Residents can be expecting their property assessments for 2012, and across the Coast, values are in decline.
Overall, the value of residential property on the Sunshine Coast decreased from $9.75 billion to $9.26 billion this year, an overall loss of about five per cent.
“It definitely is a buyers’ market for sure,” said Realtor Brian Christoff.
Among some of the greater decreases were non-waterfront properties in Pender Harbour, which dropped by an average of nine per cent compared to 2011 prices.
The average value of a non-waterfront single family dwelling in Gibsons fell from $459,000 to $431,000.
Sechelt saw moderate declines across all types of property, while the average price of a waterfront home in Roberts Creek was $69,000 less than last year’s average price of $1.15 million.
“People who have their mortgages in place and they’ve got their financing all approved or pre-approved can find real bargains out there,” Christoff said.
Higher end homes in areas like Secret Cove are still getting good value, he added, but in areas with higher supplies, the prices are weakening.
Since the 2008 economic downturn, the vitality of the Sunshine Coast real estate market has taken a significant blow.
While the year prior to the crisis saw 727 transactions, 2008 finished with only 450. Since then, the numbers have failed to return to their previous heights.
“Each area on the Coast has its own different demographic,” Christoff said, pointing to areas like Halfmoon Bay where sales have dropped by an estimated 45 per cent, a different trend from Roberts Creek, where numbers have stayed relatively flat.
While the number of sales might paint a grim picture for owners looking to sell, he added that a spark like the St. Mary’s Hospital renovation could have a significant overall impact.
“The fortunate thing about the Sunshine Coast is that there’s not a lot of numbers,” he explained. “When the hospital gets built and word gets out with seniors who are retiring, hey, we’ve got great health care on the Coast, that could represent 50 or 100 [sales].”
For those thinking the lower numbers might mean a break on this year’s property taxes, it probably won’t happen unless an owner’s assessment shows a value loss greater than the municipal average.
While assessment numbers figure into the equation when calculating property levies, the actual tax rates could change as local governments begin work on their 2012 budgets.
Faced with a lower overall assessment, governments on the Sunshine Coast could require a rate hike in order to generate revenues comparable to 2011 levels.
“All things equal, our tax rate, and the rate is just the number that’s applied against individual values, would likely go up in order to generate the same revenue from a smaller base,” explained Gibsons Director of Finance Ian Poole.
Those who might wish to appeal their assessment should do it soon before the numbers are frozen, Poole recommended.