The Basics Of Real Estate Capital Valuations

The real estate market in New Zealand is constantly changing, with property values peaking and dipping with an almost seasonal frequency. To be able to maintain a sense of order, and determine rates, local councils have taken to issuing CVs across all properties within their region. When spoken of in real estate terms, a CV refers to a capital valuation. This figure acts as a barometer for shifts within the property market at large. Let’s take a look at some of the basics of CVs to help you gain an understanding of the part they play in real estate.

What is a Capital Valuation?

It represents the figure that would probably have been paid for your property if it had been sold at the date of the previous valuation. This is not the same as a market valuation and includes only the bare bones of a property, not taking into account any chattels or other additions recently affixed. For this reason, capital valuations have little bearing on actual real estate sales in New Zealand. Depending on the current real condition of a property it could sell for far more, or even far less, than a council certified CV.

The Difference Between Capital, Land and Improvement Value

Other important terms to understand are land and improvement value. While capital valuation refers to the selling price of the property at the time of the valuation, the land value is an assessment of the price of only the land at the time of valuation, disregarding any buildings on the property. The improvement value takes into account improvements such as driveways, paths and fencing, and is the difference between the capital value and the land value.

Why Do We Have Capital Valuations?

They are a requirement under New Zealand law, with councils having to provide a figure for local properties every three years. This information is publicly accessible online and gives a general overview of changes in the real estate market from area to area. The important thing to first understand about capital valuations is that they under no circumstances represent the market value of a property. Their function is more statistical in nature than as a tool for measuring the real worth of any one home.

Whilst the real estate market in New Zealand is usually fairly stable, and not influenced by international markets on a daily basis, the main city of Auckland, where one quarter of the country’s population live, does tend to show property trends before other regions, and usually the smaller the region the less volatile the market. In these regions such as Southland, West Coast and Northland, the prices that houses are sold for will be closer to the rated value than those in the main cities such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch which are far more susceptible to supply and demand requirements.

How is a Capital Valuation Calculated?

With regard to the actual process of assessing ones CV, council surveyors will visit approximately half of the properties within their region during each three year review period. First they will inspect the nature of the property and examine whether it holds the same classification as last time (i.e.: apartment block, house, townhouse, etc). Notes will also be made on land features, such as the quality of the view relative to surrounding abodes, and the general character and standard of the property as a whole. This process will take place every three years across New Zealand, until every piece of real estate is assigned a CV figure.

What Purpose Does It Serve?

Aside from being required under the law, capital valuations provide a stable base from which the regional (such as Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury) and district (such as New Plymouth, Napier, Kaikoura) council rates can be calculated. One method of calculating annual rates is to charge five percent of a property’s CV. There are other methods also used to determine rates, but capital valuations help regulate this process. Whatever the case, they are a core element of the real estate landscape of New Zealand.

Costa Rica Real Estate: A Growing Market in Paradise

In 2006, if anyone asked about investing in Costa Rica real estate, one likely response would have been, “quit asking questions and buy!” In recent years, the same cannot be said. The housing market has suffered as a result of the US crash. However, murmurs of revitalization in the market are spreading, and the future for real estate within Costa Rica is poised to return to the prominence it once held.

Over the course of the past few years, there has been a steep decline in purchases of land and luxury homes. Almost all sales involving expensive estates have come at a discounted rate. Even so, such sales are few and far between, since the Costa Rica real estate market is known to be inelastic. In the past, bank financing for homes tended to be quite unfavorable, when it could even be found to begin with. Paying for homes in cash is very common here. With very little yearly holding costs and few bank loans to be repaid, most sellers are reluctant to lower their sale price to accommodate the decrease in demand.

However, recently financing with features similar to the US lending market has become available, which is great for the future of the market. To avoid crises in lending, strict policy has been implemented to allow banks a specific ratio of what they can lend in relation to their total reserves[1]. This makes Costa Rica an even more accessible location to people looking to invest or relocate to a new country.

When the Liberia airport opened in the Guanacaste region in 2002, the northwest Pacific coast of Costa Rica became much easier to access, quickly developing into a hub for tourism and real estate. Nearly all international US airports have direct flights to San Jose, and the list of cities with direct flights to Liberia are compounding promptly – and for cities that don’t have direct flights, transfers in Miami, Houston, or southern California are just 3 hours from Costa Rica!

Though Guanacaste is a popular province for expatriates, it was one of the regions that took the hardest hits during the crash in the Costa Rica real estate market. Interestingly, the greater San José metropolitan area continued sales without interruption, which is attributed to its flexibility in options, accessibility, infrastructure, and mild climate. Plus, beach side and ocean view homes tend to be more expensive given the cost of land. Sales on homes around the $350,000 range have picked up recently, and developers have taken notice! Project Mar Vista on Guanacaste’s gold coast is preparing to offer ocean view home packages starting at $350,000, less than one mile away from the beach in an eco-friendly, gated community.

Overall, the Costa Rica real estate market is still in a recession. However, with the Central Valley selling in full stride, increases is access to financing, and the growth in the number of options on the market, the Costa Rica real estate is rapidly regrowing its liveliness.