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Residential properties rise in value during pandemic as hotels decrease

Jason Stockfish | advertising@fitzhugh.ca

Residential buildings in Jasper increased eight per cent in overall value, while non-residential properties decreased three per cent, according to property assessments for 2021.

Troy Birtles, assessment co-ordinator with Accurate Assessment Group (AAG) located in Sherwood Park, presented these figures to council at its April 19 meeting.

The total number of Jasper properties assessed by AAG was 1,443.

While all residential properties fall into the same category, non-residential is mostly made up of restaurants, retail, office space and the hotel sector, Birtles explained. 

For homes with approved accommodations, a percentage of the assessed value and tax base is calculated as non-residential.

The three-per-cent decrease includes all non-residential buildings in Jasper.

However, when the hotel sector is studied in isolation, the results are drastically different, as hotels and resorts saw a 13-per-cent decrease in value in 2021.

For reference, when non-residential valuations exclude the hotel sector, that three-per-cent decrease becomes a four-per-cent increase.

According to AAG, accommodation properties decreasing in value while all other non-residential properties are rising “represents a shifting within the non-residential assessment class.” 

Birtles said this significant drop in hotel and resort property values is directly attributable to the pandemic.

“This is due primarily to the lodging industry suffering through COVID, and a significant part of (Jasper’s) non-residential assessment base is comprised of the hotel industry.”

Seemingly unphased by the pandemic, the value of all residential homes in Jasper passed the one-billion mark for the first time ever.

“We’ve had continued growth for many, many, many years in Jasper,” Birtles said.

The vast majority of residential properties increased anywhere from one to 10 per cent in value last year.

Birtles explained that as oil and gas “is a primary driver” of many economies in Alberta, not all of the municipalities that AAG represents are as fortunate as Jasper in terms of market value.

With an economy rooted in tourism, Jasper is not affected to the same degree by booms and busts in the energy sector. 

AAG’s report for 2021 assessed all residential properties in Jasper at $1,028,099,150, an increase of eight per cent over 2020 figures. 

In 2004, the total value of residential buildings in Jasper was under $400 million. 

Of the more than 1,300 residential buildings AAG assessed in town, 163 of them have a value of $1 million or more.

The majority of the homes in Jasper (824 properties) are valued between $400,000 and $1 million. 

As property taxes are calculated based on the assessed value of the property, a decreased value means a lower tax bill and an increased home value creates a higher rate.

As AAG’s report explained, “This represents a shift of overall tax burden to the residential sector.”

When looking over the history of assessments compiled by AAG, the decrease in non-residential values appears to be an anomaly created by the pandemic and the lack of travellers needing accommodation in Jasper.

The same report showed that the increase in values for residential properties is a constant that has shown a steady rise for many years.

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