15% tax – macdonald realty
Foreign buyers not swayed by 15-per-cent housing tax, data show | The Globe and Mail

Foreign buyers not swayed by 15-per-cent housing tax, data show | The Globe and Mail

Condos in the Gilmore area of Burnaby are seen in the distance behind houses in east Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday September 20, 2015.

The proportion of foreign buyers in the Vancouver region is at its highest level since the province’s 15-per-cent tax on these purchasers came into effect a year ago, with experts and industry insiders saying international interest is strong in the surging condo market and the suburbs of Burnaby, Richmond and Surrey.

Provincial government data released on Tuesday show foreign buyers accounted for 5 per cent of homes bought in Metro Vancouver in September, with Richmond and Burnaby showing the highest levels, at 10.8 per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively. In Surrey, the city in the region where the most properties changed hands, the rate of foreign buyers more than tripled from August to September – jumping from 1.7 per cent to 5.9 per cent.

Although it is too early to say whether the September data represent a new baseline for the level of foreign buyers in the region, industry insiders and academics say these numbers are likely related to the region’s surging condo prices, which are driving Greater Vancouver’s real estate market in the wake of slowing sales in the once-mighty segment of detached houses.

(more…)

New Exemptions to the 15% Property Transfer Tax

New Exemptions to the 15% Property Transfer Tax

EXEMPTION FROM THE 15% TAX

The original announcement that work permit holders would be exempt from the 15% additional property transfer tax was made on January 29, 2017.

On March 17, Premier Christy Clark finally introduced the details of the new exemption to the 15% property transfer tax applied to certain “foreign nationals” who purchase residential properties in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.  As we expected the devil is in the details.  There are a number of categories of work permit holders.  Just as we expected, it turns out that not all holders of work permits will be treated equally.  Most work permit holders will still have to pay the 15% tax.

The exemption from the tax will only apply to Provincial Nominees under the B.C. provincial nominee program (“PNP”).  They have to be “nominated” by B.C. so that other holders of work permits such as international students, executive transferees, or individuals nominated by other provinces will not qualify for the exemption.  Moreover:

  • The exemption only applies to provincial nominees who treat the property as a principal residence;
  • The exemption may be claimed only once. It the provincial nominee buys another GVRD property he must pay the 15% tax;
  • Evidence of provincial nominee status has to be provided at the time the documents are filed at the Land Title Office.

REFUNDS OF THE 15% TAX FOR CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS

The new rules also provide that the following buyers who have already paid the tax will be entitled to refunds:

  • Foreign nationals who held B.C. PNP certificates or were confirmed as provincial nominees and purchased GVRD residential property between August 2, 2016, and March 17, 2017;
  • Individuals who became permanent residents or Canadian citizens within one year of the date the property transfer was registered in the Land Title Office

Refunds for permanent residents and citizens can only be claimed:

  • in respect of only one property;
  • where the property has been used as a principal residence;
  • where the owner moved into the residence within 92 days of property registration; and
  • continued to live in the property for one full year after the date the property transfer was registered.

Clearly most work permit holders are still subject to the 15% tax.  It seems that the exemptions are designed primarily to accommodate the PNP holders working in B.C.’s growing high technology industry, the fear being that the high cost of housing may be an impediment to economic growth in this critically important sector.

Meanwhile, work permit “status” issues can be somewhat complex.  Foreign national buyers holding work permits and their realtor advisors who are uncertain about whether an exemption would apply should consider consulting their immigration and conveyancing lawyers before entering into a binding agreement to purchase GVRD residential property.


Written by Peter Scarrow, former immigration lawyer, currently is the Director of Asian Business at Macdonald Real Estate Group.

As Vancouver’s housing market cools, commercial property sales soar | The Globe and Mail

As Vancouver’s housing market cools, commercial property sales soar | The Globe and Mail

Claire Wyrostok, owner of popular Vancouver vegetarian restaurant Black Lodge, wonders how long it will be until Vancouver’s hot real estate market pushes her out of business. In the four years that Ms. Wyrostok has been at her current location, on Kingsway just off Fraser Street, many of the buildings in her strip have been sold and property values have more than doubled. Since Ms. Wyrostok’s three-year lease came up for renewal in March, she says the landlord is allowing her to rent only month to month.

