Home ownership still sensible choice

The best thing we can take away from the 2012 statistics is that Greater Victoria is a solid place to invest.

A lot of numbers get trotted out every year at this time as B.C. Assessment Authority releases its annual evaluation of property values around the province.

We’re given an astronomical dollar amount representing the total worth of so many theoretical “average” properties.

For most of us, however, any number in the billions is as mystifying as the difference between the amount of stars in the sky and the number of grains of sand at the beach.

Perhaps the best thing we can take away from the 2012 statistics is that Greater Victoria is a solid place to invest for individuals, families and people looking to do business here.

Buying a home, for the vast majority of people, should be first and foremost about having a place to live. It is the single-biggest expenditure most of us will ever make, a fact that is especially true for people living in B.C.’s southwest.

And while housing prices here continue to be exceptionally high, there is some comfort in knowing our region has a few exceptional factors in its favour.

Greater Victoria does have a strong economy, with such major employers as the provincial government, the Royal Canadian Navy, the University of Victoria and Camosun College and the Vancouver Island Health Authority providing stability.

Plus we have a long and proven history as a place where people want to live and retire.

Over the last few decades, property values here have risen dramatically, dipped slightly and stayed relatively flat for extended periods of time. The latest figures from B.C. Assessment seem to confirm that home ownership in Greater Victoria is a relatively stable place to put your money.

That said, there are warning signs emerging that real estate across the country is showing signs of a classic bubble, according to a December report by economists with the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Such news should be a concern to anyone thinking they can continue to reap huge profits by flipping properties.

But the majority of people in the Capital Region are not land speculators, and long-term ownership of a home in Greater Victoria continues to be a sound investment.