for me to say a Happy and Successful New Year to all and may we strive to make 2006 an improved one for our families and those around us.

Yours, Alan.

Remember that is the place to visit for North Shore R/E information. This work in progress strives to be the “go to” site for North Shore Real Estate analysis. A jumping off point for FULL market listing information, it offers a “no obligation” estimate of value for your personal Real Estate. Please use it and continue your valuable feedback.

To join the group subscribing to the e-mail version of this “update” - send a request now to and you’ll be assured receipt; phone me at (604) 988-7368 or visit

Questions regarding the market, decisions, contemplations, opinions of my musings, are welcomed via e-mail (or phone) – hey, pop-in and say “Hi” to me at an open house – I’d love to see you.

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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Keeping Realtors Honest
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How well do we stack up?
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Resistance to change and compliance delay
Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Of urban planning and municipal wisdom
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yes, it's official - demand is rising
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All articles by Alan  Skinner

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