The Nanaimo and Area Housing Market, has been quite stable throughout the years. It has gone up with the national and provincial trends, but doesn’t seem to come down quite as fast and far as in other geographical regions of Canada. Experts feel that this is largely due to steady influx of retirees coming here to escape the harsh winters they have experienced in other areas of the country. They say you don’t have to shovel the rain! Once the market hits its threshold during a fast growth period, we can expect to see small adjustments to the prices rather than steep declines. Nanaimo and other parts of Vancouver Island are still regarded as one of the best priced real estate markets, especially taking into account the beauty of the ocean views and the rainforests that it has to offer.
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Safety is important for all REALTORS®. The nature of the job means you work outside of regular hours, at many different locations and often alone. The real estate profession has always been quick to adopt new technology to help with sales and client relations, so it's no surprise that technology's also being used to improve safety.
Apps designed for personal safety aren't new, but many recognize the unique nature of the real estate profession and specifically target REALTORS® as their audience. A few are even designed by BC REALTORS®, who know the risks of the profession first-hand.
These apps automate some of the best safety practices—like setting check-in times with family and friends, making your location known and having the police on speed-dial. Some apps even offer special devices that serve as panic buttons for emergencies.
Other REALTOR® safety apps argue that this "after-the-fact" approach isn't good enough, and opt for a more preventative approach by using a mutually-beneficial buddy system, where monthly subscribers make themselves available to each other for hosting open houses or meeting clients.
If you haven't put much thought into your safety, these apps can streamline the process. A wide variety of REALTOR® safety apps are available through all smartphone app stores, but ultimately you're responsible for choosing the one that's right for you. It's hard to put a price on safety and, while the prices for these apps vary from one-time purchases to monthly rates, the least you can do is make sure you have a contingency plan in place for emergencies.
More information from the Canadian Real Estate Association:
The federal government plans to legalize non-medical cannabis by July 2018. In response, provincial and territorial governments are now considering how they’ll manage their responsibilities.
The BC government’s Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat is consulting with the public, with a deadline for feedback of November 1. One of the top issues identified by the Secretariat is personal cultivation.
BCREA’s response urges the government to create a framework to deal with properties used in drug production. When a property has been involved in producing drugs, people can be exposed to serious health and safety risks resulting from mould, chemicals and electrical fires. These properties also often become stigmatized, which can result in financing and insurance challenges.
BC currently has no provincial standards for remediating and certifying properties that have been used to produce drugs. There’s also no consistency for learning about a property’s history of drug production.
BCREA recommends that the government develop a centralized, consistent process for remediation of buildings used in drug operations. Specific to the government’s consultation, BCREA recommends that personal cultivation take place outside, and that a registry be created that’s tied to the property, rather than the individual.
Read BCREA’s submission and learn more about BCREA’s recommendations here.
To read the government’s discussion paper for this consultation, and to give your feedback, click here.
A home is an important part of the enviable quality of life many British Columbians seek. REALTORS® hear this every day from their clients all around the province.
BCREA’s pleased that the new provincial government has identified housing affordability as an important concern, and the Association offers recommendations to ensure British Columbians have access to safe and appropriate housing options.
BCREA’s five-pillar approach includes timely recommendations to:
- adjust the Property Transfer Tax,
- assist consumers with housing costs,
- encourage the creation of more rental housing,
- densify urban areas, and
- promote best practices among local governments.
The Association advocates for these recommendations with all elected officials, including through the 2018 Budget Consultations.
On September 6, the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate announced draft changes to the Rules under the Real Estate Services Act. Stakeholders and the public have 30 days to respond, and the final rule changes will be released after the October 6 consultation deadline.
The most significant proposed change is a ban on limited dual agency, where a licensee represents more than one party in a real estate transaction. The only exemption to this ban is for underserved, remote communities with few licensees. The draft rules also include new measures for disclosing remuneration and other information to clients.
BCREA’s position and actions on the draft rules
BCREA welcomes the enhanced disclosure proposals, but is concerned that a ban on limited dual agency would negatively impact consumers. If a consumer can’t work with a REALTOR® they know and trust, they may choose to have no representation at all, leaving them at greater risk.
BCREA is meeting with the Office of the Superintendent, the Real Estate Council of BC and the Ministry of Finance to discuss the impacts of the draft rules. We’re also working with legal experts, the real estate boards and licensees to better understand the possible impacts and prepare our submission to the government’s consultation. With the information available now, BCREA intends to advocate for exemptions for commercial transactions and long-standing client relationships, as well as a longer implementation period, to allow enough time to fully educate REALTORS® and consumers. We will submit our response before October 6, and provide more information as it becomes available.