“Every day I don’t know if I am going to get a notice with 30 days to get out,” Ms. Wyrostok says. “Our business is done,” she adds. “You develop a business to make it bigger, but we can’t expand, and we can’t sell our business. Our business has no value on paper, because the asset is the lease.”

While the residential real estate market in Vancouver is cooling, sales of commercial properties in the region have skyrocketed. The Re/Max Commercial Investor Report says there was a 94-per-cent increase in the total dollar value of Lower Mainland sales in the first half of 2016 compared with the first half of 2015, to $7.1 billion from $3.7 billion. The number of commercial property sales in the first half of 2016 was 1,464, compared with 1,138 in the same period last year.

And some, including Tony Letvinchuk, managing director for Macdonald Commercial Real Estate Services, believe that the foreign-buyer tax on residential purchases will play a role in driving the market, which is generally perceived as a balanced mix of local and foreign buyers.

“There’s no question that the additional 15-per-cent property purchase tax will motivate foreign entities – being those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – to consider purchasing commercial properties located in Greater Vancouver, where such transaction tax does not apply,” he says.

(more…)

Condos in Downtown Vancouver

Condos in Downtown Vancouver

The residential areas of Downtown Vancouver comprise 3 main areas:

  1. Yaletown – which borders the north side of False Creek and much of it originally was developed by Concord Pacific after the Expo 86 World’s Fair;
  2. Coal Harbour – which is the strip of newly developed condos north of West Georgia Street and West of Burrard Street; and
  3. The West End – which comprises the downtown core and west of Burrard Street.

It seems that the new 15% tax on “foreign” buyers has had very little impact on this market, especially with condos where the asking price is under $2 million.  There are many reasons for this:

  • Only 1-5% of the buyers in this segment traditionally have been “foreign”;
  • More and more “empty nesters” from the West Side of Vancouver sell their homes after their children have moved out and downsize by moving downtown and retire on the capital gains earned by selling their detached homes;
  • The buyers are from all backgrounds: local retired people, young singles and married couples (usually with no children or with small families), Chinese immigrants, Koreans, Iranians, Americans, Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners, etc. In other words there is strong demand from all segments of the market;
  • There seems to be increasing interest in this area from “foreigners” from the USA, typically young hi-tech professionals from San Francisco and San Jose, and older couples from Seattle and Los Angeles, all of them attracted by the diversity, safety, cuisine, scenery and recreational opportunities downtown Vancouver has to offer.
  • Being close to the Central Business District is extremely convenient for the tens of thousands of professionals of all kinds who work downtown.

What’s so special about the Downtown core of Vancouver?  Well, it depends on the specific neighbourhood:

(more…)

New 15% Property Transfer Tax

New 15% Property Transfer Tax

The new 15% property purchase tax (the “PTT”) explained.

WHAT IS THE NEW TAX?

It is a property transfer tax of 15% payable by “foreign” buyers IN ADDITION TO the regular property transfer tax at the time a property transfer for residential property is registered in the land title office for properties located in “The Greater Vancouver Regional District” (the “GVRD”).  This includes places like Surrey, Richmond, Delta, West Vancouver, Coquitlam, etc. but not Squamish, Whistler, Abbotsford, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, etc.

So if a foreign buyer buys a $7 million residential property in West Vancouver the total property purchase tax would be:

Platform Dashboard

WHO HAS TO PAY?

The tax has to be paid by “foreign entities”.  That means foreign citizens, foreign companies and taxable trustees.  Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents do not have to pay.  Foreign corporations include companies set up outside Canada and Canadian companies that are controlled by foreign persons or by foreign companies.

WHAT SORT OF TRANSACTIONS ARE SUBJECT TO THIS TAX?

The tax is payable in respect of residential properties in the GVRD purchased by foreign buyers on or after August 2, 2016 at the time the transfer is registered in the land title office.  It is payable even when the contract was finalized before August 2, 2016 and the parties unaware there would be a new tax.

ARE THERE ANY LOOPHOLES?

Not many.  Non-residential property is not subject to the extra tax nor are properties outside the GVRD.   Real estate investment trusts and mutual fund trusts are not subject to the extra tax.  Penalties of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for corporations apply to anyone who participates in illegal tax avoidance.  Presumably this includes lawyers, accountants and realtors who assist in illegal tax avoidance.


Written by Peter Scarrow, former immigration lawyer, currently is the Director of Asian Business at Macdonald Real Estate Group.