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The 2012 BC Property Assessment values grabbed the front page of The Vancouver Sun Wednesday (January 4). The headline (“West Van home values soar nearly one-third”) was slightly misleading, implying that West Vancouver homes outpaced other regions when in fact, comparable Vancouver West Side homes on a 50’ lot (more akin to suburban sized lots) increased by over 38%.

Needless to say, I was personally relieved to find my West Side condo’s assessed value had decreased by $60,000, mainly in the land value, despite units in my development selling for record-high prices throughout 2011.

These apparent discrepancies highlight some valuable home pricing tips:

1. Assessed values are lagging indicators – they represent a price based on a ‘snapshot’ value as of July 1, 2011. By the time the notices are mailed, the market may have changed dramatically.

2. Assessed values depreciate the buildings based on a formula, and do not capture all property improvements.

3. Some neighbourhoods, developments, streets, or even individual homes are more highly valued based on reputation, appearance, and other factors that may not be tangible.

Realtors use a combination of factors to value a home, most importantly, a much more granular comparison of market based or “sold” values. List prices are also used cautiously as a gauge of the ‘competition’ that a unique property may be facing (although List prices should never be used as an estimate of a home’s value).

How may BC Assessment’s Assessed Value be applied in relation to a market valuation when listing your home? Assessed values should be reviewed within the context of a relative comparison. For example, I recall Point Grey homes selling for roughly 25% above assessed values when working for a client in 2011. If I came across a similar Point Grey home selling for, say, 40% above its assessed value, I would investigate the reason, or conclude that the list price was inflated.

If you’d like a market assessment of your home, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, let’s hope you are enjoying a lower assessed value to minimize your 2012 tax bill!

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