COSTS FOR BUYING A HOME
PROPERTY PURCHASE TAX
Applies to all property purchases in BC and is calculated at 1% of the first $200,000, 2% on the value of the property between $200,000 and $2 million, 3% on the value of the property between $2 to $3 million. If the property you are purchasing or the fair market value of the property is over $3 million, then any amount over this value will be taxed at 5%. The tax is payable to the Provincial Government when the property is completed and the sale is registered at the Land Title Office.
If you are a first time buyer, you may be exempt from paying the Property Purchase Tax if:
- You have never owned a principal residence anywhere in the world at any time in the past
- You are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
- You have resided in B.C. for at least one year immediately prior to your application to register the purchase
- The purchase price does not exceed $475,000. For homes between $475,000 and $500,000, a partial exemption is available
- You move into the property within 92 days of registration of the property at the land title office and live inside the property as your principal residence for at least one year
- Note that a pro-rata exemption could apply if the property exceeds 0.5 hectares or a portion of the property is not residential (i.e. commercial lofts) and the purchase price of entire property does not exceed the price limitations.
Be careful not to confuse the Property Transfer Tax with the Property Tax. The Property Transfer Tax is a one-time tax paid to the Provincial Government by purchasers of real estate. The Property Tax is the tax paid on an annual basis to the local City Authority/Municipality.
If you are a buyer that is or will be considered "Foreign Entity" or a "Taxable Trustee" as defined in the British Columbia Property Transfer Tax Act, then there could be an additional Property Transfer Tax of 20% of the fair market value of any residential property that is also payable on the completion date.
BRAND NEW HOUSING EXEMPTION
If you purchase a BRAND NEW home up to $750,000, you could be fully exempt from the Property Transfer Tax if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident buying the home and using it as your principal residence for a period of 1 year after the purchase. This can potentially save you up to $13,000 in taxes!
If you purchase a home between $750,000 to $800,000, you could be exempt for a pro-rated amount of the tax. You do not have to be a first-time buyer to qualify for this exemption and it does not matter how long you have lived in BC so you could be moving to BC to start a new job or just to start living in BC.
GOODS & SERVICES TAX (GST)
The GST is ONLY payable on the purchase of new construction or substanitally renovated residential homes and NOT on used resale residential properties. The rate is 5% on the purchase price less any applicable rebates.
If you plan on living inside the new home as your primary place of residence on a permanent basis, you could be eligible for the GST New Housing Rebate. This rebate is 36% of the GST payable if the purchase price of the property is up to $350,000. This works out to a maximum rebate of $3,600. If the purchase price of your property is between $350,000 and $450,000, then the maximum rebate of $3600 is prorated. This rebate does not apply to any homes over the purchase price of $450,000.
If you plan on renting out the new home, you could be eligible for a rebate called the GST New Residential Rental Rebate which is also 36% of the GST payable if the purchase price of the property is up to $350,000. If the purchase price is between $350,000 and $450,000, then the maximum rebate is prorated. No rebate is available if the purchase price of the new home is over $450,000.
If you are a foreign national, foreign corporation or taxable trustee, you must pay the additional property transfer tax of 20% on your proportionate share of a residential property transfer if the property is within specified areas of B.C.
The mortgage lender may also require written proof of fire insurance coverage (an Insurance Binder). Most insurance agents can charge a fee for an Insurance Binder, generally from $35 to $55.00.
If your purchase a single family home and the seller or the local City Authority or Municipality does not have a useable Survey Certificate available, then you may have to pay for the cost of obtaining one. The cost of a survey certificate can range form $363 to $500 including taxes for a typical property in the area of purchase and can be as high as $1000 if you are purchasing a double lot or an estate sized property.
You can use either a notary public or lawyer to help you for the purchase of a property. Legal costs do vary depending on whether or not you have a mortgage, the type of property that you are purchasing and if there is ample time allowed for the completion. When requesting a quote, you should ask that the quote include all fees including all disbursements (the cost of searches, registration fees, couriers, photocopies, faxes, land title agent's fees, etc.) and any taxes.
For strata properties, you may have to pay a Move-In Fee to the strata corporation which can range from $50-400.
ANNUAL PROPERTY TAXES
Property taxes are typically due on the 1st business day in July of each year. When you buy a property, you will be responsible for the property taxes starting on the Adjustment Date on the purchase contract which is usually within a few days of the completion date. This amount will be adjusted for on the Lawyer's Statement of Adjustments.
Annually, you could be be eligible to apply for one of the following home owner grants if you are a homeowner and occupy the entire or part of the property as your principal residence and are either a Canadian Citizen of permanent resident:
- A basic provincial home owner grant of up to $570 can be available to elegible homeowners under 65 years of age.
- You may qualify for the higher additional grant of $845 if an owner is over 65 years of age. Please note that either of these amounts can also be reduced on a prorated basis if the assessed value of the property is over the provincial threshold that changes from year to year.
CITY UTILITY BILLS
The local City Authority can also charge for utilities to a homewoner that can include water, sewer, recycling & garbage fees if they are not billed as part of your property taxes. These amounts can be collected on flat rate basis, separately metered for each property or collected as part of maintenance fees if you own a strata property.
When you buy a property, you will only be responsible for the utility costs starting on the Adjustment Date on the purchase contract which is usually within a few days of the completion date. This amount will be adjusted accordingly on the Lawyer's Statement of Adjustments.