I looked up the value of my Burnaby childhood home. It's ridiculous.

BC Assessment tool a reminder of the haves and have nots in Metro Vancouver

Chris Campbell

A fascinating, yet sad, game was played out on Twitter on Tuesday.

BC Assessment’s website allows you to search to see what the official value is for certain properties. For instance, you could learn that the highest-valued home in B.C. was Lululemon co-founder Chip Wilson’s Kitsilano shack. The official assessment is $73.12 million, down 7.25 per cent from 2017 (sad face emoji). In Burnaby, the new home built by singer Michael Bublé nearly doubled in value in 2018 to $21.7 million. You can read about the state of Burnaby home values here.

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It’s a useful tool to have, but the game that played out on Tuesday turned into an exercise akin to cutting yourself and then pouring iodine on the wound.

A co-worker learned that her New Westminster home had dropped $30,000 in value. Meanwhile, a friend of mine learned that her Burnaby condo had skyrocketed $126,000 in value and $253,000 overall since she bought it two-and-a-half years ago.

OK, maybe that last one’s not so bad, although I made the terrible mistake of sharing this information with another friend who is just 25 and feels like he has no shot at buying a local home - ever. I had inadvertently rubbed his face in it.

That’s the thing about homeownership in Metro Vancouver. It’s a subject that highlights a lot of privilege – from those who own property - and a lot of desperation from those feeling crushed by the stratospheric prices.

Metro Vancouverites try and go about our business like we’re all equal, but in this way, we’re not. There is a large segment of our local population on the outside looking in – with the distance feeling like it’s getting longer every day. It’s made even worse because those who don’t own property struggle to even find a place to rent that isn’t outrageously priced.

family home
It's not quite a dump, but the home where I grew up is not worth anywhere near seven figures. CHRIS CAMPBELL PHOTO

This distance was on display Tuesday like a scab being ripped off as people I know searched the BC Assessment site for the value of their homes where they grew up.

On Twitter, people were recounting tales of their parents buying houses in the 1970s for peanuts – one friend said $40,000 in Vancouver - and how those same houses were now worth seven figures.

Some of the stories were touching about how hard their parents worked to even afford the peanut prices. The horror came from seeing how ridiculous the price of those same houses were in 2018.

I also decided to play.

I looked up my family home in North Burnaby. My parents bought it in 1973, although my mom said yesterday that she couldn’t remember for how much. I’m guessing no more than $40,000.

I typed in the address and up popped $1,273,400. I’m not sure how long I stared at the screen before I blinked, but I’m figuring it was several minutes.

After closing my mouth, I texted the 2018 value to my mom and she responded with a certain expletive I had never heard before from my genteel 79-year-old mother.

My mom felt a little sad at having sold the house before prices really hit ludicrous speed, but who knew then what was to come. My parents had split up and moved to other places. I was actually living alone in the house during my Grade 12 year. They kept paying the mortgage until I graduated high school in 1986 and then sold it.

Makes total sense, but still feels weird.

I don’t know why either of us were shocked given what we know about today’s house prices, but it still burns when you see it on the screen.

It’s not like the house has been upgraded at all. If anything, it’s gotten worse. Owners over the years have let the place fall apart (yes, I drive by occasionally to check).

Money for nothing but time.





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