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West Van, North Van home assessments up 5 to 7% in unusual real estate year

Condos in North and West Vancouver also saw some of the biggest increases over 2019
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A real estate market that slowed to a crawl in North Van and West Van with the first wave of coronavirus in March and April picked up steam in June,
Even a global pandemic can’t stop North Shore property assessments from rising.

Assessment notices out this week show typical home values in North and West Vancouver were up between five and seven per cent in July above the same values a year previous – despite being in the middle of a coronavirus wave.

That’s a turnaround from last January, when ahead of the global outbreak, home values dropped for the second year in a row.

Leading the rise in values were single-family homes in the City and District of North Vancouver, where a “typical” home in-creased by seven per cent over last year. A typical home in the District of North Vancouver that was worth $1.479 million in 2019 was valued in July at $1.578 million. In the City of North Vancouver, a home valued at $1.351 million in 2019 was assessed at $1.452 million in July.

Typical single family homes in West Vancouver – already in the stratosphere – increased by an average of five per cent, ac-cording to BC Assessment, from $2.356 million last July to $2.472 million this year.

The increases are similar to those in other Lower Mainland communities. Houses on Bowen Island posted one of the biggest increases in value this time around. A “typical” home there went up nine per cent from $934,000 in July 2019 to crack the one million mark in July 2020.

Condo values up in North Vancouver

Values of typical strata properties were also up in North Vancouver, rising five per cent in the city, to $690,000, and six per cent in the district, to $732,000. Those are among the highest increases for condos seen in the Lower Mainland, where many areas saw increases of between one and three per cent.

Andy Yan, director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University, said the fact property values rose on the North Shore – as well as in some other more “suburban” areas of the Lower Mainland – could be a reflection of what some demographers are describing as “the great dispersion” seen in the early months of the pandemic, when those who could work from home and no longer had to face long commutes downtown made location decisions based more on “lifestyle” factors.

Condos outside the city core tend to be larger, said Yan, and more attractive “when your condo is not only the place where you sleep, but also where you work and eat and have a daycare [for your kids]. Size does matter.”

For those who no longer have to cross a bridge to get to work because they are working remotely, the desirability of the North Shore is further increased, he said. “It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.”

Real estate sales sales rebounded in summer

Brent Eilers, with Re/Max Masters Realty, said 2020 was “an extremely unusual year” in the real estate market. Sales were slow in the first part of the year and dropped to almost nothing in the early months of the pandemic, he said, only to recover and boom with pent-up demand from mid-summer onwards. In the last six months of the year, “the activity level doubled,” said Eilers.

Eilers said it’s too early to tell if pandemic-caused lifestyle changes will have any lasting impact on the housing market, but said it’s something to watch.

The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board listed the price of a “benchmark” detached house in North Vancouver at about $1.7 million and about $2.8 million in West Vancouver in December.

As usual, changes to assessed values varied considerably between neighbourhoods on the North Shore. Single-family homes in areas like Pemberton Heights, Upper Lonsdale, Fromme and Gleneagles boasted some larger than average increases in assessment value, with assessments rising between nine and 11 per cent. Other areas of the North Shore saw more modest increases of two and three per cent.