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Fresh eyes for D.R. Coell property appraisal firm

Darron Kloster

Greater Victoria’s largest real estate appraisal company has a new owner.

Scott Humphreys has acquired D.R Coell & Associates from its long-time partnership group in a succession plan with a twist.

Humphreys, 30, was the boy next door when one of the region’s oldest property evaluators was operating out of the founder’s home on Burnside Road, and Humphreys’ mother, Elaine, worked there.

“Property has always been something I’ve been interested in — everything has value and there are so many variables,” says Humphreys, a real estate agent and certified appraiser. “My mom was the first female appraiser on the Island and has done it for 39 years, and my dad was in construction, so property was something I grew up with.”

Humphreys bought D.R. Coell & Associates from Rick Gordon, Jack Miller and Mike Martyn in a deal that closed in late June. No financial details were disclosed. The firm was founded in 1974 by David Coell, the father of long-time provincial MLA and Saanich councillor Murray Coell. David Coell sold his shares to the three partners in 1984 and died in 2000.

Coell’s trusted name will continue as Humphreys plans to grow one of the Island’s oldest real estate appraisal companies. Former partners Gordon, who started with Coell in 1974, and Miller and Martyn, who have been with the firm since 1977 and 1980, respectively, are all staying on with the company.

The firm earned about $2 million in revenue last year and has 11 staff, including nine appraisers with a combined 300 years of real estate experience.

Humphreys said he will rely on his staff’s experience. He received his Appraisal Institute of Canada designation through the University of British Columbia and bachelor of commerce degree through Royal Roads University. He worked for D.R. Coell in 2009 and later joined rival Baker Osland before being hired by Colliers International, where he was director of evaluation at the commercial real estate firm until last year.

Humphreys takes over a company with a wide client base that ranges from federal, provincial and local governments to owners of industrial and retail properties, golf courses and single-family homes.

The property appraisal business operates in a similar way to B.C. Assessment but is much more focused on individual pieces of property.

“Everything has to be valued at some point,” said Humphreys, noting pre-sales of condominiums, insurance and tax appraisals, appeals to B.C. Assessment — even divorces and deaths.

B.C. Hydro uses D.R. Coell to value right-of-way expropriations for new transmission lines and the forestry ministry uses the firm to value its vast land base as does Environment Canada for parkland. Local and provincial governments also need appraisals for their land, as well as water lots around the region.

Major real estate investment trusts, or REITs, use appraisers when they make major purchases of shopping malls, seniors housing and condo projects, said Humphreys.

The work involves intimate knowledge of local zoning, allowances and all economic aspects of properties, said Humphreys.

“It’s very interesting work and it allows you to get involved in several aspects in a piece of property. And you get outdoors every day.”

Humphreys is happy about settling into a long career in his hometown. Several may know him as a decorated Oak Bay High School athlete, winning three straight provincial rugby titles with the Barbarians in his senior years.

The company continues to offer the annual David Roy Coell Scholarship valued at $1,000 in memory of the founder.