A Return to Balance for BC Housing Market

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,884 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) across the province in June, a 32.5 per cent decrease from the same month last year. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $716,326, down 1.3 per cent from June 2017. Total sales dollar volume was $5.6 billion, a 33 per cent decline from June 2017.

Are we about to see a rise in variable rate applications?

Most Canadians have a fixed rate mortgage but is that about to change?

A new survey from CIBC shows that, although 72% of Canadians have an FRM currently, just 54% of respondents said they would opt for a fixed rate mortgage if they signed the papers on July 10th, 2018.

However, the remaining 46% of those who are homeowners or plan to buy a home are not necessarily planning to pick a variable product; just 19% said they would while 26% are undecided and may need some help from a mortgage professional.

The survey also shows that 83% of Canadians would prefer stability over risk, suggesting a shift away from fixed rate mortgages is unlikely.

“Most Canadians believe a fixed mortgage is the way to go – especially those in the early days of paying down their mortgage or juggling household expenses,” says Tracy Best, Senior Vice President, Mobile Advice, CIBC. “Conversely, for those considering a variable mortgage, they may benefit from a lower rate initially but also need to be comfortable that rates may change, potentially several times, over the course of the mortgage. If rates go up, they need to ask themselves how that might impact their lifestyle and financial health.”

Most Canadians have a fixed rate mortgage but is that about to change?

A new survey from CIBC shows that, although 72% of Canadians have an FRM currently, just 54% of respondents said they would opt for a fixed rate mortgage if they signed the papers today.

However, the remaining 46% of those who are homeowners or plan to buy a home are not necessarily planning to pick a variable product; just 19% said they would while 26% are undecided and may need some help from a mortgage professional.

The survey also shows that 83% of Canadians would prefer stability over risk, suggesting a shift away from fixed rate mortgages is unlikely.

“Most Canadians believe a fixed mortgage is the way to go – especially those in the early days of paying down their mortgage or juggling household expenses,” says Tracy Best, Senior Vice President, Mobile Advice, CIBC. “Conversely, for those considering a variable mortgage, they may benefit from a lower rate initially but also need to be comfortable that rates may change, potentially several times, over the course of the mortgage. If rates go up, they need to ask themselves how that might impact their lifestyle and financial health.”

Average mortgage balance
The CIBC research shows that the average Canadian homeowner has mortgage debt of $170,000 but that rises to $252,000 for those earning $100K or more.

Among over 55s, 22% have a mortgage with a balance outstanding of $112,600 on average. Almost half of this demographic expect to carry mortgage debt into retirement while only 22% expect to be mortgage-free within 5 years.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

Staging Your Home: How to Make Buyers Fall in Love

With these tips and tricks, your house will be swoon-worthy in no time.


All the world’s a stage, said the Bard.

That includes your house. Which is for sale. And thus needs to look bee-yoo-tee-ful.

Staging entails hiring experts with a flair for interior design. They reimagine your living space and give your house a makeover (with temporary decor and furnishings) so that it gets “oohs” and “aahs” from the buying masses.

Great staging isn’t an insurance policy — there’s no guarantee it will bring in more money when you sell your home — but it’s an important marketing tool. It presents your house in a flattering light and helps you compete at a favorable price. (In that sense, staging is like dressing your house for the price you want, and not the price you have.)

Staging also leads to eye-catching listing photos, which are especially valuable given that most homebuyers begin their search by scrolling through listings online.

So, are you thinking about hiring stagers for your home? Here’s what to consider.


Staging Really Does Help. Like, a Lot.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. A recent survey from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® revealed that:

  • 77% of buyers’ agents said staging makes it easier for their buyer to visualize the property as their future home. It’s like helping the buyer dream it so they can achieve it — and so you and your agent can make the sale.
  • 39% of sellers’ agents said staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time a house is on the market. For you, time saved could mean moving into your new house even sooner.
  • 21% of sellers’ agents said staging a home increases its dollar value between 6% and 10%. Simply put, that may lead to more money in your pocket.

