Mortgage rates in British Columbia
British Columbia has one of the largest mortgage industries in Canada. The rapid rise of real estate prices in urban centers, such as Vancouver, has attracted much investment in residential and commercial real estate in the province.
The big Canadian banks of BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust all have a strong presence in British Columbia. Together these banks service most of the mortgage market in the province.
BC also has regional credit unions and monoline lenders that compete with the big national banks. Credit unions such as Vancity and Coast Capital offer great mortgage rates to their customers while establishing themselves as local financial services brands that residents in British Columbia can rely on for their banking needs.
Average mortgage rates in BC are lower compared to rates in other Canadian provinces. The growth of real estate prices in BC has given way to a competitive market of banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, and monoline lenders, all competing to attract mortgage customers.
What's the difference between fixed rate and variable rate mortgages in British Columbia?
Fixed rate mortgages give you financial peace of mind. Your interest rate will be locked in for the duration of your mortgage term. Should your mortgage lender change their prime lending rates, your mortgage payments won't change.
On the other hand, the interest rate on variable rate mortgages float freely. Currently, interest rates are low, making variable rate mortgages attractive to cost-conscious borrowers. However, if you do get a variable rate mortgage, you take on the risk that your borrowing costs could rise should your mortgage lender increase their prime lending rates.
In Vancouver, variable rate mortgages account for almost 29.6% of all mortgages. The high percentage of variable rate mortgages, in Vancouver, could be explained by homebuyers looking for the cheapest borrowing cost in the most expensive real estate market in Canada.
Outside of Vancouver, almost 18% of mortgages are variable rate loans, which is still lower than the national average of 21%.
What's the difference between open term and closed term mortgages in British Columbia?
Getting a closed term mortgage means that you'll be limited in your capacity to make prepayments (extra payments) towards your mortgage balance. If you exceed the prepayment limits, dictated in your mortgage contract, your mortgage lender can charge you a prepayment penalty.
Open term mortgages offer unlimited flexibility to make prepayments on your mortgage, without penalty. However, the added flexibility does come with higher interest rates. Because of the higher borrowing costs, on open term mortgages, most mortgages in BC are closed term.
Closed term mortgages in British Columbia range in term lengths of 6 months to 10 years. Whereas open term mortgages are usually limited to shorter periods of 1 year or less.
British Columbia property transfer tax
When you purchase property in British Columbia, you are required to pay a provincial land transfer tax. The BC property transfer tax is calculated as:
- 1% on the value of the property up to and including $200,000
- 2% of the value of the property greater than $200,000, and less than and including $2,000,000
- 3% of the value of the home that exceeds $2,000,000
- On residential properties, a further 2% tax on the value of the home that exceeds $3,000,000
To illustrate the BC property transfer tax, suppose the purchase price of your home is $700,000. The provincial land transfer tax would be as follows:
- $2,000 tax on the first $200,000
- $10,000 tax on the amount from $200,000.01 to $700,000
The total property transfer tax payable in this scenario would be $12,000.
First-time homebuyers property transfer tax rebate
If you qualify as a first-time homebuyer, in British Columbia, you're eligible for a land transfer tax rebate. You can receive a full land transfer tax rebate if the fair market value of your purchase is less than $500,000. If your purchase is between $500,000 and $525,000, you're eligible for a partial rebate.
To receive the first-time homebuyer land transfer tax rebate, your property purchase must be used as your principal place of residence. It also must be less than 0.5 hectares in size or smaller.
You can only apply for the rebate between 12 and 18 months after registering your property with the Land Title Office. To apply for the land transfer tax rebate, you must do so electronically with the British Columbia Ministry of Finance or by completing an application form and emailing it to the ministry at PTTENQ@gov.bc.ca.
Newly Built Home Exemption
If you are purchasing a newly built home in British Columbia, you may be eligible for the BC newly built home exemption which provides a full or partial rebate of your property transfer tax. To qualify for this exemption, the fair market value of your purchase must be less than $800,000.
For purchase values of less than $750,000, you can receive a full property transfer tax rebate. For amounts between $750,000 and $800,000, you'll receive a partial refund depending on the fair market value of the purchase.
British Columbia housing market
British Columbia's housing market has seen dramatic price appreciation over the last decade, especially in its largest city, Vancouver. Outside of Vancouver, homeownership rates are 69%, which is higher than the national average of 62.8%.
Vancouver housing market
With a population of 2.2 million people, Vancouver is the 3rd largest city in Canada and the largest city amongst Canada's western provinces. The city is known for its nearby mountains and picturesque waterfront. It also has a milder climate compared to other cities in Canada.
The natural beauty and access to nature have attracted people from all over Canada and the world who wish to make Vancouver home. This influx of people has led to real estate prices being pushed up to historical levels over the last decade.
Housing prices in Vancouver are amongst one of the fastest appreciating in the world, leading many economists to believe Vancouver's housing market is a bubble.
The average price of a detached house in Vancouver was about $700,000 in 2009. By 2020 the average price had risen to over $1.3 million.
The high cost of owning a home in Vancouver has priced many local residents out of the real estate market. Only about 55.8% of Vancouver residents own their own homes. The low ownership rates are primarily attributed to the high cost of real estate in the city.
British Columbia mortgage brokers
Mortgage brokers act as an intermediary between mortgage lenders and people looking to borrow funds to finance a real estate purchase. Brokers can help individuals save time and find them a competitive mortgage rate from the network of lenders they work with.
Mortgage brokers in British Columbia are regulated by the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). Anyone who wishes to become a mortgage broker in BC must complete a mandated course and pass an exam. They must also work for a regulated mortgage brokerage and have their own broker license registered with the BCFSA.
About British Columbia
With 5.1 million residents, British Columbia is the 3rd largest province in Canada by population. BC's economy is diversified amongst many different sectors and industries, making it the 4th largest economy amongst all Canadian provinces.