Edmonton

Infill behind rising property values in high-end Windsor Park, residents say

An influx of infill housing in Windsor Park and other desirable neighbourhoods is driving the highest increases in Edmonton property values this year.

Property values in five Edmonton neighbourhoods up nearly 10 per cent this year

Residents in Windsor Park and other desirable neighbourhoods are seeing infill homes drive up property values. (Chris Proctor)

An influx of infill housing in Windsor Park and other desirable neighbourhoods is driving the highest increases in Edmonton property values this year.

Home values in Virginia Park, Glenora, Oliver, Quesnell Heights and Windsor Park are up between 8.4 and 9.6 per cent this year, according to the city's assessment reports.

Gail Powley, president of the Windsor Park community league, has lived in the neighbourhood for 22 years. She has no doubt that lot splitting and infill over the past couple of years are pushing values up.

Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson also sees infill development as a factor in higher neighbourhood property values.

"In the long run, it certainly doesn't hurt people's property values," Henderson said.

Developers are buying many of the old properties in Windsor Park, splitting the lots and building skinny houses," Powley said.

"Two homes are going to be worth more on the market than if he [the developer] had kept it as one big home. So he's making a lot more money than if he was just to upgrade a single house." 
Residents in Windsor Park and other desirable neighbourhoods are seeing infill homes drive up property values. (Gail Powley)

As of July 1, 2017, the average market value of a home in Windsor Park was estimated to be $857,000, a 9.6-per-cent increase from the same date in 2016.

For Edmonton as a whole, a typical single-family detached home was valued at $399,500 on July 1, 2017, up 0.6 per cent from the previous year.

Henderson said it's unfortunate some neighbourhoods see such a big increase in one year, but pointed out that property values — and therefore taxes — average out over time.
City Coun. Ben Henderson said he wishes the city had bought the Mill Creek property and turned it back into park land. (CBC)

"One year somebody goes up and another year they'll be lower," he said. "There are always neighbourhoods that are hit hard."

City figures show that in 2016-17, assessments on Windsor Park properties went up an average of only 0.1 per cent. Over a five-year period, the median increase has been 4.6 per cent.

Joan Lynch, a real estate agent in Windsor Park for 28 years, said 2017 was her most successful year.

Lynch paid $220,000 for her Windsor Park home in 1991 and now gets offers of $1.3 million from people looking to buy it.

She said it's actually difficult to pin down the average value of a home in the neighbourhood because there's such a mix of old and new homes.

Higher values equal higher taxes

In December, city council approved a 2018 operating budget with a suggested property tax increase of 3.2 per cent.

Property tax bills are based on assessed values, and with such a large increase identified in Windsor Park values, Powley questions the fairness.

"If the rest of the city is relatively the same and we're 10-per-cent higher, that seems drastic," she said.

"We do recognize that being by the university and the hospital is what we've decided to do so we grin and bear it versus complaining about it."

However, she acknowledges the perks of living in the river valley neighbourhood, near the University of Alberta and hospitals, with professional neighbours who desire a short commute to work.

Lynch says Windsor Park is one of the more desirable neighbourhoods in Edmonton and homes are in high demand. 
A high-end home on Saskatchewan Drive is on the market for $4,998,888. (Re/Max)

"The location is fabulous," she said. "It's definitely a high-end neighbourhood.

"If you can afford to live in Windsor Park, you can afford to pay the taxes — that's how I look at it."

Final property tax bills will be mailed in May after the province determines the amount it needs to fund its education system.

Homeowners who don't agree with this year's property assessment need to contact the city before the final tax bills go out.

@natashariebe

About the Author

Natasha Riebe

Journalist

Natasha Riebe landed at CBC News in Edmonton after radio, TV and print journalism gigs in Halifax, Seoul, Yellowknife and on Vancouver Island. Please send tips in confidence to natasha.riebe@cbc.ca.

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