Before You Stage, Budget Accordingly

Many listings agents offer staging services to clients as part of their services. If you want to use someone you find yourself, you typically will have to pay out of pocket.

Staging costs vary depending on where you live and how many rooms you’re staging. On average, home sellers pay between $302 and $1,358 for staging, according to If your house is empty because you’ve already moved, you might also have additional expenses for renting furniture and other homey decorations to make it look lived-in.

Many stagers offer consultations for as low as $150, reports. Using the advice you learn during the consultation to try DIY staging may be your best option if you’re on a tight budget. Listen for tips on how to use the furniture and decor you already have to show off your home’s best assets.


For the Best Results, Declutter

Spoiler alert: No buyer wants to walk into a messy house.

So, take time to clean and declutter your home. Organize everyday household items into crates and keep them out of sight. Stow away seasonal decorations (that means no Christmas in July). Make time for — or invest in — a whole-house cleaning, including carpet shampooing. Change lightbulbs, finally make those minor repairs, and add a fresh coat of paint to any room that needs it.  Clean out closet spaces — because buyers will want to check out the closets.

Also worth considering? Removing personal items from view, such as copious family photos, artwork, or religious keepsakes. The concern is not that home buyers will be offended by you or your lifestyle. The goal is to neutralize the space and help home buyers imagine themselves living there. (But don’t go overboard. You don’t want rooms to feel sterile, either.)

Yes, we did just tell you to clean out your closets. So where are you supposed to put all this stuff? If you don’t have a discrete place to tuck things away, consider renting a storage unit.


To Find the Right Stager for Your Home, Ask Questions

If your agent doesn’t offer staging services, he or she can likely recommend local stagers for you to work with. Before you hire a stager, it’s best to interview at least three candidates in person. You’ll want to get a sense of how much they charge — and whether they have good taste.

To do your due diligence, here are 10 questions to ask prospective stagers:

  1. On average, how many days were your staged homes on the market last year?Experience is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider when vetting stagers. You want someone who stages homes that sell — ideally within 30 days, because that’s when agents often recommend making a price reduction if your house is still on the market.
  2. What price range do you typically work in? Staging luxury homes is a totally different ball game than staging starter homes. Find someone who specializes in homes near your listing price.
  3. What styles of homes do you usually stage? Staging different types of homes also requires different skill sets (think of a penthouse versus a bungalow, for instance). Look for someone with experience working in homes similar to yours.
  4. What formal training have you received? A number of staging organizations, such as the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), offer certification or accreditation. Training from these associations can distinguish professional stagers from beginners.
  5. Do you have insurance? Your home could get damaged when the stager moves furniture in and out. Find someone with business insurance so that you’re protected.
  6. Can I see your portfolio? One of the best ways to judge a stager’s skills is to look at their work. Ask to see photos from the person’s three most recently staged homes.
  7. Do you select the accessories, furniture, and paint for the homes you stage, or do you collaborate with other experts? Some stagers work independently, while others collaborate with other vendors. Make sure you know everyone who will be involved in staging your home, so you don’t have surprise guests rearranging your living room.
  8. What are your rates? Some stagers charge a fee for decorating services, plus a monthly fee for renting furniture, while others charge a flat fee per room for the duration of the listing. Ask about how a stager determines costs before you commit to working with him or her.
  9. What’s your availability? If you’re on a tight timetable, make sure the stager can get your house ready by the date you want to put your house on the market.
  10. Can you provide contacts for past clients? Get in touch with two or three people who have worked with the stager before. Ask how the stager’s services helped with the sale of their homes, and what they might have done differently.

Focus On the Rooms That Count the Most

You don’t have to stage your whole house to make buyers swoon.

Staging the rooms where people tend to spend the most time usually makes the biggest impression on buyers. Start with the living room,

followed by the master bedroom and the kitchen.

