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Government reduces tax burden on first-time buyers

First-time home buyers received welcome news in today’s provincial budget. Any REALTORS® currently working with first-time buyers will want to share this news with them as soon as possible.

The government has announced, effective February 19, 2014, under the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers’ Exemption program, qualifying first-time buyers can buy a home worth up to $475,000. The previous threshold was $425,000.

The partial exemption continues and will apply to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.

With this change, the government estimates 1,700 additional first-time buyers will annually be eligible to save up to $7,500 in PTT when they buy their home.

The government estimates this measure will cost $8 million in lost tax revenue each year.

The Real Estate Board, together with BC Real Estate Association, has actively lobbied to make home ownership more affordable for first-time home buyers. This increase in the threshold clearly signals our efforts have paid off as in past years.

In 2008, as a result of industry lobbying, the provincial government increased the threshold to $425,000 from $375,000. 

In 2005, the government increased the threshold to $325,000 from $275,000.

The PTT is calculated at a rate of one per cent on the first $200,000 and two per cent on the remaining value of the purchase price.

Here is a link to the Budget.:

Home Owner Grant Threshold Increases

The BC government has increased the home owner grant threshold to $1.6 million from $1.2 million, a 33% increase over 2016.

The threshold is the maximum a property can be assessed at by BC Assessment to allow the property owner to claim the full Home Owner Grant.

This threshold increase helps ensure home owners who received the grant last year will also receive it in 2017. Province-wide, 91% of homes will remain below the threshold. In Metro Vancouver, 83% of homes will be below the threshold.

The grant reduces the amount of property tax an owner pays. To qualify, you must be the registered owner, occupy your home as a principal residence, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and live in BC.

If a property has an assessed value of $1,600,000 or less, the Home Owner Grant may reduce property taxes up to $570 for the basic grant. If the owner is aged 65+, is disabled, or is a qualified war veteran, an additional grant of $275 is available (for a total of $845).

If the property is located in a northern and rural area, the grant is $770. It may be increased to $1,045 if the owner is a senior, disabled, or a veteran.

Low income home owners who would have received the additional home owner grant except for the high value of their home can apply for a low-income grant supplement or a veterans supplement.

What are the exact home price thresholds?

The basic grant threshold is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,600,000. The grant isn’t available for properties assessed over $1,714,000 ($1,754,000 in a northern and rural area).

The additional grant threshold is also reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,600,000. But the grant is phased out for properties valued at $1,769,000 or over.

Partitioned value

If you have a laneway home or multi-family dwelling - for example, a duplex, triplex and fourplex - they may qualify as separate residences. A suite in a principal residence doesn’t qualify.

Partitioning the property value may enable a home owner to claim the home owner grant if the:

  • home owner previously couldn’t, or could only claim a reduced grant, because of the high assessed value of your property, and
  • property consists of your principal residence and at least one separate residence

A property owner may apply to have the assessed value of their property partitioned using the Home Owner Grant Partitioning of Assessed Value Calculation (FIN 91).

Make sure you claim the grant

The grant isn’t provided automatically. Home owners must apply every year when they pay their property taxes. The application is part of the property tax notice that owners will receive in June.

Tax Deferment programs Home owners who have difficulty keeping up with rising property assessments may also be eligible to defer all or a portion of their property taxes.

The BC government also provides property tax deferral programs for qualifying property owners, including seniors aged 55+, persons with disabilities, and families with children.

Deferment programs are low-interest loan programs that allow qualifying residents to defer all or part of their property taxes until they sell or transfer ownership of their home, or it becomes part of an estate. Home owners planning to participate in a tax deferment program should seek appropriate financial advice.

Learn more 

Chana Charach at Synergy Mortgage talks to us about timing.

‘Timing Timing Timing’ – How Important is It?


We have all heard location, location, location, and Vancouver certainly has it covered in that department.  But how important is timing the real estate market for buyers and sellers?

The fact is there is no crystal ball when it comes to timing the real estate market. However, is there anything home buyers or sellers can do to have an advantage? asked our Real Estate Insiders, Marni and Shannon to shed some light on Timing The Real Estate Market… Is timing the market important?

Marni and Shannon: Vancouver is a beautiful and unique city, and certainly the question of location has already been answered. As we were both born here, you may say that we are somewhat biased. However, Vancouver is consistently voted the best city to live in year after year.

There is an old saying, “buy low, sell high”, and in an ideal world this statement would ring true. However, buying and selling real estate is personal, since it depends on an individual’s circumstances. We often see clients sell in a “seller’s market”, and rent until the market shifts. In most cases it doesn’t work, and they struggle to get back into the market. So if you are buying and selling, we usually suggest doing it in the same market. Is winter a good time to buy or sell, or is it better to wait for spring?

Marni and Shannon: Winter months offer great opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

There are fewer homes on the market for sellers to compete with, so therefore their homes get a first and second look. Many serious buyers resolve to buy a home in the new year, which makes them energized and determined. As a buyer, you may also want to take advantage of sellers who are waiting for the “spring market”. Get a jump on them and move ahead in a marketplace where inventory is lighter.

Buyers will find less competition from other purchasers through the months of January and February. This is because the weather is usually dark and wet, which may not allow you to see the property in its best light. As a buyer, you attain a more real perspective, and aren’t distracted by flowers blooming and birds chirping. While inventory may be lower, buyers are able to focus more on their specific needs. We often see price reductions over the holidays, and shopping off season may give you negotiating power since fewer buyers are viewing homes and sellers are motivated. Is there a good time to make an offer?

Marni and Shannon: When you find the right house! Is there a recommended day of the week to list your house?

Marni and Shannon: Listing a home takes time and planning. Aside from the necessary paperwork to be filled out, an agent has to arrange for photos and floor plans, as well as implement a marketing plan and more. To launch a property properly and successfully, we usually need a 7 – 10 day head start on the planned launch date. This gives us the time to do what we need to do, and gives the sellers time to make any small repairs, do some de-cluttering, etc. We typically try to arrange for new property listings to come out on the MLS on a Thursday so that agents can plan their weekend tours. The property will be visible to the public on the Friday, allowing them to decide which open houses they want to view. By the time the open house rolls around on the Saturday or Sunday, the property is showing as being on the market for only 2 – 3 days, which creates some urgency for the buyers. When is it time to stop renting and buy a home?

Marni and Shannon: Some people are content with renting since they don’t have to worry about maintenance of the property. However, neither do the landlords most of the time!

Here are a few indicators that may mean you are ready to pay your own mortgage and not someone else’s:

• When it makes sense financially

• You have found a neighborhood that you want to live in long term

• Mortgage rates are rising

• Real estate isn’t getting any cheaper

• When you need more space and stability

• Your family is expanding

• When your rental property isn’t the cheaper option

The bottom line is try not to obsess over timing the real estate market and anticipating its cycles. If you are selling and buying your next home in the same city in the same real estate market, timing doesn’t come into play, since your gains will offset your losses and vice versa. As for the best time to buy, that would be when you have found your perfect home and can financially afford it.

Interview Blog with Marni and Shannon