Here's today's budget highlights (you can see the whole budget on the BC Gov website)[I should also disclose that I am not associated with any political party or organization and have consistently voted Liberal in BC since I've been eligible to vote]:
1. "First Time Home Buyers’ Program is enhanced to exempt first-time buyers across British Columbia from paying the Property Transfer Tax on homes valued up to $375,000. This will save first-time buyers up to $5,500" An increase from 325K
My thoughts: after checking out what's available in this price range, I'm none too thrilled. Considering that every 10K in purchase price at today's interest rates adds about 100/month to mortgage servicing, $5,500 isn't much. That's about $50/month on your mortgage payment. Whatever it's value is it is a tax break and I'll take it, but it won't impact my decision to purchase AT ALL.
2. "The government will introduce legislation to allow people to start deferring their property taxes at age 55, rather than age 60. This provides added budget flexibility for those on fixed incomes."
My thoughts: Great call Gordo... this isn't the largest, most-wealthy demographic in BC is it? This is a tax cut, given to the Grit's largest supporting demographic. And it does nothing to help those who can't get into the market. I doubt very much if this tax break will filter into rents either, so those of us renting don't get a break either.
3. On renting: "An additional 5,800 families — more than 20,000 in total — will now be eligible to receive up to $563 a month to help with their housing costs"
My thoughts: I'm all for helping those on low incomes find suitable housing... especially if it makes our downtown experience more pleasant for visitors.
4. "10 per cent personal income tax reduction for individuals earning up to $100,000"
My thoughts: before you think your tax bill just dropped by 10%, it didn't. This is 10% of BC income tax which is really just a blip on the total income tax bill you pay each year. My and the future wife (annual income roughly $70,000) average savings maybe $1800 [when they conveniently compare it to pre-2001 taxation]. What's that per month in a mortgage? Roughly $45 or an extra $4K in purchase price. When you bought a house in 2001, chances are you paid closer to $250K rather than the $520,000 it costs for a similar home in this market. Hardly keeping pace with the housing inflation rate I'd say.
5. Home owner grant increased threshold to $950K.
My thoughts: paper millionaires rejoice! Especially if you're a "low income senior, veteran, person with disability, and other qualified individuals"
I'd keep looking for more, but it's a bit boring, so search for yourself further if you'd like. Really, as I see it, this is an appearance of doing something without really doing much at all. Am I disappointed. Not really, I'm a bit of a fiscal conservative and would much rather the debt go down and the streets get cleaned-up before tax cuts that barely make a dent in the housing price crisis. If the Gov't really wanted to do something substantial, the only answer would be market intervention and I would never suggest that. This write-up is provided only for information purposes, I'd rather not engage in a partisan political debate, but just wanted to apply the housing affordability budget for those interested in the House Hunt land.
On to hunting. Completely devastated today. It is looking like our pipe-dream of home ownership is a dream without even a pipe to sell for a down payment.
Looked at one condo. Priced 5K above assessment. Huge, 2bed 2 bath, low monthly assessment ($135), hadn't been updated since it was built in 1975 (shag carpets and all). Our price per month on this baby $1400/month (when we include assessment, taxes, bills etc). $1400 to live in 1970s paradise!
Checked out half a dozen houses, all with suites except two (one had potential)... I won't go into detail because its not worth the effort. None of these were over $400K, but none could get the kind of monthly income we'd need to even approach the $1400/month of the condo-related payments... in one case, we'd be paying $1200/month to live in a dark, dingy one-bed basement suite nowhere convenient to our current working/studying lives, that is currently rented for $600/month inclusive.