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Restrictions usher in a more disciplined environment.
The third quarter of 2016 saw a series of moves by the different levels of government adding restrictions to residential property transactions, and even encroaching on the rights of property owners.
The changes began with the B.C. government changing regulations on real estate contract assignments – triggered by unethical use of a legal process. This was followed in August by the B.C. government’s 15% tax on foreign residential home buyers in Metro Vancouver.
In September, the federal government moved to tighten insurance on mortgages for buyers who have low down payments. These new mortgage rules include increasing the qualification threshold, reducing the amortization period, and setting a credit score of at least 600.
Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver moved to impose a tax on empty homes and has announced plans to restrict short-term rentals. They may even prohibit short-term rentals that are not in private residences.
The federal government has made it a requirement that private home sales be reported to the Canada Revenue Agency, in an effort to scrutinize transactions where sellers may try to falsely claim a capital gains tax exemption on the sale of a primary residence.
This November, Ottawa will also begin consultation with lenders, such as Canada’s major banks, on sharing the risk of mortgage insurance. This may lead to tighter qualifications for low-equity and high-ratio homebuyers.
We were already starting to see the market slowing from its frenzy of upwards activity in the first half of 2016. The governments’ announcements created enough uncertainty in the market that buyers appear to have decided to take a step back to assess their decisions. It is unlikely we will see as many multiple-bid offers that characterized the past year in most of Metro Vancouver.
Yet, as homebuyers and sellers will soon discover, the fundamentals of the real estate market in Metro Vancouver remains solid: thousands of people are moving in every year from across Canada and around the world; there is a shortage of detached houses and townhouses and demand for condominiums will increase; mortgage rates remain at historic levels; the rental vacancy rate is near zero.
What has changed is that it is now paramount that sellers and buyers work with a proven, professional real estate agency that has been successful through decades of market cycles. Real estate peers honoured Faith Wilson Group this year with a lifetime achievement award for service, performance and ethics. This is now a more disciplined, demanding environment and we promise to continue to ensure that you will have all of the information that you require to make fully informed buying and selling decisions.
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