Alberta vs. BC: 6 Major Things Albertans Need to Know When Buying in the Vernon BC

People from all areas and all walks of life are moving to Vernon these days, as evidenced by the real estate boom and resulting population growth.  Moving from a different province though can carry some challenges that a newcomer should be aware of.  

Our neighbouring province, Alberta, has some major differences when it comes to buying and selling real estate. Here are 6 major factors that Albertans should know when considering buying real estate in the Okanagan.

  • Taxes: The most unpopular aspect of buying in BC is the increased taxes.  You are likely aware there is a 7% provincial sales tax as soon as you cross the border.  However, did you know that although this 7% provincial tax isn’t technically charged on real estate purchases, all purchases are subject to the Property Transfer Tax?  In essence, a provincial tax on real estate is the big one to beware of. Anyone who purchases property in BC, unless you qualify as an exempt first-time buyer (in which case you need to live in BC for 12 consecutive months plus never owned a house before, among other qualifications),  is subject to a transfer tax of 1% on the first $200,000, 2% between $200,000 and $2,000,000 and then 3%  over $2,000,000.    For Albertans paying 0% real estate purchase tax in their home province, this can be quite a shock!  Be sure to take this into account when calculating your real estate purchase budget. On the bright side, please note there is NO speculation tax in Vernon or Coldstream or the North Okanagan Regional District at the time of writing (Feb 2021) 
  • RPR’s Do Not Exist:  The second major thing is you must be aware that Real Property Reports (RPR’s as they are fondly known in Alberta) do not exist.  These RPR’s with City compliance are mandatory in Alberta, however do not exist in BC.   If you wish to know exactly where your property line is, you can enlist the help of a Surveyor to plot those for you, or with any luck, the property owners may have an up to date survey they are willing to share. Is this fence on our property?  Retaining wall?  The best answer in BC is:  Maybe!  This is a province-wide reality and sadly it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.
  • The Home Owner’s Grant:  You may have heard stories about the mystical Home Owners Grant, which doesn’t exist in Alberta.  Money off your property taxes every year?  Seems like a dream come true!  And yes, you will qualify IF you live in BC and the property is your principal residence.  If you buy a vacation property, a second home, and live elsewhere – sadly you do not qualify. If you don’t live in BC and it’s not your principal residence – you pay full pop for your property tax bill on an annual basis. 
  • Strata Depreciation Reports:  These reports are BC’s equivalent of Alberta Reserve Fund Studies for Condominiums and are critical to review for any strata property purchase.
  • Beware the Inversion: Winters are foggy, cloudy, and generally dismal.   Inversions happen when the temperature is cooler at the surface and there is warmer air above.  Vernonites generally don’t say things like: “At least it’s sunny!”  Because it typically isn’t.  It also isn’t 40 below either, so there is a trade-off!  If you want sun, you will need to take a drive to Silver Star Mountain. Then it feels more you’re in your Alberta home – sunny and freezing!  It’s only a 30-minute drive to Silver Star and it’s a beautiful place to hang for the day and catch a few rays.
  • Expecting a Quick Call Back?  Think Again: Quick callbacks are not commonplace in the smaller, more laid back centers of BC. In the major cities in Alberta, there is a hustle and a bustle and a general get-it-done attitude typical of a city’s bigger center. In the Okanagan, people have a tendency to be a little more laid back. Weekends are often precious, which is one of the area’s greatest charms, however often difficult to get used to!

For a quick call back – call RE/MAX Vernon Salt Fowler!  We take our jobs seriously and we give professional service.  Our group consists of a great mixture of Alberta transplants as those people, who weren’t born and raised in the Okanagan yet understand the meaning of urgency. We all take our business and our response time very seriously – we will call you back promptly and we will treat you with the utmost professionalism.  

These are some of the main things that can be shocking to many Albertans who make the Okanagan their home.  But, Vernon’s four seasons of beauty, lack of gridlock, extended golf season, world-class ski resort so close by, and friendly atmosphere make it all worthwhile. Want to know more about living in Vernon? Here are eight reasons to move here! 

We hope that soon we will have the opportunity to welcome you to Vernon!

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