The May 9th provincial election is a perfect opportunity to address some of the critical housing issues in B.C., according to the BCREA publication, The Bulletin. The issue of housing affordability has been at the forefront of the discussions of many British Columbians, especially when it comes to lower-income demographics such as millennials and seniors, so the BCREA expects the topic to be discussed at length on the campaign trails of all major political parties over the next couple of months.
The best way that this issue can be addressed is by actively seeking the input of the public when it comes to potential solutions. The BCREA is a valuable contributor to the discussion on such solutions, believing strongly that "appropriate housing options should be accessible to everyone across the housing spectrum". In support of this belief, the Association has published recommendations for the BC government that fall under 6 major themes:
Theme 1: Ensure the Property Transfer Tax accurately reflects the dynamic nature of the real estate market.
- For any future changes to the PTT, ensure that real estate transactions already underway are exempt.
- Increase the First-Time Home Buyers’ Program Property Transfer Tax (PTT) exemption threshold to $750,000 from $500,000.
- Use the new Housing Priority Initiatives Fund to increase the 2% PTT threshold to $525,000 from $200,000.
- Index the following PTT thresholds using the MLS® Home Price Index, and make adjustments annually:
- 2% and 3% thresholds,
- First-Time Home Buyers' Program exemption threshold, and
- Newly Built Home Exemption threshold.
Theme 2: Provide direct assistance to home-buyers, homeowners, and renters.
- Modernize and extend eligibility for the Home Buyers' Plan to Canadians who relocate to secure employment, accommodate an elderly family member in the family home, become widowed, or suffer marital breakdown.
- Make home ownership affordable by indexing, to the Consumer Price Index, the withdrawal limit of the Home Buyers' Plan in $2,500 increments, a limit that has not increased with inflation since 2009.
- Provide additional support for off-reserve housing to improve housing outcomes for Indigenous families.
- Create more green incentives for homeowners to help contribute to Canada's climate change goals.
Theme 3: Encourage the creation of rental housing.
Theme 4: Make evidence-based policy decisions.
- Respecting privacy legislation and practice, publish buyers' residency data and government's analysis of that data.
Theme 5: Encourage greater density in urban areas.
- Increase the supply of affordable, market, ground-oriented, family (three-bedroom) homes along transit corridors in lower density neighbourhoods using PTT revenue. For example, the province could provide financial incentives to municipalities fast tracking medium-density projects—townhomes, co-housing and cooperatives—to help defray the costs of accelerated planning and rezoning.
- Increase the supply of smaller, market homes in neighbourhoods using PTT revenue to create gentle density in low density neighbourhoods. For example, the province could provide financial incentives to municipalities to permit the sale of laneway homes and the stratification of secondary suites, where the home permits it. Funds could be used to update zoning and to create a system for stratifying suites.
- Counter “Not-in-My-Backyard” opposition to development through public education via a “new neighbours” campaign to increase acceptance of new developments geared to first-time homebuyers and purpose-built rental developments.
Theme 6: Promote best practices among local governments.
- Ensure local governments levy development cost charges and community amenity contributions appropriate to the impact of development.
- Encourage improvements in the municipal development application process, such as reduced turnaround times for obtaining construction permits.
The BCREA has developed an "election plan" that will help them remain accountable to being proactive and participative throughout the election campaign, with a constant goal of acting as contributors to positive discussion around this issue AND as promoters of the Association and REALTORS as advocates for housing affordability. The Association will be contributing by sharing their recommendations with the public and the parties through official publications, website development, and traditional and social media platforms in hopes that this campaign well shed some light on the importance of the issue of market housing affordability in BC and spur the creation of some real solutions for renters, first-time buyers, and move-up buyers across the province.
No matter what happens on May 9th, our industry will continue to thrive as it always has. The Kamloops real estate market is on fire - and it's just going to get hotter and hotter as we move into the spring and summer months. Call us today to find out how you can benefit from these incredible market conditions!
In collaboration with Anna Langford