Penticton homeowners are being warned to expect a dip in their property values as assessment notices begin to arrive in the mail, but the mayor says the drop is actually a blessing in disguise.
New data from BC Assessment released Thursday shows average single-family home prices in Penticton dropped 3% last year. That was buffered somewhat by a 2% rise in condo assessments.
Tracy Wall, the Okanagan area deputy assessor for BC Assessment, said home values are based on “what your property could have sold for” as of July 1.
“What we look at is actual sales of similar properties and compare it to them, and what we found in Penticton, there is a slight decrease, typically for many of the residential properties,” Wall said.
Penticton took the hardest hit in the South Okanagan, with residential property values in Summerland, Keremeos and Oliver all enjoying an average a 2% increase. Osoyoos homes jumped by 4%.
That means the average home in Penticton now has an assessed value of $469,000, down from $481,000 a year ago.
South Okanagan Real Estate Board president Dori Lionello believes lower assessments aren’t an accurate reflection of what a house will sell for on the market today.
“We had a really strong end to the year,” she said. “We’re still seeing strong activity with the retirement community, we’re still seeing people coming here to buy a lot of secondary property, and those sales are in the higher-end price point. People are still moving their equity here.”
As for 2020, Lionello believes the market will continue to bounce back, with high activity in the summer thanks to the return of Subaru Ironman Canada.
Mayor John Vassilaki suggested a dip in house prices is “the best thing that could happen” for Penticton.
“Housing will be a lot more affordable,” he said. “People can’t be asking for the sky when they’re putting their homes up for sale. It’s flattened out.”
But lower prices don’t necessarily mean lower taxes, he added, explaining a benchmark for property taxes has yet to be set.
“We know how much the city needs in order to operate for 2020, and that’s how we set the mill rate for taxes to be paid by each homeowner,” said Vassilaki. “We don’t set taxes until we know what is needed for the community.”
Meanwhile, the most expensive property in the South Okanagan — and the only one to crack the top 100 for the Okanagan — is a seven-bedroom, five-bathroom home on Dent Street in Trout Creek. It’s assessed at $5.3 million, up from $5.2 million a year earlier, making it just the 72nd-priciest home in the region.
“What I found is any of our communities in the Okanagan where they have an abundance of larger waterfront properties, that’s where a lot of these high-value developments or houses are being built,” said Wall, “and they command the highest price.”
Average 2019 house assessments and year-over-year change:
• Penticton: $469,000 (-3%)
• Summerland: $526,000 (+2%)
• Keremeos: $275,000 (+2%)
• Oliver: $389,000 (+2%)
• Osoyoos: $430,000 (+4%)
• Princeton: $215,000 (+9%)
• Kelowna: $629,000 (-2%)
• West Kelowna: $607,000 (-1%)
• Vernon: $463,000 (+4%)
— Source: BC Assessment