Keep in mind that you’re not going for an HGTV-worthy overhaul: Even small touches, like putting fluffy towels in the bathroom or replacing shabby throw pillows in the family room, can make your home that much more attractive.


Oh, and BTW: Stage Your Yard, Too

Your house has to look its best — inside and outside. After all, buyers form their first impression when they pull up in front of your home. It’s no surprise, then, that curb appeal — how your home looks from the exterior — can increase your home’s sales value up to 17%, a Texas Tech University study found.

If you’ve never had your yard professionally landscaped, now may be the time to do it. Landscaped homes have a sales price advantage ranging from 5.5% to 12.7%, according to research by Alex Niemiera, a horticulturist at Virginia Tech. That would mean an extra $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home.

Professional landscaping, however, can cost a lot. You’re aiming for polish, not a new garden of Versailles. If budget is a concern, start with these DIY improvements:

  • Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery. Even if it’s winter, you can add colorful winter blooms and seasonal touches such as garland or lights.
  • Mow the grass.
  • Reseed bare patches of lawn and add fresh sod, as needed.

Then move on to these easy upgrades to your home’s exterior:

  • Wash the front windows.
  • Power wash siding and walkways.
  • Repaint or stain porches and stairs, as needed.
  • Make sure house numbers are easy to see, visible, and pretty.
  • Make sure important outdoor features such as the front door, porch, and sidewalks and paths are well lit. (If not, install new fixtures or lighting.)

Even basic upgrades — like laying fresh mulch, changing porch lights, or installing a new mailbox — can help a buyer fall in love at first sight.

Just wait ’til they come inside and see what else you’ve done with the place.

What’s Motivating Canadian Homebuyers?

Canadian homebuyers are being driven by three key motivations: the fear of missing out, the perceived impact of foreign investors and expectations of future price growth.

These are the findings from CMHC’s recent Housing Market Insight report, which surveyed 30,000 recent homebuyers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

Despite data from Statistics Canada that pegs non-resident home ownership at 4.8 percent in Vancouver and 3.4 percent in Toronto, close to two-thirds of Vancouver respondents (68 percent) and half of Toronto respondents (48 percent) believe foreign buyers are having “a lot of influence” in their respective markets and are responsible for rising home prices.

By comparison, 42 percent of Montreal homebuyers share that belief.

“What is striking is the significant gap between perceptions of the public and available data, so much so that the perception of non-resident ownership takes centre stage when discussing the drivers of price growth,” the report noted.

Guillaume Neault, Senior Manager of Analytics at CMHC, added, “As we can see, psychological drivers can be at odds with economic fundamental drivers.”

Blowing Past Budgets

When it came to setting a budget for the purchase price of a house, a significant percentage of homebuyers in all three cities spent more than they planned.

Nearly half (48 percent) of the buyers in Vancouver and Toronto blew past their budget, while 24 percent of Montreal homebuyers spent more than intended.

CMHC said the figures were similar for both first-time and repeat buyers and suggests that the “fear of missing out” drove many buyers to exceed their budgets.

“Buying sooner than expected may reflect a lack of information about the market, thereby pushing up the initial budget for fear of missing out in a market where prices rise,” the report hypothesized. “Buying later than expected may reflect the inability to buy at the desired price, which would inevitably require buyers to revise their budget in an upward fashion.”

Bidding Wars and the Expectation of Future Price Growth

The survey also delved into the issue of bidding wars, which it noted are common in tight markets.

In Toronto and Vancouver, for example, 55 percent of buyers reported being involved in a bidding war, compared with just 17 percent of buyers in Montreal.

Single-detached homebuyers involved in bidding wars ended up paying a premium of about 20 percent in Toronto ($125,000) and 10 percent in Montreal ($55,000), according to the survey results.

Interestingly, in Vancouver those involved in bidding wars typically paid 15 percent less ($200,000) than the median price. CMHC explained this as being due to the bulk of bidding wars taking place in segments of the market where prices were below the median.

