Victoria property assessments rise, as level of inventory falls to record lows

Property sales numbers dipped toward end of 2017, but experts say values will rise

As the province gets to ready to mail out property assessment notices for 2018, the market in Victoria has slowed down slightly heading into the new year.

In December, the total number of properties sold in Victoria was down 1.9 per cent, as compared to Dec. 2016. Looking at the entirety of 2017, 8,944 properties were sold, translating to 15.8 per cent fewer properties than the year previous – 2016 broke a record with 10,622 properties sold.

“Early in 2017 we discussed how the Victoria area housing market would be different than the record breaking year we had in 2016 and that over the course of the year we’d probably see a gradual return to a more balanced market,” said Ara Balabanian, president of the Victoria Real Estate board.

Evidence of that change came early in the year, he added, as multiple offers and rapid price increases began to level out.

With a low inventory of properties for sale, buyers continued to experience competitive situations in high demand areas, Balabanian pointed out, and multiple offers were still common as buyers negotiated in a tight market.

“What we couldn’t anticipate were outside factors such as changes to mortgage qualifying rules that may have pushed people into the market early,” he said.

MLS had just 1,384 active listings at the end of Dec. 2017, a decrease of 21.5 per cent compared to November and 7.3 per cent fewer than the 1,493 active listings for sale at the end of Dec. 2016.

This marked a record low level of inventory for Victoria in the month of December since 1996.

While inventory was low, Balabanian said the continued interest in Victoria real estate meant that well-priced homes were quick to sell in 2017. “Moving forward, we expect to see more inventory come into the market, which will continue to move us toward a more balanced state,” he said.

RELATED: Higher Peninsula home values are no surprise

According to a report this week from BC Assessment, the top three valued properties in the region were on James Island and in Oak Bay. Victoria, meanwhile, didn’t even crack the top 25, with the highest valued property coming in at no. 66, located in James Bay.

“The majority of residential home owners within [Greater Victoria] can expect an increase in their assessment in the 10 per cent to 25 per cent range as compared to last year’s assessment,” assessor Tina Ireland said, noting the market has remained strong across the Island.

In Victoria, the average assessment for a single-family residential property was $679,000 in 2017 (based on a valuation date of July 1, 2016). In 2018, that number jumped 15 per cent to $779,000 (based on a July 1, 2017 valuation date).

In Esquimalt, the average assessment for the same property type was $556,000 in 2017, increasing 18 per cent to $655,000 for 2018.

Overall, Vancouver Island’s total assessments increased from $192.7 billion in 2017 to $223.1 billion this year. A total of almost $3.2 billion of the region’s updated assessments is from new construction, subdivisions and the rezoning of properties.

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