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Realtors question assessed property values jumping in Pemberton

Whistler and Squamish values remain on par with 2009



B.C. Assessment may be pegging assessed values in Pemberton at 10 to 20 per cent above last year, but realtors on the ground disagree.

The assessments are based on the estimate of a property's market value as of July 1, 2009.

"That was when we had the lowest levels of activity and when the market was adjusting to the financial retraction that occurred in late 2008," said Pat Kelly, owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company. "Pemberton shouldn't show it and Whistler shouldn't show appreciation.

"If anything, it's situational. It is not systemic."

Yet, according to B.C. Assessment, which sent out assessment notices to property owners across the province this week, Pemberton will see assessments "significantly higher" than the 2009 assessments. The increases will be in the range of 10 to 20 per cent.

Whistler and Squamish however will be on par with last year's assessments for the most part, with possible changes in the realm of 10 per cent above or below 2009.

"The roll in Whistler is certainly very stable, as well as Squamish. The distinction being Pemberton this year where the market information is telling us that there actually has been some significant changes in residential property values, in the neighbourhood of 10 to 20 per cent," said Jason Grant, Area Assessor - Vancouver Sea to Sky Region with B.C. Assessment.

"For most of the communities that our office, the Vancouver/Sea to Sky assessment region serves... Pemberton does stand out as being a more significant change than the rest of the communities."

Craig Mackenzie, realtor for Sea to Sky Premier Properties, agreed that the assessments are not consistent with the on the ground realities.

He said that one or two big sales could skew the numbers. For example, the most expensive single family home to sell in Pemberton in 2008 was $835,000, compared to the $1.95 million in 2009. That could change the averages, said Mackenzie.

"If one or two high priced properties (sell) that can really make a difference," said Mackenzie.

The other issue at play is the overall lack of sales in the area, which also affects the numbers.

For example, based on numbers from the Whistler Listing System, there were 154 sales in Pemberton in 2008 for a total value of $158 million. That compares to 83 sales for a total of $33 million in 2009.

That trend toward fewer sales was also evident in Whistler where there were 530 sales in 2008 for a total of $420 million. That compares to 483 sales for a total of $310 million in 2009.

Despite the bleakness of the real estate market in early 2009, there now seems to be a rebound of sorts.

While many people are still in bargain-hunting mode, said Mackenzie, there seems to be more activity.

"The market is currently demonstrating a lot of healthiness," agreed Kelly.

"Values have stabilized and are actually starting to head up again."

If property owners do not agree with their assessed value, they can contact the B.C. Assessment office as soon as possible in January.

Assessments and sales by address are available online at Click on the e-valueBC link.

Grant said to bear in mind that the assessed value is reflective of what the property would sell for on July 1, 2009.

If, after speaking with staff at B.C. Assessment, a property owner is still concerned, they can submit an appeal by Feb. 1 for an independent review.