“…those who experienced a bidding war and highly value future growth have higher short-term price expectations than respondents who did not report participating in a bidding war,” the report noted. “This would suggest buyers rationalize their purchase because of expected future growth.”



Best, worst Tri-City ’hoods to buy a condo or townhome

New ranking examines relative value and price-growth potential – and the results may surprise you.


East Coquitlam has been named the best neighbourhood in the Tri-Cities to buy a condo, and nearby Mary Hill in PoCo is the place to go for a townhome, according to a new report by real estate website Zolo.

The rankings were the result of extensive study of all of Greater Vancouver’s MLS neighbourhoods, through which Zolo created a value score for each area based on a series of factors. These included: relative value of an average home compared with surrounding areas and the overall municipality; price appreciation over the past five years and potential for future growth; and the economic strength of the area combined with WalkScores and Transit scores.


Not just the best neighbourhoods in the Tri-Cities, East Coquitlam was named the entire Greater Vancouver region’s top area to buy a condo, and Mary Hill was placed highest for townhouses overall. (Full Greater Vancouver rankings here.)

Romana King, Zolo’s director of content, said on BTVancouver, “Why? Both areas have great commuter access, great access to the highway by car, great access to the [new] SkyTrain stations around there, great parks. These are great places to raise a family.”

At the other end of the scale, the Citadel neighbourhood in Port Coquitlam was named the “worst” area in the Tri-Cities to buy a condo in 2018, and PoCo’s Riverwood the worst for a townhome. The “worst” means that either the area is not good value compared with other neighbourhoods, or that it has less potential for price growth, or that it is low-priced for a reason, according to Zolo.

King wrote in the report, “Value isn’t synonymous with cheap, especially in real estate. Cheaper housing prices can occur for a variety of reasons — not all of them good. Instead, we wanted to find neighbourhoods that haven’t appreciated as much as surrounding communities but have access to the same amenities and social values as these higher-priced neighbouring ’hoods. In essence, we are looking for affordable, good neighbourhoods that are poised to increase in value.”

Check out the infographic below for Zolo’s top 10 areas on the North Shore to buy either a condo or a townhome, and below that, Zolo’s 10 “worst” North Shore areas to buy a condo or townhome. Do you agree with the results?



Zolo’s 10 Worst Neighbourhoods to Buy a Condo in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam & Port Moody in 2018

  1. Citadel, Port Coquitlam – $1,038,000
  2. Burke Mountain, Coquitlam – $519,900
  3. Scott Creek, Coquitlam – $395,000
  4. Riverwood, Port Coquitlam – $472,938
  5. Heritage Mountain, Port Moody – $672,000
  6. Westwood Plateau, Coquitlam – $503,917
  7. College Park, Port Moody – $330,027
  8. North Shore, Port Moody – $636,243
  9. Eagle Ridge, Coquitlam – $396,456
  10. Canyon Springs, Coquitlam – $415,135

Zolo’s 10 Worst Neighbourhoods to Buy a Townhouse in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam & Port Moody in 2018

  1. Riverwood, Port Coquitlam – $666,116
  2. College Park, Port Moody – $610,356
  3. Woodland Acres, Port Coquitlam – $622,600
  4. Birchland Manor, Port Coquitlam – $503,968
  5. Burke Mountain, Coquitlam – $776,386
  6. Heritage Mountain, Port Moody – $799,063
  7. North Shore, Port Moody – $513,983
  8. Ranch Park, Coquitlam – $578,571
  9. Citadel, Port Coquitlam – $545,407
  10. Maillardville, Coquitlam – $545,407




Kitchen renovation has greatest potential to boost a property’s sale price

Prospective sellers likely to spend less than 2.5% of a home’s value on home improvement

According to a cross-Canada survey of over 750 Royal LePage real estate experts, a kitchen renovation is the clear upgrade of choice with the potential to boost a property’s value by more than 12.5 per cent.[1] Both ranking second, a finished basement or a new bathroom has the potential to increase a property’s value between 2.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, depending on the investment.