BCREA has also compiled a list of frequently asked questions with the information we know so far.
Visit our website for more information on BCREA’s position.
The consultation: actions for REALTORS® and consumers
In the meantime, licensees are asked to complete the Office of the Superintendent’s survey on the draft rules, which can be found on their website. The survey is open until October 6.
After the rules are finalized
It’s not yet clear exactly when the Office of the Superintendent will finalize the rules. All we know right now is that the expected implementation date is January 15, 2018.
Shortly after the final rules are released, BCREA will communicate with member boards and REALTORS® to explain and contextualize the new rules. At the same time, BCREA will update all course content (including Legal Update and other relevant PDP courses), so learners will receive the most up-to-date information. Finally, we will amend our standard forms, as necessary, so REALTORS® will have accurate tools for their day-to-day work.
The federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is considering changing residential mortgage insurance underwriting practices. One of these changes would require a qualifying stress test for all uninsured mortgages, which could negatively impact housing affordability.
Homeownership is an important achievement for many Canadian families. Requiring all uninsured mortgages to have to qualify for a higher mortgage rate than can be negotiated between borrowers and lenders may put homeownership out of reach in some markets. This may particularly impact first-time buyers who often face additional struggles securing financing.
Plus, the housing market is still adjusting to recent changes. Over the past eight years, the federal government has implemented seven rounds of measures to tighten mortgage lending rules. The most recent were regulations affecting mortgage lending introduced last fall, which added to housing market uncertainty among buyers and sellers. Also, the Bank of Canada increased its prime rate by 25 basis points in July 2017, and many economists predict the rate will rise again in October. These changes compound the previous seven housing policy measures.
Making more changes now could imbalance local markets across the country and has the potential to negatively impact the Canadian economy. Particularly in British Columbia, where homebuyers face the highest provincial Property Transfer Tax in the country, any tightening of underwriting policies can put homeownership out of reach.
BCREA encourages the government not to make fundamental changes to the national housing finance system at a time of rising interest rates. This recommendation is echoed by the Canadian Real Estate Association, as well as the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
The government’s public consultation period on this proposal closes August 17, 2017. For more information on the consultation and to make a submission, visit the government's website.
Read BCREA’s full submission here.
This submission is part of BCREA’s ongoing advocacy work to ensure REALTORS® voices are heard by governments and that housing affordability is protected.
The Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate could soon propose a ban on limited dual agency. Limited dual agency occurs when a real estate licensee acts in a limited capacity for both the buyer and the seller. This ban was recommended in June 2016 by the Independent Advisory Group, which examined real estate practice.
For more than a year, BCREA, real estate boards and REALTORS® have worked hard to explain the potential negative consequences of a complete ban.
This comes down to the consumer’s right to choose. If the government completely bans limited dual agency, it’s saying that consumers aren’t capable of making their own decisions. Such a ban will prevent people from working with professionals they know and trust, and with professionals who have knowledge about specific types of real estate (like islands or resort properties) or specific areas of the province.
Shouldn’t people who buy and sell real estate—who are already making large, important decisions—be able to choose for themselves who can represent their interests?
To be clear, BCREA supports strong consumer protection and high standards of professional practice, and the vast majority of BC REALTORS® walk that walk every day. REALTORS®️ believe consumer protection is paramount. With full disclosure and independent professional advice, consumers can make informed choices in choosing their REALTORS®.
For BCREA’s response to the IAG report, click here.
On July 18, 2017, Premier John Horgan and his cabinet were sworn in to the provincial legislature.
A few weeks ago, BCREA recommended a dedicated Ministry of Housing. Since housing is currently such a critical issue in British Columbia, a ministry devoted solely to housing would be best equipped to tackle complex housing challenges in an efficient, coordinated and effective manner.
The new government chose instead to create a Ministry for Municipal Affairs and Housing. While this cabinet decision doesn’t fulfill BCREA’s recommendation, the portfolio does have more prominence that in the last government. We look forward to working with the Honourable Selina Robinson on all our housing affordability recommendations.
BCREA also recommended that the new government retain a Ministry, or Ministry of State, for Emergency Preparedness. The government has retained a portfolio for emergency management, naming Jennifer Rice as Parliamentary Secretary. BCREA will continue to advocate for our emergency management and flood protection recommendations, including the advancement of floodplain mapping across BC.
Finance is another important ministry for BCREA, because it controls taxation and the legislation under which BC REALTORS® are licensed. The Honourable Carole James is the new Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, and she brings considerable experience and knowledge to the role.
