What is speculation and vacancy tax?

The newly named “speculation and vacancy tax” will apply to those who own second and vacant homes in applicable areas of B.C. as of December 31, the provincial government announced October 16.

Anyone who owns a home that is not their primary residence, and that is not rented out at least six months of the year, on December 31 of each taxation year, is liable for the tax for that year. The tax only applies in certain areas, which are the Capital Regional District, Metro Vancouver (except Bowen Island and Lions Bay), Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Kelowna, West Kelowna, Nanaimo and Lantzville.

For owners of such properties, as of December 31, 2018, the tax will be levied at 0.5 per cent of the property’s assessed value for all owners, no matter where their own residence is.

In 2019 and beyond, the tax rates will be:

• 2 per cent for foreign nationals and satellite families who do not pay income tax in Canada;

• 1 per cent for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are not resident in B.C. for income tax purposes (and not members of a satellite family); and

• 0.5 per cent for British Columbia residents who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents (and not members of a satellite family). B.C. residents are also eligible for up to a $2,000 tax credit against this tax, effectively exempting the first $400K in value of the property from the tax.

All homeowners within the affected areas will be sent declaration forms by mid-February. Owners must declare whether the home is their primary residence or a second home/investment property, and whether that property is rented out and, if so, for how many months. For property owners in the City of Vancouver, this declaration form will be in addition to their municipal Empty Homes Tax declaration form.

Carole James, Minister of Finance, said, “We believe the people who live and work in B.C. should be able to afford a place to call home. Right now, British Columbians are faced with some of the highest housing prices in the world and there is widespread support for government’s plan to moderate the housing market. We’re tackling this housing crisis head-on and the speculation and vacancy tax is an essential piece in our plan.”

The speculation tax originally proposed in February’s B.C. Budget came under fire from various angles, not least because of its name. Many argued that the majority of those who will be liable to pay are not real estate speculators, but owners of second homes that are left vacant much of the year. The tax has newly been named the “speculation and vacancy tax” to address those concerns.

Other concerns raised by property owners, municipalities and the development industry have not yet been addressed by the finance ministry. These include fears that the tax will put some regions at a competitive disadvantage over other areas, that the tax could damage tourism and the local economy, and that owners of vacation homes will be unable to continue to enjoy their properties.

However, the ministry said that it would have exemptions in place for developers and builders who own land on which they are applying for financing, applying for a permit, undergoing community consultations, clearing land, undergoing renovations and entering into design, engineering or building contracts.

In a statement, Urban Development Institute president and CEO Anne McMullin said, “In the midst of a housing crisis, we applaud the government’s recognition that taxes on development lands will increase costs on the delivery of all types of new housing. We encourage government to also act in Budget 2019 to apply similar exemptions for the new school tax and other new property taxes that are passed on to eventual home buyers and renters.”

McMullin added, “We remain concerned about the application of the [speculation and vacancy] tax to British Columbians and out-of-province Canadian taxpayers. We had also hoped the government would consider respecting the opt-out request of many municipalities outside of Metro Vancouver.”

Polls suggest that most B.C. residents do not share the industry's concerns. A survey by Insights West following February’s B.C. Budget found that the vast majority of British Columbians were in support of the province’s proposed taxation measures, including the speculation tax.

More from Gov.BC

The speculation and vacancy tax is a key measure in tackling the housing crisis in major urban centres in British Columbia, where home prices and rents have skyrocketed out of reach for many British Columbians.

The provincial government is taking action because people who live and work in B.C. deserve an affordable place to call home.

The speculation and vacancy tax is a part of government's 30-Point Plan to make housing more affordable for people in our province.

This new annual tax is designed to:

  • Target foreign and domestic speculators who own residences in B.C. but don’t pay taxes here
  • Turn empty homes into good housing for people
  • Raise revenue that will directly support affordable housing

All owners of residential property in the designated taxable regions of B.C. must complete an annual declaration. Over 99% of British Columbians are estimated to be exempt from the tax.

How to Exempt Yourself

To claim your exemption, you must register your property by March 31, 2019 – and it’s easy to do, either by phone or online. The information you’ll need to register your property declaration will be mailed by mid-February to all owners of residential property within the taxable regions. 

Contact us if you’re expecting a declaration letter from us and haven’t received one by late February.