“To financially benefit from a home improvement project, you need to keep potential homebuyers in mind,” said Tom Storey, real estate agent, Royal LePage Signature Realty. “While updating a kitchen should increase your sale price, a pool can actually deter families with young children or those who are looking for less maintenance.”

Adding a pool or deck is considered the least worthwhile renovation to increase a property’s value with pricing potential limited to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the value of the home.

For Canadians looking for more general guidance on where to focus their home projects, the vast majority of surveyed experts recommended interior renovations (95.0%) over exterior renovations (5.0%).

“Curb appeal is important but more time is spent indoors at the open house and that is where buyers typically fall in love with a home,” added Storey. “When renovating with the potential to sell, the most important thing to remember is to use colours and materials that are popular and not too personal.”

The survey showed that prospective sellers are willing to invest less than 2.5 per cent of a property’s value on home renovations prior to listing their home, which represents an investment of up to $15,138 on a property valued at $605,512[2] – the current median home price in Canada.

When asked which generation is the most likely to renovate their home, 45.1 per cent of surveyed experts said baby boomers, as many are planning to sell and downsize. They are also most likely to have the funds needed for a significant renovation.

“Baby boomers run the risk of their property selling for a lower price or languishing on the market for longer than expected if they held their property for a long period of time without updating periodically,” said Storey. “Although many buyers can see themselves making home improvements themselves, its very hard for a buyer to get excited or imagine living in a space that is run down or the decor reflects another generation.”

Popular Home Improvements

Rank Project Potential increase to home’s selling price Respondents
1 Kitchen Greater than 12.5% 54.7%
2 Bathroom Between 2.5% and 12.5% 50.8%
2 Finished basement Between 2.5% and 12.5% 60.0%
4 Eco-upgrades (ie, windows, heating) Less than 10.0% 60.0%
4 Basement apartment Less than 10.0% 55.2%
6 Landscaping Less than 7.5% 60.2%
6 Interior painting Less than 7.5% 60.2%
8 Exterior painting Less than 5.0% 54.9%
9 Deck Less than 2.5% 55.0%
9 Pool Less than 2.5% 66.4%


About the home renovations ROI survey

The Royal LePage Home Improvement Survey polled 766 real estate advisors from across Canada, between June 20, 2018 and June 25, 2018. Each respondent was asked to complete an online survey composed of 8 questions on the value of popular home improvements.


B.C. home sales forecast revised, predicted to drop 17.7%

Prediction of 2018 total sales decline gets steeper, but prices will keep rising, according to CREA


It’s not looking good for total B.C. home sales this year compared with last year, according to a forecast by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

With a slow start to the year, the association had previously predicted an 11 per cent decline in B.C. resale transactions in 2018 compared with 2017. But with an even weaker spring market than expected, this figure has now been revised to a 17.7 per cent annual decrease.

That’s the sharpest predicted decline of all the provinces and territories, with Ontario following at an expected 15.9 per cent drop.

Despite B.C.’s expected weak sales performance in 2018, average sale prices across the province are predicted to continue to rise, by 3.4 per cent this year. CREA said B.C. sale prices will then rise a further 1.8 per cent in 2019 to an average of $747,100.

Source: CREAAcross the country as a whole, home sales on the MLS are expected to drop 11 per cent this year compared with 2017, which is also a bigger decline than the previously predicted 7.1 per cent.

Quebec and Nova Scotia are now the only two provinces expected to see home sales increase this year, compared with last year.Canada’s sale prices are expected to drop 2.1 per cent in 2018, taking the average price of a home sold this year just below the $500,000 mark. The average price is then expected to increase in 2019 by 3.8 per cent, said CREA.


Five Ways To Make Your Home A More Positive Place

Here are five inspiring and easy ways to transform your home into a more positive place that helps you attract the things you really want.


1. Get Rid Of General Clutter

Firstly, if you maintain a cluttered home, you tell the universe that you have no room in your life for anything new. To underline your intentions, go through your house and get rid of things you no longer want or need.

