Single-Family Landrush, Rate Hold, Public Land Use, T3 Return

Housing inventory is on the rise in Greater Vancouver with new listings up 31% compared to last February. Sales in the region totalled 2,070, representing a 13.5% increase—45% over January 2024 albeit 23.3% below the 10-year seasonal average. Across all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio is 22.4%; 16% for detached homes, 27.9% for attached, and 25.9% for apartments. A decline in fixed mortgage rates and expectations for future Bank of Canada rate cuts are driving sentiment in the market and bringing pent-up demand off the sidelines. 

Single-family homes in the spotlight 

The legislative amendments to fill in the missing middle are scheduled for implementation on June 30th—aiming to address housing challenges and create diverse options for both prospective and existing homeowners. This is the boldest regulatory change we’ve seen in real estate. The anticipated impact extends beyond increased housing options and a potential boost in the value of single-family homes, particularly older ones on larger lots, due to the newfound development potential. RS zones were consolidated into R1, leading many single-family dwellings to sell at a premium—under contract typically within a matter of days.

Single-family homes are becoming a rare commodity in many major metros across Canada. The Vancouver Plan excludes any new single-family zoning, and we simply aren't building them much anymore. Increased density will be met with a raft of challenges in neighborhoods from parking to infrastructure, and we will have to deal with decentralized densification all across the province. The efforts to control the situation and provide the services that are needed are rather limited. We're all in agreement that we need to provide more housing. Still, some argue the provincial government is doing too much too fast, as it was recently announced that the provincial deficit is set to be the largest on record at $7.9 billion.

Here is a list of single-family home sales over the last 30 days.
Single-family home values in Canada

Bank of Canada holds interest rate

There was no rate cut as expected from the BoC—the key message being core inflation remains above their target and needs to drop further. There's no rush to cut, but CIBC Capital Markets predict that the country could be in store for a 1.25% rate cut in 2024, starting in June. The report’s overall theme is that economic growth will be unlikely in the first half of 2024. For the first time since last June, Canada's lowest nationally advertised 5-year fixed rate is back under 5%.

These are the lowest mortgage rates in Canada right now. Contact me to speak with one of our preferred mortgage brokers for a no-obligation consultation.

CMHC axes First Time Homebuyer Program

CMHC's First Time Homebuyer Program looks like it was dead in the water. Canada's national housing agency is discontinuing the incentive on March 21st.  The plan was meant to help reduce monthly mortgage payments for first-time buyers by having the government take on partial ownership of the property, offering loans up to 10% of the purchase price. It turns out not a lot of people wanted the government to be a partner in their home. As of the end of 2022, CMHC had committed $329 million representing about 18,500 applications. Dawson Creek was the only region in B.C. where the program worked. Taking a look at the prices up there is perhaps indicative of why:

Two-year extension to the ban on foreign purchases

The existing ban was set to expire at the end of this calendar year, yet the government is justifying an extension to the end of 2026 on the basis of improving affordability, without any supporting data. It failed to show that there's been a significant reduction in the flow of foreign capital into the residential real estate market, any enforcement action, and most importantly any causal link between the ban and affordability.

Airbnb restrictions lack enforcement

The City of Vancouver processed 137 new STR applications in Jan 2024, compared to ~200 in Jan 2023. Despite the City staff sending 119 non-compliant listings to Airbnb for removal in October last year, no action has been taken so far. The municipality does not have legal authority to mandate STR platforms to remove non-compliant listings, but the Provincial government does. With the new provincial legislation slated for the summer of 2024, STR platforms will be mandated to remove listings lacking valid business licenses.

Changes to Land Use on Public Land

The Provincial government plans to co-manage all Crown land with more than 200 First Nations in "shared decision-making" by this spring. In other words, within the next four months or so, the government hopes to introduce an entirely new regime where the government and First Nations jointly make decisions about land use on public lands. This change will have massive consequences for B.C.:
  • Vastly increased housing costs (as every new housing sub-division on the outskirts of any town now would need indigenous "consultation" and every felled tree needs to be approved;
  • Food getting far more expensive as much ALR is on native land; and
  • Vastly falling investments and job losses as major projects such as mines, roads, Site C dam equivalents, pipelines or transmission lines get held up, delayed, or even more expensive.

New T3 return  requirement you might not know about

One of the most significant changes is that the new reporting requirements apply to so‑called "bare trusts". A bare trust includes an arrangement where the trust can reasonably be considered to act as an agent for its beneficiaries with respect to all dealings in all the trust’s property.

Under the expanded requirements, many other informal trust and agency relationships may now require an annual T3 return. The following are a couple of real estate-related examples of situations where a T3 return may now be required:
  • An individual has purchased a property "in trust", but the actual owner is not clearly identified. This arrangement is commonly used with real estate purchases or certain pooling of private investments where the title holder or purchaser is not the true underlying economic or beneficial owner of the property; and
  • An individual is registered on the title of any real estate that they do not beneficially own.
New penalties have been introduced for failing to file a T3 return (including the Schedule 15 beneficial ownership schedule) or failing to provide required information on a T3 return if the failure was done knowingly or was due to gross negligence. These new penalties can be severe and are equal to the greater of $2,500 and 5% of the highest total fair market value of all property held by the trust in the year, with no maximum penalty. Happy tax season.
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