Strong Housing Demand Expected Through 2016
The BCREA Economics Department forecasts that the number of homes changing hands on the Multiple Listing Service® will exceed 100,000 in 2015. That’s the third strongest unit sales figure on record and marks the first time since 2007 that BC home sales will exceed the ten-year average.
While sales are expected to decrease somewhat in 2016, the forecast is still strong with an expectation of 93,700 homes. BCREA expects the average MLS® price to reach $626,100 in 2015 and $639,700 in 2016.
All of this bodes well for provincial government coffers. In his Second Quarterly Report in late November, Minister of Finance Mike de Jong reported that revenues from the Property Transfer Tax are expected to be nearly $1.3 billion in the current fiscal year—$350 million higher than the original budget figure in February.
BCREA has been following Minister de Jong’s remarks about the PTT with interest, and looks forward to the 2016 provincial budget, which just might include good news for many homebuyers. The Association’s concerns with the tax have been on record since 1987, and BCREA recently made the following recommendations:
- Increase the 1% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000, with 2% applying to the remainder of the fair market value.
- Index the 1% PTT threshold of $525,000 using the MLS® Home Price Index, and make adjustments annually.
Winding Up Stratas
Strata property legislation in BC dates back to 1966. Clearly, some of those properties are nearing the end of their lives, and the owners are facing serious decisions about the future of their buildings. In the BC legislature this fall, amendments to the Strata Property Act were passed relating to the termination of strata corporations.
Currently, when a building is at the end of its life cycle, or owners want to sell for redevelopment, all eligible voters must approve. When the amendments are implemented, that threshold will be 80 per cent, which is an approach taken by several other jurisdictions in Canada and elsewhere. Court confirmation will be required for strata corporations with five or more strata lots; this measure will help protect the rights of dissenting owners.
These changes are consistent with recommendations made by the BC Law Institute in February 2015, with which BCREA agreed. More information about the BC Law Institute project to review several aspects of strata property law is available at www.bcli.org.
Old Floodplain Maps Put British Columbians at Risk
Only 21 per cent of BC communities and First Nations have access to a floodplain map that’s ten years old or less, according to the BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report, published in October by BCREA. Nearly 31 per cent reported they have no access to floodplain maps at all.
Floodplain maps support decision making by showing risks to existing and proposed developments and infrastructure, and help support resilient growth and emergency planning. To be effective, though, the maps must be updated regularly to reflect changes in land development, the environment and climate.
The BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report identifies the BC floodplain maps created or updated in the last ten years. It also describes the public availability of maps, availability of supporting data, and challenges and opportunities communities have experienced with floodplain mapping projects.
The report results suggest that better information about floodplain maps, guidelines for their development, data standardization, and stronger funding mechanisms will all improve the state of floodplain mapping in BC. Better floodplain maps will make communities, First Nations and the entire province more resilient.
Visit www.bcrea.bc.ca/docs/government-relations/2015floodplainmapinventory.pdf to read the full report.
The BC Floodplain Map Inventory Report is the most recent completed project coming out of BCREA’s Floodplain Maps Action Plan, which was developed in 2013. For other resources created as part of that initiative, including the following, follow this link www.bcrea.bc.ca/government-relations/flood-protection:
- Floodplain Mapping Funding Guidebook for BC Local Governments
- Floodplain Mapping Backgrounder
- Floodplain Maps Action Plan
On November 26, the Insurance Bureau of Canada officially called for a national flood program to help protect Canadians. IBC is clear that such a program needs to go beyond insurance, to include new infrastructure, local control measures, an information campaign and comprehensive research. News release: www.ibc.ca/bc/resources/media-centre/media-releases/ibc-steps-up-to-contribute-to-a-national-flood-program.