As you create space in your closets and drawers, you create space in your daily routine to manifest your goals.

While you might dread the process of cleaning out old junk, it can actually be a very cathartic process that keeps your attention focused on the future.


2. Dedicate An Area To Your Dreams

Use your intuition to a select an area of your home that can be dedicated to your efforts to use the Law of Attraction. One thing you might do is place your most comfortable chair there and always choose to do your creative visualizations in that place.

If you’d like to create something more elaborate, you can set up an altar of sorts and use it to host items that represent your dreams and goals.

For example, if you’re looking for romance then you might place a quartz stone there as a symbol of love, and you might add a picture that represents your dream relationship.

It doesn’t matter what you place in this area as long as it makes you feel positive and confident about the future.


3. Apply Feng Shui Color Theory


According to Feng Shui, colors are linked to particular emotions. To boost positivity in your home, get rid of dark and neutral colors that may lower energy levels and make you feel melancholy. If you’re redecorating, you’ll want to focus on paint, wallpaper, carpets and accessories that enhance energy and promote happiness.

For example, pastel shades of green and yellow connect you to the beauty of the sun and grass. However, even accessories in these colors can make a difference to the mood in your house.


4. Remove Reminders Of Past Negativity

It is tempting to hold onto reminders of the past, but they can actually act as a barrier between you and the things you want to attract. In particular, mementos and photographs that relate to a previous job or partner can make it harder to use the Law of Attraction to revitalize your career or love life.

You can often find a good use for such items, giving them to thrift stores or friends. However, if you really can’t stand the idea of parting with all of your mementos, at least consider placing them somewhere out of sight and out of mind (such as the attic or in a closet that you don’t use).

The main thing you want to do is avoid subconsciously holding on to a past that is actually holding you back.


5. Visualize Change In Your Home

Finally, you can also try a new creative visualization exercise that specifically focuses on how your home will change once you attract the things you want. If you’re working to attract prosperity, picture all of the wonderful things you will buy or how you will remodel the house.

Meanwhile, if you’re yearning for love then start imaging the places that your new partner will sit or how it will feel to let them share your bed. Build these mental pictures up in exquisite detail, and visualize them once a day for at least 5-10 minutes.


Reasonable Doubt: Divorcing couples surprised by property division in hot real-estate market

The hot Vancouver real-estate market in recent years has created a unique situation for separating couples who own property during the relationship and must now divide their property. People are often surprised when they seek legal advice and learn how their property—specifically, real property that has increased significantly in value during and after the relationship—is divided according to family law in British Columbia.

Family property includes property that you or your spouse owned on the date you separate, regardless of whose name the property is registered in. This is often one fact that surprises people, as many people assume that their ex can only receive a share of the property if their name is on the title.

Some properties are not considered family property and are called “excluded property”. Excluded property includes property that one spouse owned before the relationship started—however, the increase in value of the excluded property during the relationship is family property and will be subject to division.

So, for example, if one party owned property prior to the relationship and the property was valued at $100,000 at the beginning of the relationship, the $100,000 is excluded property. However, if the property increased in value during the relationship to, say, $200,000, the $100,000 increase in value will be divided equally between the parties.

How family property is valued is also particularly surprising to many people, because it is often assumed that the value of the property to be divided between the parties is based on the value of the property on the date they separate. However, the law mandates that the value of each party’s interest in the property is determined at the date of trial or the date that the two parties reach a settlement.

The problem is that it could take months or years for parties to settle or to wait for a trial date. In most separations, one party moves out and the other party lives in the property and pays all of the expenses related to the home, such as the mortgage, property taxes, utilities, etcetera. The party remaining in the home often assumes that if the property increases in value, they should be the one to enjoy the increase since they alone made all the financial contributions to the property post-separation.

However, this is not how the law works. In addition to any increase in value during the relationship, the party who moved out of the home is also entitled to half of the increase of value of the property between the time the parties separate and whenever the parties settle their case or go to trial.

