Agassiz and Harrison Realtors reflect on BC Assessment Roll

Local District of Kent and Harrison numbers vary slightly

Most homeowners should have their BC Assessment by now.

“Most homes in the Fraser Valley are remaining stable in value compared to last year’s assessment roll,” stated Raj Sandhu, acting assessor, in a press release. “Most homes owned in the Fraser Valley will see changes in the -5% to +5% range.”

BC Assessment provides an example of local market trends with the example of a typical home value change from 2013 to 2014. Agassiz and Harrison line up with the trends found across the Fraser Valley. The Village of Harrison Hot Springs saw an increase of $5,000 in a “typical” home, from $284,000 in 2013 to $289,000 in 2014, a 1.7 per cent difference.

While much is made about the annual BC Assessment roll by many homeowners, media organizations and stats lovers, not all local realtors count on the numbers as an indicator of things to come.

Harrison realtor Freddy Marks calls the BC Assessment roll a “mirror” for what happened in the last 12 months in the real estate market.

“I’m a little bit optimistic that the prices will go very slowly up,” Marks predicts. “After years of seeing it go down the drain, we hit the bottom and we’re slowly going up.”

The Harrison market is unique compared to many other villages and, certainly, compared to Agassiz. Mark’s real estate company, Sutton Group – West Coast Realty, did a property title search two years ago to determine the makeup of Harrison homeowners. In their study, they found that more than 60 per cent of the properties were owned by non-resident owners. These secondary-home owners come from all over the world including Russia, the U.S., Alberta and of course the Lower Mainland.

Many homes in Harrison are vacation homes. So when the recession hit in 2008, Marks says, sales dropped and there was a lot of inventory (number of homes on the market) as a result.

“Now slowly, we see inventory has been sold out and we see an increase in demand and an increase in pricing.”

For real estate sales to take off in Harrison, Marks thinks what is really needed is new development. This past summer, he had roughly four to five people every week coming into his downtown Harrison office asking about new development for sale. He says the group of buyers who have the money to spend on vacation or retirement homes are not interested in older developments. They want the “same standard” of recreational property as their primary residence.

For the District of Kent, BC Assessment’s “typical” home value dropped approximately 3 per cent, from $336,000 in 2013 to $326,000 in 2014. But Allan Roth, realtor with Re/max Nyda Realty (Kent), says they’re “hardly measurable” figures.

“The market has been pretty stable over the last year,” says Roth.

He says it may very well be that the assessments have slipped a little bit. However, he sees some positive numbers coming out of the end of 2014.

“The fourth quarter of 2014, we’ve actually seen quite a pickup in activity,” says Roth. “Our office has noted a significant increase in sales activity.”

Roth is optimistic that will bode well for 2015. While sales activity looks strong heading into 2015, Roth can’t predict whether that will translate into higher or lower prices.

“It’s too early to say,” he remarks, but adds that either way, he would not expect “significant price movement” this year.

For Agassiz, compared to Harrison, the typical buyers are retirees looking to settle here as opposed to Harrison’s secondary / vacation home residences. Buyers in the Agassiz market are drawn to the affordability and mild weather, amongst other factors.

Visit www.bcassessment.ca for more information about the 2015 Assessment Roll.

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