Property values across the Peace Region are going up, but the local assessments are not nearly as impressive, with Fort St. John only increasing 6.9 per cent overall – less than the regional average.
Of course, our real estate market is hardly stagnant. There are quite a few areas in the province where the average assessments have actually decreased, such as Whistler Village, which saw a 12.6 per cent drop in value, or the 5.8 per cent decline seen in Vancouver family homes on the west side of the city.
There is no question that our city is growing and thriving, the issue here is just a matter of pace.
There are advantages to having a property market that stops sprinting and slows down to the steady pace of a marathon runner.
For one, it allows City Hall time to react to the suddenly increased, and often changing, needs of the residents. So far, our local government has been able to catch up to these challenges, which is essential because nothing drives potential homeowners away from a sale faster than declining infrastructure and bad city services.
We want to entice those families to buy a house, put down roots and grow up here. While we certainly appreciate the young men and women who are happy to spend their money while passing through, families build a community.
When the real estate market stops to smell the roses, it is young families who benefit the most. They are the ones most easily priced out of the housing market.
A young couple who pays their bills and balances their budget should be able to afford a home. When the wedding bells stop ringing and the babies start crying, they don't want to be stuck in a "high density" apartment, paying the property manager money that they could be investing in real estate.
Vancouver is notorious for this. With run-down shacks going for close to a million dollars, young families must decide whether they want to mortgage their future for the opportunity to stay in a small urban apartment, or move away from their friends and relatives to find a home somewhere more affordable – like Fort St. John.
We are family friendly, and we're set to stay that way.
So remember, when you open your property assessment and wonder whether Tumbler Ridge would have been a better investment, that it's important to play the long game.
Properties values are going up, families are growing and it's much better to be a tortoise than a hare.