Condo values march higher in Greater Victoria

Condominiums in the capital region are rising in assessed value as buyers are increasingly attracted to the often less-costly alternatives to single-family homes.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in values,” Tony Zarsadias of The Condo Group real estate company said Tuesday. He anticipates the condo market will continue to attract buyers, predicting prices will increase by about five per cent this year.

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B.C. Assessment notices are going out this week to owners of more than 148,000 properties in the capital region. Strata-titled properties and single-family home assessments are rising by between two and eight per cent on average. Assessments represent the estimated market value as of July 1, 2015.

North Saanich and a section of View Royal on the north side of the highway will experience some of the higher percentage increases, said Reuben Danakody, Island assessor for B.C. Assessment, a Crown agency.

The condo with the highest assessment in Greater Victoria is at 2101-83 Saghalie Rd., in the Promontory at Songhees, which is valued at $5.9 million. In second place is a condominium at 2000 Hannington Rd., on Bear Mountain in Langford. It is valued at $4.78 million. A Shoal Point condo at 921-21 Dallas Rd., in James Bay has the next highest assessment at $4.228 million.

Those are the top-end properties. The benchmark price (representing a typical property) for a condo sold in Greater Victoria last month was $305,000. That’s up by 6.2 per cent from a $287,200 benchmark price in December 2014, according to the Greater Victoria Real Estate Board. Total sales of capital region condos bumped up to 2,054 in 2015, from 1,626 the year before.

Condo values are rising in Fairfield, Oak Bay, Saanich and especially in the eastern part of that municipality, as well as downtown, Vic West and the area around Uptown shopping centre, Zarsadias said.

“It just goes to show that people are taking interest in living where there is newer construction,” he said.

Some buyers are tired of yard work and maintaining a house and are downsizing to condos, Zarsadias said. Others can’t afford a single-family house in this market.

The benchmark price for a single-family home in the region was $613,600 in December, an increase of 9.4 per cent from the previous year.

Builders are putting more thought into the floor plans for condos as buyers are attracted to more compact living spaces, Zarsadias said. “People are just not tending to collect as much stuff as they used to. They have adjusted to living in smaller spaces. For a lot of people, it is just the way they prefer to live.”

Condo construction is booming. The city of Victoria is a traditional hot spot for condo developments where many buyers are drawn to the convenience of lifestyle in or near downtown where they can enjoy amenities in the city’s core.

Some projects are newly built, while others incorporate historic buildings. These include the 122-unit Janion on Store Street, with micro-lofts that started at $110,000, being developed by Reliance Properties. Local developer Chris Le Fevre is converting two old buildings in Chinatown into condos that will cost about $300,000. He is also building out his 13-acre Railyards property in Vic West, which will eventually contain about 500 new homes, condos and townhouses.

Abstract Developments is aiming to take a planned 81-unit, six-storey, $30-million condo and commercial project on Fort and Cook streets to market this spring. It will replace a single-storey commercial building.

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