A Richmond, B.C., farm property has sold for more than 100 times its assessed value, opening up a new potential development site in the booming suburb where home prices continue to skyrocket.
The eight-hectare Richmond property on Blundell Road was asssessed at $84,264 for 2017, a slight dip from the previous year.
But, it sold for $9.2 million with the mortgage officially changing hands on Oct. 30, 2017.
The city of Richmond has some of the highest housing prices in the region, and land for potential development is so valuable that locals complain that attempts to stop development from devouring farmland are not enough.
"People are going to be angry," says Richmond Coun. Harold Steves, who explained that farmland is assessed at a lower rate to benefit farmers.
"Nobody is buying that land to farm it. If you pay that kind of money you are not a farmer."
Sale of farmland to build so-called "mega-mansions" has become a contentious issue, even reaching B.C.'s Legislature. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver tabled a private member's bill in October aimed at amending the Property Law Act to restrict the sale of farm parcels in the Agricultural Land Reserve of more than five acres to foreign entities without cabinet permission.
When I see Mark and Dan finally happy with the price of near $10 million offer of their property , then I become really happy! pic.twitter.com/hE4Cjj7l9B— @LaylaYangRealty
Earlier in the spring, Richmond city council passed a law limiting the size of homes that can be built on a half-acre of farmland to 10,764 square feet. The law came after months of heated public hearings over use of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
But Steves said that's not enough.
"It's simply not encouraging farming at all because anybody who is building a 10,000-square-foot house is not in it to make money on five acres or 20 acres of blueberries," said Steves.
He said in one case the city had to reject a bid to build a 40,000-square-foot home — big enough for 21 bedrooms.
Weaver, an outspoken advocate for food security and similar agricultural issues, said he agrees with a lobby effort to limit further sale of farm land.
"Agricultural land is precious. The delta region is some of the most wonderful soil to grow on that you'll find in Canada. So when we start to turn this into condos or use it for speculation it creates an issue," he said.
The property on Blundell Road appears to be registered to an incorporated company whose sole director's address is listed as a $2-million condominium on Howe Street in Vancouver.
Calls to the director — Xuan Ming Wu — went unanswered.
And it's unclear what plans are for the Blundell property now that it's sold, as first reported in theBreaker.news.
Realtor Layla Yang announced the deal back in June on social media, saying her sellers — Michael and Dan Drozdowski, the sole directors of My Glory Farms Ltd. — were thrilled.
The property was listed in June for $9.6 million, a price drop from the original description as an $11-million investment property in 2015.
In an interview with CBC News, Yang said the sale is a positive thing for Richmond, as the property will be well cared for.
"There are always upset people. Always," said Yang, who has sold many high-profile properties in Vancouver's Point Grey and Richmond, and said often there's a negative reaction if her clients are non-white.
"If they have the money, they are abiding by the law. I don't see why there is a problem."
Yang said she suspects some of the outrage stems from racism.
In the case of the Blundell Road property, she said her buyers plan to clean up the property that became too onerous for the former owners whose family held it for decades.
"It's very hard for them to take care of. So this is a good thing. It's a really good thing," Yang said.
I sold my listing 13000 Blundell Rd 20acres agricultural land! Asking price is $9.680.000,My sellers Mark and Dan finally retired from here! pic.twitter.com/sx0ikVGBbl— @LaylaYangRealty