Please note that if your property has more than one owner, even if the other owner is your spouse, a separate declaration must be made for each owner. 

How the Tax Will Be Charged If You're Not Exempt

The speculation and vacancy tax rate varies depending on the owner’s tax residency and whether the owner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a member of a satellite family.

By levying the highest tax rate on foreign owners and satellite families (those who earn a majority of income outside the province and pay little to no income tax in B.C.), the speculation and vacancy tax is a way to make sure these property owners are paying their fair share in taxes.

The speculation and vacancy tax applies based on ownership as of December 31 each year.

Note: The speculation and vacancy tax is distinct from the empty homes tax in the City of Vancouver.

Read our answers to questions on the speculation and vacancy tax and learn about how to declare, the taxable regions and the available exemptions.

Subscribe to receive updates as new information about the speculation and vacancy tax becomes available.


For more information text (604) 537-9791


- Vancourier

- Goverment of BC

Read full post


Home listings increase while buyers remain in holding pattern

Residential property sales in Metro Vancouver

Home listings continue to increase across all housing categories in the Metro Vancouver* housing market while home buyer activity remains below historical averages.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential home sales in the region totalled 1,103 in January 2019, a 39.3 per cent decrease from the 1,818 sales recorded in January 2018, and a 2.9 per cent increase from the 1,072 homes sold in December 2018.

Last month’s sales were 36.3 per cent below the 10-year January sales average and were the lowest January-sales total since 2009.

There were 4,848 detached, attached and apartment homes newly listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in Metro Vancouver in January 2019. This represents a 27.7 per cent increase compared to the 3,796 homes listed in January 2018 and a 244.6 per cent increase compared to the 1,407 homes listed in December 2018.

The total number of homes currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 10,808, a 55.6 per cent increase compared to January 2018 (6,947) and a 5.2 per cent increase compared to December 2018 (10,275).

For all property types, the sales-to-active listings ratio for January 2019 is 10.2 per cent. By property type, the ratio is 6.8 per cent for detached homes, 11.9 per cent for townhomes, and 13.6 per cent for condominiums.


Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12 per cent mark for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months.

“Home prices have edged down across all home types in the region over the last seven months,” Moore said.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential homes in Metro Vancouver is currently $1,019,600. This represents a 4.5 per cent decrease over January 2018, and a 7.2 per cent decrease over the past six months.

“Economic fundamentals underpinning our market for home buyers and sellers remain strong. Today’s market conditions are largely the result of the mortgage stress test that the federal government imposed at the beginning of last year,” Moore said. “This measure, coupled with an increase in mortgage rates, took away as much as 25 per cent of purchasing power from many home buyers trying to enter the market.”

Sales of detached homes in January 2019 reached 339, a 30.4 per cent decrease from the 487 detached sales recorded in January 2018. The benchmark price for detached homes is $1,453,400. This represents a 9.1 per cent decrease from January 2018, and an 8.3 per cent decrease over the past six months.

Sales of apartment homes reached 559 in January 2019, a 44.8 per cent decrease compared to the 1,012 sales in January 2018. The benchmark price of an apartment property is $658,600. This represents a 1.7 per cent decrease from January 2018, and a 6.6 per cent decrease over the past six months.

Attached home sales in January 2019 totalled 205, a 35.7 per cent decrease compared to the 319 sales in January 2018. The benchmark price of an attached unit is $800,600. This represents a 0.5 per cent decrease from January 2018, and a 6.2 per cent decrease over the past six months.

* Areas covered by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

Click here to download FULL REPORT

Read full post

Lobby of Dutch19

You barely register it's there when you walk in. Yet it is part of the reason you end up making an offer on a luxury condo. It's part of the reason you relax when you cross the threshold to your building. It's the lure, it's the appeal—and it's the subliminal effect—of luxury art. 

"When I first started staging, nobody in the high end was staging at all for some reason," says Cheryl Eisen, founder of Interior Marketing Group, which stages many luxury and celebrity homes. "As we started doing it, I always started by putting art in the spaces. Now the highest end of real estate in New York City, which is the highest in the world, more or less, is being staged more and more. This is more of a growing thing." One of the first things Eisen does upon seeing a client's space is to photoshop in ideas of art that would both look good and highlight the home's features, such as its double-height ceilings or tall windows. Then her in-house art team, Art Loft, creates unique pieces for each of the spaces.

