B.C. Notaries are already seeing signs of a strong spring real estate market on the horizon.
With record low interest rates continuing for the foreseeable future, first-time home buyers and investors are increasingly attracted to the market.
The B.C. Real Estate Association recently reported the total sales dollar volume for January 2015 has increased 8.3 per cent compared to the same time last year, with 4,377 residential units sold province-wide.
It is predicting modest overall annual increase of 2.4 per cent this year. While growth in Northern B.C. and the Kootenay, Okanagan and Interior regions may be limited due to the downturn in Alberta, this has no anticipated impact on real estate markets in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, the Fraser Valley and elsewhere.
“Spring is just around the corner, and notaries are already seeing an increase in real estate transactions,”said Wayne Braid, CEO of The Society of Notaries Public of B.C.
“Low mortgage rates, strong population growth, solid job markets, and retirees moving west to escape long winters are creating continued housing demand for homes and rental properties.”
B.C. Notaries provide conveyancing expertise on more than half of all real estate sales and purchases in B.C., and related real estate-related services to many home buyers and sellers. Aspiring new homeowners—whether young couples, singles, or families—often ask notaries for trusted guidance on their important purchase. As such, notaries frequently help dispel common real estate myths for their clients.
1. Myth: The high “average house price” for a specific region, like Vancouver, means the market is unattainable for the average buyer.
“In fact, the average house prices that you often read about in real estate studies are often skewed by housing sales in elite neighbourhoods in Vancouver,” said Daniel Boisvert, a notary public in Tsawwassen. “This can create the false impression that all houses are similarly priced and not affordable to young families and first-time buyers, which just isn’t true if buyers are willing to look at other neighbourhoods, different types of homes and nearby municipalities.”
2. Myth: A small hike in interest rates would make mortgage payments challenging and home buying inaccessible.
“Interest rates are so low right now that a small increase in mortgage rates wouldn’t increase one’s payments a significant amount,” said Derek Smoluk, Kamloops notary public.
3. Myth: A large down payment is required to buy a home.
“We are seeing a great number of high-ratio financing purchases right now, where the purchaser is only required to have a minimal down payment. We are also seeing multiple family members, such as parents and their children, going on the title and the mortgage together to make the purchase more affordable, and in some cases to make the purchase possible,” said Kristy Martin, Victoria (Langford) notary public.
4. Myth: Condos and houses are similar investments.
“I have seen a widening gap develop between condo values and house prices. With single-family detached houses, there is never an oversupply, but with condos, particularly in downtown said David Watts, a notary public in Vancouver. “On the upside, condos are in very high demand as rental properties. It’s important for clients to fully consider their current and future goals when purchasing either type of home. Both are good investments, but for slightly different reasons.”
5. Myth: Only lawyers can complete all the legal documents.
“In fact, B.C. Notaries can give legal advice with regard to your real estate transactions. Notaries are trained and authorized to draw up and complete all the legal documentation involved with the purchase or sale of a home,” said Nick Aubin, a Notary Public in Kelowna and Lake Country.
6. Myth: If the seller has deferred paying property taxes, it won’t affect selling their home. “While the purchaser would not be on the hook for these outstanding taxes, the property title cannot transfer to new owners until it’s paid,” said Laurie Salvador, a notary public in Sidney. “This is the responsibility of the seller and is taken care of by the seller’s notary as part of the closing process.”