By Steve Hubrecht
The past year was a roller coaster ride for real estate in the Columbia Valley, and indeed the entire Kootenay region, but the latest BC Assessment notices show that this rollercoaster ended up more or less where it was a year ago, with median prices for single-family homes up ever so slightly in both Invermere and Canal Flats, and up a bit more significantly (although not wildly so) in Radium Hot Springs.
The BC Assessment notices were mailed out earlier this month. In Invermere, the price of a median single-family home is up three per cent (from $407,000 to $418,000). In Canal Flats, it’s up two per cent (from $189,000 to $194,000). And in Radium Hot Springs, the median price of a single-family home has gone up 12 per cent (from $285,000 to $319,000). In the past, BC Assessment officials have cautioned that any change in price, up or down, between zero and 10 per cent, is consider to be essentially holding steady.
“Radium is up a bit higher than Invermere, and that’s typical of what we’re seeing across the Kootenay, which is that smaller communities are seeing higher increases in home prices than the larger communities,” BC Assessment Deputy Assessor for the Kootenay Columbia Region Sharlynn Hill told the Pioneer, adding that the mild home price increase in Canal Flats was an anomaly to this wider trend.
The trend is apparent in most of the main Kootenay communities, but is most vivid in the Nelson area. The price of a median single-family home in Nelson is up seven per cent. In nearby and much smaller communities, it’s up much more: 19 per cent in Salmo, 12 per cent in Kaslo, 19 per cent in Slocan, 10 per cent in Silverton, nine per cent in New Denver, and 16 per cent in Nakusp.
Hill outlined that BC Assessment doesn’t know for sure what’s driving this trend, but suggested “it may be that the smaller communities have the housing supply that the larger centres don’t, and the homes in the smaller communities are relatively affordable.”
Although the home price increase was larger in Radium than in the Columbia Valley’s other communities, Hill pointed out that 41 per cent of Radium’s residential assessment were in the zero to five percent increase range, and that a further 21 per cent were in the five to ten per cent increase range, meaning 62 per cent of Radium residential assessment actual fall within the zero to 10 per cent (the ‘holding steady’ range). Hill added that Radium has a large percentage of strata residential properties compared with both Invermere and Canal Flats, and that more than half of assessments for Radium’s strata residential properties fell in the zero to five per cent increase range.
“Generally speaking, the Columbia Valley was similar to the rest of the Kootenay in that it had that stronger increase in smaller communities, while mostly in larger centres the increases stayed between zero and 10 per cent,” re-emphasized Hill.
She added the year has been a wild one for real estate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, outlining that when the pandemic first hit the Kootenay region in late winter and early spring, real estate sales and listings dropped off a cliff.
“It was quite dramatic. Nobody could have predicted that,” she said.
Then, just as unexpectedly and just as suddenly, sales and listing roared back in the summer with as much, if not more, verve than they fell off.
“So this very sharp decline was followed by a very sharp spike in demand. And in the summer, a combination of this increasing demand with a limited supply put upward pressure on prices for sure,” said Hill. “If you look at the numbers, it appears as though things have held steady as compared with the year before, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.”
Hill added that BC Assessment’s 2021 assessment notices are based on a home’s assessed value of July 1, 2020, and that market trends after that date are not reflected in the assessment notices.
“So compared with what you may be seeing on the streets right now in terms of housings prices and sales listing, it (the assessment) may be different,” she said. “Anecdotally speaking, we may still be climbing.”
BC Assessment data, going back three years, are available online at www.bcassessment.ca.