There are many situations in recent years where a family-law case does not settle or does not proceed to trial for three or more years and meanwhile the property value has increased by more than $500,000. This means that if one party wants to keep the property and buy out the other party’s interest in the property, the buyout payment would have been far lower if they had reached settlement sooner.

Here are some tips for individuals who are facing the type of situation described above:

  • Work with the other party to settle how your property and debt will be divided as soon as possible. Do not assume that the other party will not start court proceedings simply because they have cut off communications with you or did not express any initial interest in pursuing property registered in your name. Parties have two years to start court proceedings. As a family lawyer, I have come across many clients who assumed they would not hear from their exes again after their ex moved out, only to be served with court papers making a claim against their property just a month prior to the two-year limitation date.
  •  Make sure you seek legal advice and have the settlement terms detailed in a separation agreement or court order. Similar to the point above, many people assume that a verbal agreement to not pursue property division is sufficient, only to be surprised many months later when their ex starts court proceedings respecting their property.
  •  If you are paying expenses related to the property, keep a record, along with documents such as bank statements and receipts, of all expenses you paid for after you separated, such as mortgage payments, renovation and repair costs, property taxes, etc.
  •  If the property is registered solely in your ex’s name and you have not reached an agreement regarding property division with your ex, you can protect your interest in the family home by either starting a court action to register a certificate of pending litigation against the title of the property or by registering a Land (Spouse Protection) Act charge on the property. What this does is prevent your ex from remortgaging the property or selling the property without notifying you.

Property- and debt-division issues can be complicated and there may be much to gain or lose. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice—even if you do not intend on hiring a lawyer to represent you long-term—to get a clear understanding of your rights and have a clear strategy for protecting your property interests.

by Nancy Chen
Nancy Chen practises family law at Catalyst Legal LLP.

Province to shine light on ‘hidden owners’ of B.C. real estate

Publicly accessible ownership registry aims to reveal individuals behind shell companies and trusts.


A new public registry will aim to reveal the “true ownership” of real estate in B.C. – and ensure appropriate taxes are paid – by creating transparency over the individuals behind property-owning shell companies and trusts, the province announced June 20.

As part of its 30-point housing plan, which has seen the launch of a number of new taxation policies, the NDP government plans to establish the publicly accessible database of all real estate ownership across the province.


The registry, said the government, will be the first of its kind in Canada and will “help give tax auditors, law enforcement agencies and federal and provincial regulators the information they need to conduct their investigations.”

“British Columbia has developed a reputation as an attractive place to anonymously invest and hide wealth. Right now in B.C., real estate investors can hide behind numbered companies, offshore and domestic trusts, and corporations,” said finance minister Carole James in a media statement. “Ending this type of hidden ownership in real estate will help us fight tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering. Our goal is to return fairness to the housing market.”


Realtor Barry Magee, who is based in Vancouver, said he strongly supported the move. “In 2018, when accurate statistics are desperately needed for those debating our housing issues, it’s of ultimate importance for British Columbians to know who owns property. Purchasing through a numbered company was eliminated in Ontario in 1983, and B.C. has the unfortunate distinction of being the only province to allow purchasers to use this method to skirt the owner registering with land titles and also avoiding paying property transfer tax. This is a no-brainer: eliminate the bare trust loophole and require any purchases made using this method in the past to register the owner of the property with land titles.”

The province’s proposal, which includes proposed new legislation called the draft land owner transparency act, is set out in a white paper. The new law, which would have to be passed in the legislature, would “authorize the collection of beneficial ownership information, as well as the creation and administration of the public registry.”

B.C. residents can share their comments on the white paper until August 19, 2018, by emailing

Other aspects of the province’s 30-point plan that aim to tackle tax evasion and close real estate loopholes include a proposal to track pre-sale condo contract assignments, otherwise known as “shadow flipping,” sharing information on the homeowner grant with federal tax officials and setting up a federal-provincial task force on tax fraud and money laundering.