Musqueam Leaseholds

While the concept that single-family homes listed over $1 million holds true for the overwhelmingly vast majority of properties west of Oak Street, there is pocket of exquisite mansions where it appears prices are caught in a time warp.

On the Musqueam First Nations Reserve, located adjacent to SW Marine Drive, 4,000 sq. ft. homes and 10,000 sq. ft. lots are the norm. The surprise is that these properties, often with immaculate landscaping, are frequently listed at well under the seven-figure plateau. It is not uncommon to see $600K and $700K price tags for listings.

There is a rub however. Ownership of these properties is not freehold, or fee simple. Instead owner-residents have a leasehold ownership that ultimately it is the Musqueam Band which owns the land and under the original 99-year lease signed in 1965, the land is expected to revert back to the First Nation in 2064.

The other catch, another proviso from the 1965 lease that has since created 73 properties, is that annual lease payments are made to the band, over and above any property taxes paid to the city of Vancouver. Six percent of the assessed property value is due every June with assessments measured in 1995, 2015, 2035 and 2055.

Presently these payments hover around the $7-10,000 mark for these properties. The calculation of this figure was not easy to determine though as originally the tribal Council assessed the land at full market value while the owner-residents, the majority of whom are non-Native and have no voting rights during Tribal elections, argued the land, because of its tenuous leasehold status, was not worth what the market would otherwise bear. After five years, and a Supreme Court of Canada decision, the leaseholders won their case.

It appears property values are between 40-50% on the Musqueam reserve than what similar multi-level homes on large plots would obtain elsewhere; often the comparisons come from just blocks away in the Dunbar and Southlands neighbourhoods of the city. 

Yes, the leasehold ownerships and the annual levy payments are significant factors toward any decision regarding the purchase or sale on the reserve. Still, there is no denying that a drive, or better yet, a walk, through this subdivision provides a gorgeous insight into some architectural creativity and master gardenry.


source: Matt Ross

Sanjin Cvetkovic

Sanjin Cvetkovic

CENTURY 21 In Town Realty
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