Property assessments in Whistler are up for the first time in four years and, as inventory gets increasingly thinner, prices could be on the rise in the years to come.
According to BC Assessment, which mailed out the property assessments this week, residential property increased 6.2 per cent over last year, while business/other saw a 2.74-per-cent increase.
It translates to a 5.14-per-cent increase in assessed values for single-family homes and a nine-per-cent increase for condo/strata units.
"I think it's indicative of a bit of a return of confidence and people are willing to purchase what are, after all, fairly large ticket items," said Grant McDonald, deputy assessor for Vancouver-Sea to Sky with BC Assessment.
The change comes after three consecutive years of assessed values declining, followed by last year, which was stable.
"In the context of the last three to four years, these are encouraging numbers for anybody that owns property up there," added McDonald.
Squamish and Pemberton saw smaller increases in assessed values — 3.28 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.
The numbers jive more or less with Pat Kelly's numbers at Whistler Real Estate, who said the last year has seen a stronger market compared to recent years.
There has been a marked increased in sales activity, Kelly added.
"Any time you see an increase in activity, ultimately you're going to start to see some price increases," he said.
"It's an attractive place to invest money right now and there's lots of demand. There isn't a tremendous amount of supply. We are at a historical low for the number of properties being made available for sale, so that's going to put pressure on prices to go up."
In the Vancouver Sea to Sky Region as a whole, BC Assessment is reporting changes in assessed value up to 15 per cent.
The assessment is based on the market value as of July 1, 2014, taking into account sales in the area from the past year.
A single-family home in White Gold, for example, assessed at $988,000 in the 2014 assessment roll, is now assessed at $1, 061,000 for the 2015 roll.
Overall, Whistler's assessed roll increased from $9.728 billion to $10.296 billion.
Of that, non-market change accounted for $79.5 million. That includes new subdivisions, rezoning and new construction.
Taking a broader picture view province-wide, the Lower Mainland was not setting the pace for assessed values this year. Rather, the biggest increases were seen in the northwest — Kitimat 37.79 per cent, Terrace 28.28 per cent and Port Edward 21.57 per cent.
"We're seeing some very strong growth in areas like the northwest largely predicated around the possibility, or the probability, of LNG, and oil and gas obviously driving some of that, too," said McDonald. "But those are probably some of the largest increases in the province this year.
"In terms of the Lower Mainland setting the pace, that's not necessarily the case this time around."
If a property owner is concerned about their assessment, they should contact BC Assessment. They can submit a Notice of Complaint (appeal) by Feb. 2 for an independent review for a Property Assessment Review Panel.
That panel typically meets between Feb. 1 and March 15 to hear formal complaints.