Housing affordability a continuing issue: Notaries

A December survey of 193 B.C. Notaries across the province found that most saw the same or decreased level of first-time buyers in 2019 despite a softened market, particularly during the beginning of the year.

Notaries also indicated that first-time buyers who were making a home purchase were much more likely to lean on parents for financial support to meet down payment requirements than in previous years with 90 per cent saying most first-time buyer clients got help in 2019 compared to 70 per cent in 2015.

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“Buying a home in any market involves both short and long-term costs that homebuyers need to carefully consider and be prepared for,” said Daniel Boisvert, a Notary in Tsawwassen and president of BC Notaries Association. “I advise first-time homebuyers to get pre-approved for a mortgage before home shopping and to be prepared for all the additional costs, such as legal fees, property taxes, inspection fees, renovations and moving fees. Also start with a smaller starter home, then trade up when you can.”

According to the survey, Notary participants also cited anecdotally that they are seeing increasing activity and more purchases in the second half of 2019 following a quieter market in 2018 and early 2019. 

B.C. Notaries are responsible for the conveyancing or other legal services in more than half of all residential real estate transactions in the province, and often find themselves helping first-time homebuyers understand the process.  

Notaries emphasized that it’s also important that first-time buyers, in particular, are aware of the risks of unpaid taxes remaining from the previous owner; as well as vacancy taxes, non-resident taxes and possible speculation taxes which may come into effect if they’re not planning to live in the home full-time.

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