The average value of detached homes has broken through $1 million in more than 50 additional Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods, 2016 assessment figures show.
“It’s a little, depressed area,” Realtor Jason Weinman said of the Multiple Listing Service-defined zone of Lynnmour on the North Shore. There’s not much to this zone between the end of the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and Capilano University, long known as one of the most affordable in North Vancouver, he says. “But with prices going the way they are in the city, it doesn’t shock me,” Weinman said upon hearing the average assessment for a detached home in Lynnmour crossed from $844,531 in 2015 into what used to be defined as luxury territory at $1.02 million.
Property information firm Landcor Data Corp. crunched numbers released by B.C. Assessment Monday and found 53 Multiple Listing Service-defined neighbourhoods are newcomers to the $1 million-plus list, including parts of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver. It’s a significant jump from last year when the list included 124 neighbourhoods.
“Everything up here has been selling for over $1 million in the last 12 months,” says realtor Monet Taylor, who specializes in the Port Moody neighbourhood of Heritage Woods, which crossed the $1 million line with average assessments for homes hitting $1.09 million. “At the beginning of last year, a smaller, 3,000-square-foot home that I sold (in Heritage Woods) for $965,000, would now be $1.1 million,” says Taylor. “Young families are moving from North Vancouver and Burnaby. They are looking to upgrade from older, smaller homes or from a townhome.” She suggests homes in nearby Heritage Mountain might still be under $1 million, but the average assessment for 2016 in that area clocked in at $1.1 million, too.
The $1 million mark used to be reserved for describing luxury properties. In more recent years, with more $1 million single-family homes making old definitions meaningless here, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, which targets the most expensive properties, added to its reports the term “top tier” to distinguish its listings from mere “luxury” ones.
Some economists still hold fast to the idea that rising prices are confined to a few, west side neighbourhoods, but “I think (this idea) is crazy,” says Andrey Pavlov, professor of real estate finance at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. “There’s no reason why areas such as Coquitlam and Port Moody, where there is lots of land and supply of homes, would be rising” to be assessed at over $1 million if there wasn’t this trickle-down effect with buyers either seeking alternative destinations when they are priced out of others areas or taking earnings made from sales in these more expensive areas to spend in others.
At Vancouver City Hall, Mayor Gregor Robertson responded Tuesday to this week’s B.C. Assessment numbers by calling for “bold action from the provincial and federal governments to make housing more affordable.” The “latest numbers from B.C. Assessment once again demonstrate the stark and alarming ways that our region’s housing market is divorced from local incomes,” said Robertson in a statement. “A speculation tax would help slow the practice of flipping houses, which treats housing as a commodity and intensifies the price escalation. A luxury housing tax would ensure that the very wealthiest buyers or investors pay an added price. Both of these taxes would raise new funds to make housing more affordable for those low and modest incomes.”
For a sense of where such action might take aim, there is, on a very small scale, signs of a new almost-$1 million club to join. Recently, a home at 3302 West 5th Ave. was sold for $802,000 over the asking price 0f $2.49 million and one at 1322 Maple St. for $940,000 over the asking price of $2.93 million.
The Vancouver Sun