Oak Bay values stay steady in declining market

Oak Bay and West Shore see marginal gains in residential values

Homeowners living in Oak Bay are among the few in Greater Victoria likely to see little or modest gains in their assessed property values this week.

While the area’s 18 jurisdictions experienced a two to six per cent decrease in assessed values from B.C. Assessment, only Oak Bay and Langford saw average increases in residential property values, at 0.78 per cent and 0.47 per cent, respectively.

“The numbers are very specific to local markets. Oak Bay is a very strong market and it still continues to see strong investor demand. People are still paying fairly premium dollars to get into Oak Bay,” said area assessor Reuben Danakody. “And Langford is a growing area; they’re very aggressively growing new developments out there. The affordable, single-family market is growing (in Langford).”

Waterfront acreage on Humber Road worth $12.1 million topped the list of the highest valued property in the entire Capital Region, let alone the municipality, while a residence in south Oak Bay assessed at $350,000 was the lowest valued residential property.

“That tends to indicate that the land value is driving the total value,” Danakody said of the lowest assessed property. “It’s very likely that the predominant component is the land value, followed by the improvement value.”

As for the regional decline in property values, Danakody calls the slight shift “comforting.”

“I would probably characterize this as a stable market, actually,” he said. “We’re not seeing the year-over-year increases, those substantial increase in values that we used to see before. It’s not bad news, it’s comforting news, that the values are still very stable. We don’t want to see what was occurring the past few years (in parts of the U.S.)”

Marc Owen-Flood, realtor with Newport Realty on Fairfield Road, has experienced a recent slowing of sales in properties worth more than $3 million in Oak Bay, as well as a drop in condo markets. This current regional shift in assessment values has begun to reflect a more accurate picture of the market, he said, yet, in general, homes in Oak Bay consistently sell for slightly more than the assessed value.

“Oak Bay is sort of like a blue-chip stock,” he added. “It’s good stuff. You’ve got great community, rec centres, parks, good schools. The university helps, too.”

Last year Owen-Flood was involved in two sales of properties in the South Oak Bay/Estevan Village area that sold within one per cent of the prices at which they had both sold a few years prior.

The largest average declines in the Capital Region were on the Peninsula, with Sidney reporting a 5.6 per cent drop and North Saanich seeing a 3.65 per cent decline. Victoria and Saanich saw average decreases between two and three per cent.

Danakody says the assessment trends indicate, economically speaking, the real estate market has corrected itself “quite well.”

“We’re not seeing substantial declines in assessed values, which would be very concerning to many people,” he said. “Certainly we’ve seen significant impacts in other (B.C.) markets. Greater Vancouver’s seeing more of a decline than Greater Victoria, for example. The Vancouver market was very aggressive, there was a lot of aggressive investment speculation and the market became overheated. We tend not to get that aggressive here.”

Cassie Kangas, realtor with DFH Real Estate, puts less stock into the assessments than her counterpart at Newport. The numbers are a useful tool for taxation purposes only, Kangas said.

“Due to the arbitrary nature of the assessment process, the number given to people does not necessarily reflect the actual market value of their home at the time the assessments come out,” she said. “If people are thinking about selling, it is a good idea to have a professional such as a realtor come out to view their home and give them an accurate price based on comparable sales in their neighbourhood.”

To compare assessments online, or for more information, visit bcassessment.ca.

-with files from Kyle Slavin