The trend started with the obvious—hanging pictures on the wall or creating places for freestanding sculptures in the corner. But as it became clear how powerful an impact art has on influencing the purchase of the property, developers realized they could have even more success by weaving art into the tiny spaces that had previously been overlooked. The leather-and-silk custom-made headboards in Dubai's super-prime Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences are one example. Developers commissioned artist Helen Amy Murray and interior designer Sybille de Margerie to create interiors that weave artwork into the living spaces so that from every vantage point in a room there is artwork within view. Here's a close-up of the leather-and-silk piece indicative of what will be created for the units.

"Herringbone" made of hand-sculpted silk and wadding with leather panels. Helen Amy Murray

“Buyers of superprime property have travelled the world, have the finest luxury goods at their fingertips and expect the very best in design, architecture and lifestyle," says Maria Morris, partner at global real estate agency Knight Frank and spokesperson for Dubai's superprime Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences. "We understand the importance these buyers place on ‘individuality’ – just as with any other luxury purchase they are making, they want something that no one else has. As a result, superprime developers are constantly pushing themselves to create properties different to any residences previously offered on the market."

There's even a German word for all this—Gesamtkuntstwerk, which means "total artwork" in the sense of creating a comprehensive art experience within a space. The 19 Dutch building, pictured up top, pays homage to its namesake country with a front lobby desk made from custom Dutch Delft-style tiles by artist Colum McCartan with pictures of old 17th-century etchings and drawings of New Amsterdam. The rest of the building has other nods to Dutch heritage including custom Dutch-inspired elevator cabs, references to Vermeer and a 4.5-meter Magnus Gjoen-created piece for the leasing office that harkens the Arms of the Dutch Republic. 

No part of a building is off-limits when it comes to displaying one-of-a-kind pieces of art. The Madison Square Portfolio commissioned several different pieces of custom graffiti art by Skott Marsi for its building's elevators—a place where residents will spend very little of their time, yet developers still found it worthwhile to take advantage of the blank wall. 

Original elevator graffiti art by Skott Marsi Kaufman Organization

Artist Gérard Faivre creates "art homes," which come with an aesthetic designed to complement a precurated art collection that can be negotiated as part of the sale. Two examples of his work are coming up for auction later this month as part of a massive December sale by Concierge Auctions. This art-centric design helps set a high price bar for the transaction. Bidding for his three-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment at 74 Avenue Marceau in Paris (pictured below) starts at €5.85 million ($6.6 million) and another unit at Francois 1er at 4 Rue Lincoln starts at €4.25 million ($4.9 million). The auction opens December 14 and closes December 19. Click on either link to be taken to the individual bidding page, or see the entire sale here

Parisian art home up for auction this week.Concierge Actions 

Developers have found another way to make art part of their branding, without making it a central part of their staging efforts. The Italian developers of 125 Greenwich, Bizzi & Partners, partnered with Hollywood-based art firm Creative Art Partners to cocurate a collection called "The Collection at 125 Greenwich Street," which allows residents to purchase artworks by major artists as part of their purchase of a home. Creative Art Partners drew from their nearly 3,000 artworks by artists such as Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Edward Ruscha for the special collection. (Note: 125 Greenwich also made news when they partnered with superyacht designers, March & White, to design the interiors of the condos.  Superyacht design influencing homes on land is becoming more of a trend so here's an in-depth look at how boats have started to inspire landlubber design).

Part of the collection at 125 Greenwich125 Greenwich

The goal is the same goal art has always had—to evoke an emotional response—but it has to meet the challenge of creating a mood or a feeling while not being so specific that it fails to resonate with large enough numbers of people who are potential buyers.

The Summit of Manhattan by Todd Stuart for Summit NYC Summit Building

“We did a place in the Puck Building and one of the units hadn’t been selling," says Eisen. "It had a giant Basquiat over the fireplace. I think one of the problems was that all you noticed was the Basquiat. Buyers want to relate to being able to display their art collection on the walls of these grand spaces. You have to be able to communicate that with oversized art, but on the other hand to distract them takes away from what you’re really selling, which is the architecture and the views.” She points out the example of the apartment building that used to belong to rap mogul Diddy, for which IMG did the staging. That canvas hanging in the double-height living room needed to be huge—much larger than ten feet tall—but not call attention to itself. The solution was to create a white-on-white design of overlapping block shapes to achieve texture and raised surfaces that draw the eye up to the ceiling at a subtle level of awareness.

