March 2014
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Connections (March 2014)
Connections: Advocacy News from the British Columbia Real Estate Association – March 2014 
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  BC Budget Helps First-Time Buyers

In February, BCREA welcomed the provincial government’s assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Effective February 19, 2014, the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) exemption threshold under the First Time Home Buyers’ Program increased to $475,000 from $425,000. The government estimates that about 1,700 first-time buyers will benefit this year, saving an average of $4,000 (and up to $7,500).

This news demonstrates the government’s recognition of the housing affordability challenges in BC. It also aligns well with the concerns of REALTORS®, who consistently rate the PTT as their top public policy priority.

The PTT applies to real estate transactions at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remaining fair market value. BCREA has lobbied against the PTT since it was introduced in 1987. More information about BCREA’s public policy position is available at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/shelter-taxes.

 Floodplain Maps Are Critical

BC has the opportunity to take steps now to minimize damage from future floods. That’s a key message REALTORS® from around the province will deliver to Members of the Legislative Assembly during BCREA’s annual lobbying conference, Government Liaison Days, April 27-29.

BCREA has been concerned about issues related to flooding since 2006, and outdated floodplain maps since 2011. A floodplain map is an important tool for community planning, because it shows areas subject to high flood hazard. This information is used in decisions about land use planning, emergency response management and capital investments.

Since 2003-2004, local governments in BC have carried most of the responsibility for flood management, but their expertise and resources vary widely. The result is that most existing floodplain maps are out of date, which puts communities at risk. This is a classic Quality of Life issue, requiring balance among concerns for the economy, environment, safety and the rights of private property owners.

BCREA urges the provincial government to: 

  1. Take the lead, working with local and federal governments, to ensure floodplain maps are updated and remain current.
  2. Develop guidelines and specifications for the development of floodplain maps.
  3. Ensure senior government funding programs for flood mitigation cover technical studies, such as floodplain maps.

BCREA CEO Robert Laing will also discuss floodplain maps during the BC Land Summit, May 14-16. For more information about this unique event, which offers professionals from diverse land-related fields the opportunity to learn, share ideas, collaborate and network, visit www.bclandsummit.com.

 Legislative Session So Far . . .

This is proving to be a very fruitful session of the legislature, with many bills impacting the real estate sector. Here’s a very brief description of some of the initiatives BCREA’s watching:

  • Water Sustainability Act – Bill 18 offers the long-awaited modernization of the Water Act, which will also apply to groundwater. BCREA has supported modernization of the Water Act and participated in several consultations in recent years.
  • Strata properties – Amendments to the Strata Property Act have been introduced in Bill 12. The changes will clarify responsibilities for special assessments during sales transactions, confirm that paying for and accruing funds to pay for a depreciation report is an operating fund expense and can be approved by a majority vote and make it easier for strata corporations to pay for repairs recommended by a depreciation report by reducing approval for contingency reserve fund expenditures from three-quarters to majority.
  • Real Estate Development Marketing Act – Amendments proposed in Bill 17 clarify the scope of purchasers' remedies and certainty to the enforceability of purchasers' contracts. The changes are designed to increase industry efficiency and provide purchasers with a more readable disclosure statement.
  • Local Government Act, Vancouver Charter – Bill 17 also proposes amendments that remove unnecessary ministerial approvals for land use planning and development decisions, allow modern land use policies and practices to replace outdated land use contracts and protect developers from increases in development cost charges.
  • Agricultural Land Commission – As a result of the Core Review, Bill 24 proposes several changes to the ALC, including a requirement for local governments to engage with the ALC earlier in land use planning processes. Changes also involve the creation of two zones: in zone 1 (Island, South Coast and Okanagan), where land is in greater demand, the current approach to ALC decisions will continue; in zone 2 (Interior, Kootenay and North), where growing seasons are shorter and there are lower-value crops, the ALC will have more flexibility to consider non-agricultural home-based businesses.

BCREA keeps its ear to the ground on bills introduced in the legislature and regulatory changes, and regularly reports the results online at www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/about-government-relations/real-estate-legislation.

 Contact Us

Where do you stand on the public policy issues addressed in this issue of Connections? Contact BCREA at [email protected] with your comments about these issues, or to provide an update on your organization’s successes.

For more information about BCREA’s public policy positions, visit www.bcrea.bc.ca.

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

British Columbia Real Estate Association
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PO Box 10123, Pacific Centre
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1C6
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Real estate boards, real estate associations and REALTORS® may reprint this content, provided that credit is given to BCREA by including the following statement: "Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission."
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