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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Isaac

Things To Know Before Buying a Home in British Columbia

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

There’s a funny thing about Albertans. We love to vacation in British Columbia! I’ll be the first to admit that I vacation in B.C. a lot.

We vacationed there so much that we bought a place in Penticton to be closer to my parents.

Because the weather is typically milder on the B.C. side of the Rockies, a lot of Albertans want to buy in the province. But, many buyers are surprised by a few differences in buying a home in British Columbia than in Alberta.

They say that B.C. means "Bring Cash" and it may be true when it comes to taxation of homes.

As a mortgage broker who can help folks in both provinces (yes! I can do that!) Here are my top four things to know about buying a home in British Columbia.

Land Transfer Tax

The Property Transfer Tax (PTT), or Land Transfer Tax, is a one-time provincial tax that is paid by you, the buyer, when you purchase a home. It’s charged when the property title is transferred to you from the seller.

This is NOT the same thing as your annual property tax! Your property taxes you pay annually, or monthly depending on your agreement, while the Land Transfer Tax is paid only once.

Your real estate lawyer will calculate the total amount owed at the time the statement of adjustments is done. Using the fair market value of the property you’re purchasing, the lawyer will calculate the PTT using the following:

  • 1% on the first $200,000

  • 2% on the balance up to and including $2,000,000

  • 3% on the balance greater than $2,000,000

  • if the property is residential, a further 2% on the portion of the fair market value greater than $3,000,000

According to the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA), the average price of a home in B.C. was $893,800 in 2021. Using the above guidelines, you would be paying around $15,876 for the Land Transfer Tax. This fee is in addition to the other closing costs associated with your purchase.

Lenders will verify the full 1.5% of closing costs for a B.C. purchase to ensure you have funds for Land Transfer tax.

Of course, there are some nuances with this tax. For example, if you’re a first time home buyer who is purchasing a primary residence under $500,000, or a newly built home under $750,000, you might be exempt from this tax.

And! If you’re a foreign buyer/entity, then you are subject to an additional property transfer tax of 20% of the fair market value of the purchased property.

Just figuring out the Land Transfer Tax is alone is a great reason to work with a mortgage broker!

Property Taxes

Like the rest of Canada, property taxes are determined by your property’s assessed value, where your property is located, and the type of property you have.

However in B.C., property taxes can be calculated differently depending on if you have a BC Home owner grant.

This grant can help reduce your annual property tax amount, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are the registered owner of the residence,

  • You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada,

  • You live in B.C.

  • You occupy the residence as your principal residence,

  • The assessed or partitioned value of your property must not exceed the grant threshold ($1,975,000 in 2022), although properties over this amount can receive a partial grant.

However, this grant is not perpetual. You must apply for it every year.

You can receive additional grants if you meet further criteria, such as you are a senior or a veteran.

Speculation and Empty Homes Tax

When buying a home in British Columbia, be aware that some areas have a Speculation and Empty Homes Tax.

This tax is an annual tax that applies based on:

  • How property owners use their residential property,

  • The property owner’s residency status,

  • Where property owners earn and report their income.

This tax was put in place to ensure adequate housing for British Columbians, slowing people from buying property but not living in B.C.

While most primary residents are exempt from paying this tax, those who are looking to purchase secondary or vacation homes, may not be.

The government announced that it will be expanding this tax to more B.C. communities in 2023. Make sure to check which locations have this tax as they change frequently and without warning.

Home Insurance and Wildfires

If you’re looking to move west, research early about home insurance and what’s fully covered.

I’ve started to see some insurers limit new policies based on proximity to wildfires during Wildfire Season. Depending on your location, this policy limit could affect your closing or home sale.

Work With An Experienced Broker if Buying in British Columbia

As a born and raised British Columbian, I’m a bit biased about the province. I love it there.

That said, buying there is more difficult than in other regions across the country. There are a lot more factors to consider—especially on the tax side—which impacts budget, timing, type of property, and location.

If you’re thinking about buying in British Columbia, give me a call and let’s figure out how we can find your next mountain…or lakeside home.

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