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Sweeping rises in Coast home assessments as rural migration continues

BC Assessment’s latest numbers show how the popularity of rural property during the pandemic affected the Sunshine Coast in 2021

As 2022 kicks off, the latest assessed values for residential properties are now available – and numbers are climbing even higher than the first market year affected by the pandemic.

As of July 1, 2021, a typical single-family home was assessed at $895,000 in Gibsons compared to $671,000 the year before – a difference of 33 per cent. The District of Sechelt saw an even larger increase of 37 per cent when the average home rose from $600,000 in 2020 to $819,000 in 2021. 

Many of the rural areas saw even higher increases on the Coast. ts’ukw’um (listed as Wilson Creek on the BC Assessment website) waterfront properties led the way with a 46 per cent increase, while the rest of ts’ukw’um saw 34.7 per cent increase. Halfmoon Bay followed with an increase of 43 per cent for residential value changes between 2020 and 2021. Porpoise Bay saw a 42.50 per cent increase, Pender Harbour properties an increase of 36.6 as West Sechelt experienced an 33.80 per cent increase and Roberts Creek sits at 29.40 per cent.

"British Columbia’s real estate market remains highly active and that means most property owners can expect higher assessment values for 2022,” BC Assessment’s deputy assessor Bryan Murao said in a Jan. 4 press release. "The widely reported heightened demand among homebuyers during the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in the upward movement of property values across the province including 10 to 30 percent increases throughout the Lower Mainland.” 

On the Sunshine Coast,  strata residential values also increased by 34.8 per cent for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), by 25.2 per cent for the Town of Gibsons, followed by 21.9 per cent for the District of Sechelt.

While property values rose in 2021, so did home sales. In the District of Sechelt, 219 homes were sold in the first three quarters of the year. In the first quarter of the year, 69 single family residential properties were sold during a change in value estimated at 24.4 per cent – more than double any change in market value compared to 2020 in the area. That trend continued in the second quarter with 80 homes sold during a 35 per cent increase versus 60 homes at a decrease of two percent in Q2 of the year before. In the third quarter of the year, the last available numbers, 70 Sechelt homes were sold as the change in value rose to 38.3 per cent. During the same period of 2020, 109 homes sold at a two per cent value increase.

Meanwhile, the Town of Gibsons entered 2021 with home sales nearly doubling the first quarter of 2020 with 27 single family residences sold at 28.9 per cent value increase. During the second quarter of the year, home sales in Gibsons nearly tripled compared to that time the year before, as 32 homes (compared to 11 in 2020) were sold at a 31.9 per cent increase in value. Change in value for homes in Gibsons ranged between -5 per cent to a high of 12.7 per cent in 2020. 

In the first three quarters of 2021, 238 single family homes were sold in the SCRD. In that timeframe, value increases ranged from 25.9 to 37.8 per cent for that area.

These property assessments, Murao told Coast Reporter in an interview, do not directly translate into tax increases. Instead, the assessment change is relative to the average residential change in the property’s area.

“So say if, for example, in Gibsons if your property went up  33 per cent, but every residential property went up 33 per cent, your taxes would actually barely change,” he said.  “Our website has this great mapping tool, where you can actually go and you can zoom in right down to Gibsons or Sechelt, for example, and you can go see what was the actual average residential change and when you compare that to yours, that's your assessment change. That's what's actually going to give you the best indication of what you should expect on your property taxes.”

Workers have continued to migrate out of urban areas because of the ongoing pandemic, Tim Morrison, spokesperson for BC Assessment, told Coast Reporter.

“What's happening on the Sunshine Coast is very similar to what's happening in small communities and rural communities throughout British Columbia in terms of percentage increases,” Morrison said.

While traditionally Vancouver’s value increases have attracted homeowners, Morrison said, “During the pandemic, we've seen sort of a different sub-phenomenon play out where it's actually the opposite, where people are moving away from the urban centres and into those smaller communities.” 

Once in a more rural area, where the housing supply is smaller, demand is driven up. Urbanites coming from Vancouver, who may have more funds from a recent sale in the city, are then able to put down high bids and set a market value trend, he added.

One trend among the top increases in the province, Murao told Coast Reporter, is the word ‘rural.’ Although the BC Assessment team is made up of appraisers and not economists, anecdotally, he said there seem to be two factors at play: the growing ability for people to work from anywhere, and more people are retiring, which can also include downsizing and relocating out of cities.  

Across the province, the total value of the 2,142,457 properties assessed is $2.44 trillion, representing an increase of 22 per cent from the previous year. None of the province’s top 500 valued properties are located on the Sunshine Coast. 

Other sectors also saw property value increases on the Sunshine Coast. In the District of Sechelt, businesses rose by 16.5 and light industry saw an increase of 14.8 per cent. In Gibsons, businesses rose 13.4 per cent and light industry’s assessment increased by 16.4 per cent. Businesses in the SCRD saw business property values increase by 13.3 per cent and light industry 8.1 per cent. 

The deadline for property owners to appeal their notice of assessment is Jan. 31. More information can be found at