‘It should have been raised years ago’: First-time home buyers program not realistic, says realtor

'It should have been raised years ago': First-time home buyers program not realistic, says realtor

The number of properties for sale on Vancouver Island is up since last year. In Greater Victoria, the increase in inventory and jump in interest rate is slowing down sales, but prices remain relatively unchanged.

“This market is becoming a balanced market and it’s nice to see for a lot of our buyers,” said real estate agent Sophia Briggs with The Agency Oak Bay. “Things aren’t flying off the shelf, you actually have the chance for a second viewing and do a home inspection which is nice.”

Briggs says properties in Greater Victoria are typically staying on the market for 14-30 days now. Real estate experts say what’s helping slow things down is more inventory.

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), there were almost 50 per cent more properties for sale this past June when compared to June of 2021.

“The additional inventory is a positive development for buyers, providing more options and easing the pressure to move too quickly when making an offer,” said VIREB in a news release.

One thing that’s remained relatively unaffected though, are the price tags.

“Prices, we haven’t seen drop off yet,” said Briggs. “And it’s hard to say with Victoria. Victoria is a very destination place. We see a lot of people sell their houses in larger markets and purchase with cash here.”

Also driving the cooling market is the jump in interest rates. But they’re hurting one demographic in particular.

“I think first-time buyers with that interest rate jump hit them hard because they also have to qualify at a certain rate. So it’s tough. Our prices went up, our interest rates have gone up,” said Briggs. “It makes a big difference in your monthly payment.”

First-time buyers are also competing in one area of the market that’s red-hot and rare in Greater Victoria: properties under $500,000.

That’s the maximum price tag for a home that qualifies for the first-time home buyers program, which waives around $8,000 in property transfer taxes at closing for those entering the market for the first time.

Briggs says first time home buyers in Victoria are facing more like $20,000-$25,000 in property transfer taxes based on high property values.

“It should have been increased years ago, years ago,” said Briggs. “It should really be looked at, at our average price point.”

Right now the average property in Greater Victoria is almost $1.4 million. Briggs says because of the region’s high property value and Victoria’s unique micro-climate market, to truly help first-time homeowners, the program should be capped closer to $1,000,000 to better reflect the real prices of properties in Greater Victoria.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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