Most of us pay attention to the news in some capacity. We have all glanced over recent articles about the changes in government policy geared towards the housing market. Our blog this quarter briefly outlines some of the policies.
Amendment to the foreign buyer ban
The release of this policy last year had some unintended consequences that will now hopefully be addressed through this amendment. The amendment allows foreign buyers to purchase residential property in certain circumstances:
- The prohibition doesn’t apply to the purchase of vacant land
- There is an exemption for development purposes, for example if a foreign buyer is purchasing land to create more housing opportunities
- An increase in the corporation foreign control threshold from 3% to 10%
These changes allow foreigners to purchase vacant lands zoned for residential use or mixed
use for any purpose, as well as purchase residential property for the purpose of development. The increase in foreign control threshold is now better aligned with definitions under the Underused Housing Tax Act and will also provide flexibility for corporations that have foreign shareholders.
The Federal Budget 2023
The budget re-confirmed the Federal Government’s previous commitments on housing, including implementing a future anti-flipping tax, applying GST to all assignment sales, and launching a $4 billion Housing Accelerator Fund. There was also the introduction of a new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account, for first-time homebuyers. Further details on these have not been released yet.
The province has released a refreshed housing strategy – “Homes for People”, where they have committed to the following:
- Introducing legislature later this year to change zoning across the province to allow for up to four units on a traditional single family detached lot.
- Initiatives allowing secondary suites under new legislation and piloting incentives for homeowners to build and rent out these units.
- One window permitting approach: The Province is taking another step to tackle the housing crisis by creating a one-stop-shop approach to provincial permitting to help speed up approvals and construction to build more homes. Currently, authorizations related to homebuilding in BC can require multiple provincial permit applications spanning different ministries with different processes. This will speed up the process and eliminate the need for multiple applications across ministries.
Victoria city council has adopted the “Missing Middle Housing Initiative”. The new zoning regulations will allow up to six homes on most average residential lots if they are zoned traditional residential. Corner lots will be allowed rezoning for townhouse projects, provided they meet the lot configuration requirements. This process will still require development permits but should bypass the lengthy rezoning process.