With property assessments showing increases as high as 50 per cent in urban areas of B.C., the provincial government is promoting its interest-free loan program for first-time home buyers as existing home-owners brace for higher property tax bills.
Property assessment notices are being mailed out and values posted at the B.C. Assessment website this week, based on the agency’s mid-2016 real estate market surveys. Preliminary data showed increases of 30 to 50 per cent for houses and condos in Metro Vancouver, 10 to 40 per cent for Greater Victoria and five to 30 per cent in the Central Okanagan.
Rising values mean fewer properties qualifying for the provincial homeowner’s grant. Homes valued at more than $1.2 million are ineligible, and Metro Vancouver politicians have repeatedly called on the province to create a regional system for grant eligibility to reflect higher values in their region.
The province’s latest move is the creation of a second-mortgage fund for first-time buyers, called the B.C. HOME Partnership. It starts taking applications on Jan. 16, with loans up to five per cent of the purchase price to a maximum of $37,500, interest free for five years for qualified buyers.
Housing Minister Rich Coleman said the program is designed to help renters as well as first-time buyers, as more people move out of a tight rental market into their own homes. The province estimates 42,000 households are eligible to take advantage of the interest-free loans.