First-time homebuyers will get a tax break, while speculators are being targeted in new housing initiatives unveiled in B.C.’s 2024 budget.

The tax programs come along with new money earmarked for the province’s BC Builds program intended to spur the construction of new rental housing.

The initiatives come with the NDP government claiming 78,000 homes have been “delivered or (are) underway” towards its 2017 election pledge to build 114,000 homes.

House-flipping tax unveiled

Starting in 2025, the province will implement a new “home-flipping tax” to target the profit made from selling a residential property within two years.

Sellers will see a 20 per cent tax on profit if they sell the property within the first year of purchase, with the rate declining to zero over the course of the second year. It will also apply to assignment contracts.

Exemptions will apply “for certain life circumstances” including separation, death, divorce and disability. The province has also pledged exemptions for sellers who “add to the housing supply or engage in construction and real estate development.”

Exemptions, and how they will be assessed and enforced, however, have not been fully fleshed out, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The tax is expected to bring in $43 million in 2025 during the first year it is fully in force.

A house flipping tax was one of B.C. Premier David Eby’s promises during his 2022 leadership campaign.


Property transfer tax exemptions


While the province is aiming a new tax at would-be speculators, it’s also unveiling a tax break for first-time homebuyers and rental housing developers.

As of April 1, 2024, the threshold for the exemption to the property transfer tax for first-time homebuyers is being lifted from properties costing half a million dollars to $835,000. Properties with a fair market value of under $500,000 will be completely tax-exempt.

The budget estimates the number of buyers eligible for exemptions will double, to about 14,500 people per year, with maximum savings of $8,000 on a purchase.

Newly built homes valued under $1.1 million will also see a property transfer tax exemption as of April 1, raising the threshold for the tax break from $750,000.

The province is also rolling out a basic property transfer tax exemption for purchases of new, qualifying purpose built rental buildings, aimed at encouraging new rental construction. The exemption will apply between 2025 and 2030.

The exemption covers non-stratified buildings held as rentals for at least 10 years, and including at least four apartments.

BC Builds

Along with the tax measures, the province is providing more clarity on the rollout of its BC Builds program.

The 2024 budget earmarks $198 million over the next three years for the initiative, which uses government-owned land and provincial financing to encourage rental construction.

Of that money, $50 million in operating funding and $14 million in capital funding is committed for 2024.

The program aims to cut project build times from years down to 12-18 months. All units will be means tested, and one-fifth of apartments will be held at 20 per cent below market rates.


Vancouver, BC – February 13, 2024. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 3,979 residential unit sales were recorded in Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) systems in January 2024, an increase of 29.4 per cent from January 2023. The average MLS® residential price in BC in January 2024 was up 10.5 per cent at $957,909 compared to an average price of $866,922, the low-point for average prices over the past two years. The total sales dollar volume was $3.8 billion, an increase of 42.9 per cent from the same time in the previous year. 

"Home sales are on a clear uptrend to start 2024," said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. "A sharp decline in fixed mortgage rates and expectations for future Bank of Canada rate cuts is driving sentiment in the market and bringing pent-up demand off the sidelines." 

The total number of active listings, though up year-over-year, remains relatively low by historical standards. New listings activity has shown signs of normalizing following a down year in 2023. A steady pace of new inventory will be crucial in keeping markets balanced as sales accelerate. 

BCREA is the provincial association for BC REALTORS®. As a champion for the real estate sector, BCREA advances REALTOR® professionalism and ensures the REALTOR® voice is heard for the benefit of consumers and communities, across BC. By working in collaboration with the province's real estate boards and association, our mission is to provide professional development opportunities, advocacy, economic and policy research, and standard forms so REALTORS® are trusted, respected, and proud of their profession. 

For detailed statistical information, contact your local real estate board. MLS® is a cooperative marketing system used only by Canada's real estate boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale. 


Federal government extends foreign buyer ban on Canadian homes to 2027

The federal government will continue to ban foreign nationals from buying homes in Canada for another two years as housing affordability concerns continue to trouble cities across the country.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made the announcement today, saying Canada is extending its foreign homebuyer ban up until 2027.

Under the ban, which first came into effect in 2023, foreign commercial enterprises and people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will continue to be prohibited from purchasing residential property in Canada.

Freeland issued a statement saying the extension will ensure houses are used for homes for Canadians and families and do not become a speculative financial asset class.

She says the government plans to use all tools possible to make homes more affordable across Canada.

The initial foreign homebuyer ban was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2025.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2024.


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