Aileron by Alyson Shotz at 70 Vestry mimics a butterfly’s wing and reflects the changing light over the Hudson River.

One way developers have overcome this hurdle is to commission site-specific large pieces at the entrances or courtyards of the buildings that immediately convey a sense of place, but keep everything around them neutral so a viewer can create their own meaning and context for the piece. Summit NYC, near the United Nations, relied on sleek, chromelike interpretation of the infinity symbol to convey the ever-changing, global nature of the location, while 70 Vestry near the Hudson River used a light-reflecting material to capture the shimmers coming off the water (both pictured above).

Galerie is a Long Island City building that started with art as its main theme, even using the tagline "Home is where the art is" for its marketing materials. It has an onsite art gallery, Art Box, which showcases work by New York artists, and use work by well-known artists for all of their common spaces. Below is the courtyard sculpture "Brilliant Corners" by Allen Glatter.

"Brilliant Corners" by Allen Glatter Binyan Studios 

Eighty East Tenth commissioned a piece for its courtyard from the artist John Clement. Called "Cherry," the sculpture is made from coiled steel pipe and finished with a Ferrari Red high-gloss auto paint, which aims to evoke a sense of centrifugal motion coming out of the ground. 

"Cherry" by John Clement 

The Ritz Carlton Residences in Miami have taken things one step further and created a dedicated art studio in the building where residents can use the space to create their own artwork without having to bring everything up to their own condo.

Residents' Art Studio Riz Carlton Residences 

Call it subliminal messaging. Call it subtle marketing. Whatever it is, it works. Eisen gives the example of when she first started working with New York superagent Fredrik Eklund, star of Million Dollar Listing. Upon first seeing the listing she suggested it be staged as cool bachelor pad in the style of a James Bond-type character. "Fredrik called me a week later," she says, "And said, ‘You’re never going to guess who won the bidding war. It was Daniel Craig.’” 

View orginal post here: 

Read full post

Do you wish you could breathe some fresh life into your home for 2019? Then you may want to add some elements to your home featuring current design trends. But you might look at some of the trendiest contemporary spaces and feel those are out of reach. After all, many spaces incorporate a contemporary aesthetic in the way they are designed on an architectural level, meaning you might need a complete remodel or new build to achieve those looks. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to modernize a home that don’t require a wrecking ball. Below are some added embellishments that can make your home look more updated for the new year.

Large Contemporary Mirror

An easy way to add stark, updated geometry to a space is to look into the different mirror designs out there. An example in the photo above uses circular and square geometry in juxtaposition. It really adds some sleek geometry to the space, and the gray frame matches the neutrals in the rest of the room.

Mirrors are an easy way to modernize a home. A large mirror can be its own focal point. They’re easy to source and hang and a large mirror can do wonders in opening up a space. Plus, the sleek texture of a mirror makes any space look more updated.

Modernize a Home with Unconventional Furniture

Large pieces of furniture tend to be their own focal point. So if you want to overhaul how a room looks, simply change the furniture.

If you want a look that is on the more contemporary side, try for unique pieces of furniture, like in the photo above. Pieces that eschew the traditional sofa and chair shape have a more updated, almost futuristic look. The open back and freely placed armrests also add some interesting geometry to the space.

If you’re not looking to go too bold, you also might want to think about more understated contemporary ways people are using furniture. For instance, neutrals tend to be popular right now, but mixing them with brightly colored single accent pieces can help a room pop.

Geometric Light Fixtures

Another way to modernize a home is to think about the lighting fixtures. An intricate lighting fixture can breathe life into any room. An example is the highly interesting piece in the photo above. Its sleek chrome design and industrial-style exposed bulbs make it quite the eye-grabber.

A new lighting fixture is a good way to set the tone for a more updated look. You can go for industrial pieces, sleek metal pieces or even retro sunburst designs – they’re making a comeback. Lighting fixtures are also fairly easy to replace, but they make it look like you did some major hardware overhauls in your space.

