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Home values continue to decline in corridor

Values decrease up to 15 per cent in Whistler, according to BC Assessment

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A one-bedroom townhome in the Benchlands was $598,000 in 2010 and $513,000 in 2011, a difference of 14.2 per cent.

A one-bedroom townhouse in Creekside was $234,000 in 2010 and $198,300 in 2011, a different of just over 15 per cent.

For the second year, none of the given examples showed any kind of increase. The average decline was 6.18 per cent for residential properties, while commercial and other types of real estate declined 4.83 per cent.

Pat Kelly, the owner of Whistler Real Estate Co., said he doubts that the declines will continue into the 2013 assessment roll, based on strong activity in the second half of 2011.

"Activity is up, but prices really haven't changed (since July 1, 2011)," he said. "Prices have experienced downward pressure over the last 12 months, which is consistent with the amount of inventory for sale right now — although my guess would be, given the increase in activity, that the price will follow the volume eventually.

"We've seen the worst of it and now the market is reconfiguring into a new paradigm, and Whistler is a good value both regionally and internationally."

The number of home sales is at a high compared to the last three or four years, 18 per cent higher in 2011 compared to 2010 according to Kelly, although with the number of listings the supply is still greater than the demand. He predicts that will turn around in the next year, and said the turnaround point was probably mid-summer.

However, he said, in a town like Whistler where 103 home sales in a year is on the high side, assessing the value of homes "is more of an art than a science." In some neighbourhoods there are no home sales in a given year, and only one or two sales going back three or four years. What homes would actually sell for if they were placed on the market can be very different than the assessed value, he said.

Provincially, it's a much different story than Whistler as the overall assessment roll increased 6.42 per cent, with a total value of $1.106 trillion. New construction accounted for $14.69 billion of the total.

The highest increase in residential assessments was reported in resource industry towns. Stewart led the province at 20.78 per cent, linked to an increase in commercial values of over 50 per cent. The Northern Rockies district rolls in the Peace River region were up almost 18 per cent, followed closely by Fort St. James.

Whistler is not alone among resort communities experiencing declines. House values declined close to 10 per cent in Tofino, by 3.3 per cent in Osoyoos, by up to 3.46 per cent in Kelowna and nearly eight per cent in the newly incorporated town of Sun Peaks. Bucking the trend, Revelstoke's assessment roll increased by over 17 per cent for 2012.