Contract of Purchase and Sale – Residential
As of March 30, a buyers' citizenship/residency disclosure question has been added to the residential Contract of Purchase and Sale (CPS) to provide REALTORS® and sellers with information relevant to determining if the buyers are obligated to pay the additional 15 per cent Property Transfer Tax (PTT) imposed on foreign nationals. Licensees should not give advice to their clients on how to complete this declaration, nor on how to interpret any declaration made by the other party to the transaction. However, as a best practice, licensees should recommend that their clients seek legal or accounting advice with respect to tax issues. A reminder to this effect now also appears on the "Information About This Contract" sheet appended to the CPS.
The residency disclosure on the CPS was added specifically for individuals and is limited to individuals due to the nature of the test for determining whether they are required to pay the additional PTT. Since the test to determine if the additional PTT is applicable to non-individual or corporate buyers is more complicated, only individual buyers were included on the CPS. Accordingly, non-individual or corporate buyers should not complete this section and should be advised to seek tax advice to determine if the additional PTT is payable in their situations.
Contract of Purchase and Sale – Commercial
On April 20, the commercial CPS was updated on WEBForms® with the minor edit of swapping clauses 41 and 42 on page 7 for correct referencing of those clauses on page 3, section 12 related to schedules.
Amendment of Buyer's Agency Exclusive
On June 1, the Amendment of Buyer's Agency Exclusive form will be updated on WEBForms® for improved consistency with other provincial amendment forms. The document will include the addition of a buyers' line at the top of the page and a brokerage approval line at the bottom of the page. Reference to the Exclusive Buyer's Agency Contract will also be replaced with Buyer's Agency Exclusive Contract as the current title of that corresponding contract.
REALTORS®: For more information on these updates, please login into REALTOR®link.
In BC, many people get their daily water from an individual or shared well.
In most cases, the personal use of this water doesn’t require a groundwater licence, but licenses are needed when wells are shared by multiple properties.
The Water Sustainability Act stipulates that well owners who use water for domestic purposes don’t have to pay provincial water fees and rentals. “Domestic purposes” covers multiple users on one piece of land, excluding multi-family apartment buildings, and includes water uses such as drinking and food preparation.
However, if multiple parcels of land share a well, a water licence is required by the owner of the parcel of land where the well is located.
A licence is required regardless of whether payment is being made for the use or transport of the water.
To apply for a water licence, the well owner must contact their regional FrontCounter BC office. More information, including the application form, is available here.
Until December 31, 2017, existing groundwater well users (those who used wells prior to February 29, 2016) will have their application fee waived. Fees and rental rates still apply for the water used. For more about water rental and application fees, click here.
In addition, all domestic groundwater users are encouraged to register their wells. Registration creates a record of water use and ensures that their use is considered by decision makers dealing with other licence applications. Property owners can contact their regional FrontCounter BC office to determine if their well is already registered. If it is not, they can complete a well registration form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get the form here.
Three weeks after the provincial election, we now know that the BC NDP and Green parties intend to work together in a minority government. On May 30, the parties released their joint agreement, outlining the foundations of their alliance and the key policy issues they intend to work on.
What does this new political landscape mean for real estate in BC?
Before we get to a new government, Premier Clark will call the legislature together for a confidence vote (in which all MLAs will vote on whether they support the Liberal government continuing), probably before the end of June, and she fully expects to lose this vote. At that point, the Lieutenant Governor will be able to ask the NDP and Green parties to form government. It’s not yet known when that new government would call the next legislative session or deliver their proposed budget.
The joint agreement signed by the NDP and Green parties reiterates an election promise both made to take action on real estate speculation and fraud. BCREA continues to advocate for a fair and balanced approach to regulating real estate practice, highlighting the work REALTORS® and real estate boards have already done on this file.
The joint agreement also emphasizes increasing the supply of affordable housing. BCREA has made several recommendations on key ways to increase supply, including gently densifying urban areas and ensuring local governments levy appropriate fees for developers (more information: www.bchousingaffordability.ca).
Although not mentioned in the joint agreement, BCREA expects that the implementation of recommendations made by the Independent Advisory Group in 2016 will continue, even if the government changes. BCREA continues to work with the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and the Real Estate Council of BC to ensure changes are made in ways that avoid unintended negative consequences for real estate professionals and consumers.
BCREA will continue to monitor this changing political environment, seek opportunities to advocate with the incoming MLAs and update real estate boards and stakeholders on any developments. For more information on BCREA’s approach to government relations and advocacy, click here.