February 2012
Connections (February 2012)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – February 2012 
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  Shelter Tax Relief

Welcome relief may be the best way to describe the reactions of many to two significant announcements for the new housing market made by Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon on February 17, 2012. BCREA thanks the BC government for these measures, which respond directly to concerns expressed for the past two years.

Specifically, effective April 1, 2012, the government will substantially increase the BC Harmonized Sales Tax rebate threshold for new homes purchased as primary residences to $850,000 (from $525,000), and create a grant of up to $42,500 for newly-constructed secondary homes where no grant has existed before. The temporary BC First-Time New Home Buyers’ bonus announced in the budget on February 21 will also provide additional support for buyers who need it the most.

Overall, the benefit to buyers of new homes and people who work in the real estate sector is obvious. Perhaps less apparent is the fact that real estate sales generate significant additional spending and taxes, driving activity throughout the provincial economy.

According to a study conducted by Altus Group Economic Consulting, each BC home sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in 2009 generated nearly $60,000 in expenditures—well above the national figure. In 2011, nearly 78,000 homes were sold on the MLS® in BC, resulting in nearly $4.7 billion in additional economic activity.

Now that the rules for the transition back to a Provincial Sales Tax/Goods and Services Tax world have been published, and the transition date of April 1, 2013 set, buyers of new homes, REALTORS®, builders and developers around BC can get down to business and move forward.

BCREA looks forward to the release of additional information about the transition, and plans to make resources available through its website at www.bcrea.bc.ca.

More information

 Health, Safety and Peace of Mind: Properties Used in Drug Operations

Access to information is critical to British Columbians when choosing property to buy or rent, so they can make the best decisions for their families and businesses. Unfortunately, potential property buyers and renters—and the REALTORS® who assist them—currently have no consistent method of learning whether a building has been identified as having been used in drug operations, or whether it has been remediated to a standard that will ensure health and safety risks have been eradicated.

On April 22 and 23, BCREA and REALTORS® from 11 real estate boards around the province will meet with MLAs in Victoria to discuss the following recommendations that are designed to remove the stigma of properties used in drug production, ensure housing stock integrity and provide British Columbians with certainty and peace of mind when choosing properties to buy or rent.

  • Develop a centralized, consistent process for disclosure of property history information.
  • Develop a centralized, consistent process for remediation of buildings used in drug operations.
  • Implement these disclosure and remediation processes through existing BC provincial legislation.

During the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in September 2011, delegates representing more than 70 local governments participated in an informal survey conducted by BCREA:

  • nearly 90 per cent of respondents said knowing whether a property was used in drug operations was very important to them when choosing a place to live,
  • more than 90 per cent expressed support for a centralized, consistent process for disclosing property history information in BC, and
  • more than 80 per cent supported a centralized, consistent process for remediating buildings used in drug operations.
 Strata Regulation Changes

Potential homebuyers will have more information available to them as a result of changes made to the Strata Property Regulation in December 2011.

Depreciation reports are now required for stratas with five units or more, and strata corporations have until December 2013 to comply. A strata corporation can also waive the requirement by a 3/4 vote. A strata corporation's depreciation report estimates the life expectancy of major items and the ultimate cost of their repair or replacement.

The strata corporation must also keep any reports respecting the repair or maintenance of major items in the strata corporation, including engineers' reports, risk management reports, sanitation reports and reports respecting any items for which information is mandatory in a depreciation report.

Effective March 1, 2012, whenever a strata corporation issues an Information Certificate (Form B), the corporation must attach to it, among other things, the corporation's most recent depreciation report.
In addition, effective January 1, 2014 the Information Certificate (Form B) will change. At that point, the Form B will require a strata corporation to disclose if there is any parking stall or storage locker allocated to the strata lot and if so, whether the parking stall or storage locker is a separate strata lot, part of a strata lot, or part of the common property.

BCREA is pleased with these measures, and looks forward to regulations regarding audited financial statements and dispute resolution later this year.

More information

 Tracking Legislation

BCREA keeps an ear to the ground by monitoring legislative changes throughout the year. For brief overviews of changes related to the real estate sector, see the Provincial Legislation Update on BCREA’s website.
 Contact Us

What are your organization’s positions on the public policy issues addressed in this issue of Connections? Contact us at [email protected] with your comments about these issues, or to update BCREA on your organization’s successes. For more information about BCREA’s public policy positions, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca.

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