Change the Wall Art

You can also change the art on your walls. That’s an easy way to update a space without doing anything too drastic. Like the other design elements above, large art tends to stand as a focal point so changing the art can help set a new tone in the space.

One idea is to go for abstract art, like in the photo above. Many people associate the height of abstract art with the mid-20th century. Because of that, it tends to pop up in mid-century modern styles. However, a good piece of modern art can transcend the ages with its color, raw emotion and eye-grabbing designs. Abstract art can also serve a design purpose. For instance, the piece in the photo above juxtaposes some earthy green color against an industrial space.

Combine Neutrals

Neutrals are very popular in updated, contemporary spaces. They open up the room and tend to give a relaxed tone that won’t go out of style too soon. So if you want to modernize a home, try going for neutral tones.

An example is the space in the photo above. The room balances its neutral tones impeccably. The brown in the sofa reflects the wood coloring behind the TV and shelving. An area rug is a good way to add more neutral tones to a space, as well. Neutral throw pillows and a neutral-colored coffee table are even more easy ways to add these tones to a space without having to remodel.

Read full post

One word: Colour

Yes, neutrals are still king. But 2018 invited us to blow the lid off our preconceived notions about color theory and have some fun. Jewel tones started making their mark on the scene, inviting us to amp up the saturation and give our spaces a feel of richness. Previously off-limits colors were welcomed into our homes. Black even set itself apart as a decidedly trendy and luxurious color for walls, flooring and cabinetry. And as we expanded our color palettes, we also expanded the way we use color. Gone are the days of a single accent color. In 2018, layering multiple different accent hues helped a room shine.
And beyond simply choosing which colors to implement in your home, 2018 was a year to explore where you use those colors, too. Often forgotten spaces like the foyer, ceiling and front door got new leases on life thanks to the drive to add vibrant and interesting hues everywhere in the home.
Feeling overwhelmed by the overload of color options? Don’t worry. We have a guide on how to balance bold colors to help you out.

Maximalism starts making its mark

No 2018 design trend recap would be complete without taking a dip into maximalism. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that home design seems to be trending in the direction of more. We just talked about how we started making our foray into more color. We also went for more pattern and texture, like eye-catching or moody floral wallpapers, interesting kitchen backsplashes and colorful grout. Maximalism is all about filling a space with things you love and that bring you joy, and we jumped on that opportunity in 2018.

Out of all the different home changes we’re exploring in this 2018 design trend recap, we think maximalism is the one with the most staying power.


Eye-catching lighting sets the stage

Sure, our parents told us not to stare at the sun. But in 2018, it’s been hard not to stare at the light – at least, the lighting we brought into our homes. Gone are the days of boring, basic lighting that just gets the job done. This year, we took pendant lights from simple to really something. Suddenly, you could find them in architectural shapes and mixed textures hung in new and exciting configurations.

And we didn’t stop with pendants, either. This year, lots of designers and decorators took risks with unique and funky lighting. Even the humble string light got a major upgrade and expanded usage this year. Some of the trends might not survive past this 2018 design trend recap, but some – like abstract metal chandeliers – are surely just starting to enjoy their time in the, ahem, light.


Natural and industrial blend

In 2018, we finally started finding ways to marry our innate craving for nature with our love of the sleek simplicity of industrial design. That was thanks, in large part, to the concretecraze. All of a sudden, we were pouring cement for our countertops, floors, mantels and more. As a key element in industrial design, concrete lends an inherent sleekness even as it mimics natural stone. With concrete in place, we had our canvas to bring other natural textures into our homes, like greenery walls and roughly-hewn wood.

We also looked to plant life to soften the edges of industrial and minimalist spaces. Potted plants are having a moment, but you’re not limited by open floor space. Hanging and wall mounted plants trended in a major way in 2018. We even added greenery to our roofs. This year, we blended natural and industrial. Looks like we finally figured out how to have our cake and eat it, too.

What trends were you surprised to see Freshome cover in 2018? Which ones would you have liked to learn more about? Which ones did we skip in this 2018 design trend recap? Let us know! We’re coming up on a new year and are excited to explore 2019’s design trends with you!


Read full post
Moe Pourtaghi

"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi

Subscribe to receive Market Updates & Tips

The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.