Real estate

The average single-family home in Penticton gained 16 per cent in value last year, according to fresh data from BC Assessment.

That means the average house was worth $502,000 as of July 1, 2017, up from $431,000 a year earlier.

Homes in strata complexes added 15 per cent in value, rising from $246,000 to $284,000 on average.

Deputy assessor Tracy Wall explained the figures are derived from activity in what has been a “busy” real estate market of late.

“It didn’t come as a surprise,” she added. “We look at and monitor the market and it was just one of those years.”

Most commercial and industrial properties in the Penticton area recorded more modest gains of eight and nine per cent, respectively.

City of Penticton finance manager Jim Bauer cautioned property owners not to equate their assessment increases with a tax hike of equal size.

Council has already approved a 3.4 per cent bump in the overall tax requisition, and the rates used to get it will be set based on the new assessment data, he explained.

“I guess the way I would look at it is, if your property value is going up consistent with the overall market change (of 16 per cent), then you would expect to see a (tax) change consistent with the 3.4 per cent council approved,” explained Bauer.

The B.C. Real Estate Association’s head economist attributed the long, multi-year stretch of rising property values to buoyancy in the provincial economy as a whole.

“What we’re seeing is kind of the cumulative effect of strong economic growth,” said Cameron Muir, who noted 2017 was the fourth consecutive year that B.C.’s gross domestic product increased by more than three per cent.

“People who got jobs three years ago maybe have saved money and are now in a position to buy a home,” he continued, and they’re competing with migrants – both economic and retirees – who are flocking to B.C. and driving up prices.

Muir is forecasting GDP growth of 3.8 per cent in 2018, but noted the provincial economy and real estate markets are facing some headwinds.

Rising home prices have “eroded affordability,” and the “extremely low” supply of housing may be keeping some people on the sidelines, he explained, while expected interest rate hikes and tighter lending rules will have the same effect.

However, “If we look in the Okanagan… there’s been a significant surge in new construction activity,” Muir added, which should help moderate prices.

Elsewhere in the South Okanagan, BC Assessment determined the average single-family home in Osoyoos appreciated 17 per cent last year, Summerland saw its values climb 16 per cent, Oliver gained 14 per cent, Keremeos rose seven per cent and Princeton notched up 10 per cent.

Kelowna’s average single-family home price was up 17 per cent, while Vernon noticed an 11 per cent gain.

As a whole, the total assessment roll in the Okanagan now stands at $119 billion, up from $98 billion last year. New construction, rezonings and subdivisions account for $2.5 billion of the increase.

Just two homes in the South Okanagan made the list of the 100 most expensive in the region.

In at No. 53 was 903 Dent St. in Trout Creek, valued at $5.2 million, and in the No. 100 spot was 5608 Ash Ave., also in Trout Creek, worth $4.5 million.

The most expensive residential property in the region is 4358 Hobson Rd. in Kelowna, assessed at $10 million.

Assessment notices are in the mail this week. To check out your property and compare it to others nearby, visit www.bcassessment.ca.

The deadline to file an appeal is Jan. 31.

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