The BC government’s move to increase the Property Transfer Tax exemption threshold for first-time buyers is being welcomed by the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.
“We are encouraged that this government is paying attention to the needs of first-time homebuyers,” says Anthony Bastiaanssen, OMREB President.
The increase, announced as part of the government’s 2017 budget, ups the threshold from $475,000 to $500,000 and takes effect today.
It means people buying their first home won’t pay the tax as long as the home is under $500,000.
“As soon as it is any amount over $500,000, then the full property transfer tax would be applicable,” Bastiaanssen tells Kiss FM.
Bastiaanssen says there is a likely a decent selection of homes under that amount in the North Okanagan.
“That’s not just houses. It could be a condo or townhouse.”
The change could save a first time buyer up to $8,000 in tax.
“We welcome this increase, although it would make sense to index this threshold and all others related to the Property Transfer Tax, so that home buyers aren’t left behind when the market moves as it did this past year,” says Bastiaanssen.
He says the thresholds could be adjusted annually to reflect current market conditions.
The British Columbia Real Estate Association recommended in January that the first-time buyer exemption be increased to $750,000, a number that would align with the exemption for newly-built homes and the BC HOME Partnership program.
OMREB says that would have offered more choice for home buyers, because the First Time Home Buyers’ Program exemption applies to all homes, rather than just newly-built homes, which can be out-of-reach for first-time buyers.”
“Low housing supply impacts affordability, so it’s also encouraging that the government is planning to partner with local governments to increase housing supply,” adds Bastiaanssen, noting a 30% drop in the number of Okanagan properties available for sale this year as compared to last year in the region served by OMREB.
OMREB is a member-governed not-for-profit association representing more than 1000 realtors and 92 real estate offices within the southern interior region of British Columbia from Peachland to Revelstoke.
Photo: Anthony Bastiaanssen, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board.