Housing Affordability

Jul 24, 2019

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The residential real estate market is a continuum, with social housing on one end and luxury housing on the other. Rental housing and market housing affordability are important components that help keep the continuum operating smoothly, ensuring appropriate housing options for all and matching supply with demand.

BCREA recommends that governments:

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.
  • Expand the exemption for the additional 20 per cent foreign buyers' PTT to include everyone with a work permit in BC, and do not increase this tax or expand it beyond its current geographical scope.
  • Increase the First-Time Home Buyers' Program Property Transfer Tax (PTT) exemption threshold to $750,000 from $500,000.
  • Use the Housing Priority Initiatives Fund to increase the 2% PTT threshold to $525,000 from $200,000.
  • Index the following PTT thresholds using the Consumer Price Index, and make adjustments annually:
    • 2% and 3% thresholds,
    • First-Time Home Buyers' Program exemption threshold, and
    • Newly Built Home Exemption threshold.

Provide direct assistance to homebuyers, homeowners and renters (recommendations for the federal government)

  • 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.
  • Create more green incentives for homeowners to help contribute to Canada's climate change goals.

Make evidence-based policy decisions

  • Respecting privacy legislation and practice, publish buyers' residency data and government's analysis of that data.

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.

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.

Ensure the Residential Tenancy Act is effective and balances the rights of landlords and tenants.

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