Albertans need to know...

What Albertans buying in B.C. need to know

Albertans wishing to purchase Vernon real estate must be aware of some distinct and important differences between the two provinces. 

There are four major differences that are noteworthy:

Property Transfer Tax

This is the big one to beware of. Anyone who purchases property in B.C., unless you qualify as an exempt first time buyer (in which case you need to live in B.C. for 12 consecutive months among other qualifications), is subject to a transfer tax of one per cent on the first $200,000, two per cent between $200,000 and $2,000,000 and then three per cent  over $2,000,000.   

For Albertans paying zero per cent in their home province, this can be quite a shock.

RPRs do not exist: 

Residential property reports with city compliance are mandatory in Alberta, but do not exist in B.C.  

If you wish to know exactly where your property line is, you must receive an up-to-date survey from the seller, or hire a surveyor. Is this fence on our property? Best answer in B.C. is: Maybe. 

This is a province-wide reality and sadly it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.

Quick call backs are not commonplace:

In the major cities in Alberta, there is a hustle and a bustle and a general get-it-done attitude.

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.


Winters are foggy, cloudy and generally dismal. We don’t say things like: “At least it’s sunny!” Because it isn’t.

If you want sun, you will need to take a drive to Silver Star Mountain. Then, it feels more like you are in your Alberta home – sunny and really cold.

These are some of the main things that can be shocking to many Albertans who make the Okanagan their home. 

However, Vernon’s four-seasons beauty, lack of gridlock, extended golf season, world-class ski resort so close by, and friendly atmosphere, make it all worthwhile. 

Welcome to Vernon!

Realtors get you best deal

Yay!  I Found My Own Buyer!

In this current market with low inventory and rising pricing, we are hearing more and more tales of those who have been approached by buyers to purchase their homes privately.

Many times this is happening when the seller hasn’t been actively considering selling. This is typical in a market where inventory is low in certain price ranges, and likely will continue throughout this year.  

The possibility of saving the real estate fees is attractive to many, which is typical and understandable.

However, there are numerous pitfalls unsuspecting home sellers should be aware of, and are outlined below.

Selling Too Low:

In a rising market, a seller not in tune with the current market may easily undersell.  The current market is changing daily, especially in key locations. Relying on a tax assessed value, or even an evaluation done by a real estate salesperson a few short months ago, is likely already behind current market values. 

Legal Issues:

Contract law has become extremely complicated when it comes to real estate. Having a poorly written contract can lead to a lost sale at the eleventh hour or worse, a trip to the courthouse after the fact.

Poor Negotiations: 

Negotiating on one’s own behalf is a difficult endeavor, and even more so when their largest investment is on the line. If you are not a trained negotiator, it is tough to get top dollar for your home, especially if the buyer is a tougher negotiator than you are. 

Having a third party to negotiate on your behalf is invaluable when it comes to real estate.

Although saving the fees is an attractive option, if one ends up netting less in their pocket while doing all the work themselves, their mission has not been accomplished well. 

There is always turbulence in real estate sales, and navigating through it is not for the faint of heart. Always contact a professional for advice when dealing with the equity in your home – the risk is just too high. 

Hiring a real estate professional who knows the day-to-day activity in the immediate market area will almost always bring a better result. 

Choose agent with care

How do you choose your listing agent?

Everyone knows a realtor, especially in a smaller city.

Some may know numerous salespeople — a friend of a friend, someone they knew from high school or maybe it’s their wife’s co-worker’s husband.

Many people hire a realtor because they know her, or someone they know, knows them. 

I would caution you to do more research, and take more care in your decision because it is one of the most important you will make. Your home is likely your largest asset. Don’t entrust its sale with just anyone.

When selling your home, most sellers want three things: 

  • to sell their home for the most money
  • in the least amount of time
  • with the least amount of hassle.  

When hiring a real-estate professional to market your home, there are also three important things to consider when making this choice.  

Exposure: A realtor’s marketing plan is extremely important, as this will determine how many eyes see your home. The first sign of a good marketing plan is one that has a balance of print and online marketing, with a reach that goes outside the local area.

The more people viewing your home online, the more showings you will get, and generally the more offers (assuming other factors are in order such as price, etc.).  

Negotiation expertise: When you get an offer on your home, it’s important to have the best negotiator on your side. Dealing with offers can be a stressful time, especially if you are involved with a multiple offer situation. You need cool heads to prevail.

The best way to know if a realtor is a great negotiator is to ask him for his personal statistics that provide proof of how close his listings sell to his list price.  

Local knowledge: Knowledge of listings that have sold in your area is imperative to setting the right list price, as well as knowledge of how to adjust your list price based on the current rising market. A price too high and your home will sit on the market for too long, usually netting less money in your pocket at the end of the day. 

A detailed market evaluation to determine your list price is important.  

Analyzing the above factors when choosing a listing agent will help you make the best decision and ultimately net you more money in your pocket when your sale completes. 

Take the time to do your homework and ensure you treat the decision like any other business decision – not a personal one.

Selling a home? Have a plan

How important is a good — let’s rephrase that and say great — marketing plan in selling your home? 

In reality, the marketing plan is everything. If sticking a sign up on your lawn or putting your home on the MLS were enough, realtors would not exist. And if they did, they certainly wouldn’t be spending any money on marketing the homes they have been hired to represent.

Of course, you can sell a home without marketing. It happens. However, it’s not just about selling your home at any price. Anyone can do that. It’s about selling a home for all it’s worth.

Anyone can give a product away – however only a true sales professional can sell it for top dollar, in a reasonable period of time, and with the least amount of hassle.  

The key to selling for top dollar is exposure. 

This is not only true in real estate, but with any product or service. The more buyers you can attract, the more competition among buyers and the higher the price. Or, the more volume you sell, depending on your ultimate goal. 

Since every home is special – the big box volume selling does not or should not apply. 

The more expansive the exposure for your home, the more buyers are attracted. The more buyers who are attracted to your home, the better opportunity you have to attract more than one buyer at a time – hopefully generating what seller’s desire most: the multiple offer.  

Even if multiple offers are not achieved, with more exposure you still have a better opportunity to attract that one perfect buyer who wants your home very much and is willing to pay a good price for it. 

Either way, the seller achieves the desired result: selling for more money, in less time, with the least amount of hassle.  

Statistics show that by listing your home with a qualified real estate professional, you will net more money in the pocket at the end of the sale than by selling your home on your own. 

Furthermore, hiring a realtor with a poor marketing plan may return similar results. It’s all about the exposure.  When choosing your realtor, ensure they have a solid home selling system that returns consistent, trackable results. 

Your home is likely one of your largest assets – ensure you entrust your home's marketing and ultimate sale with a full time, full service professional and get the return on investment you deserve.

More Just Add Salt! articles

About the Author

Lisa Salt is a Vernon born Realtor® who, along with her husband Gord Fowler from Calgary, lead one of the most successful and dynamic real estate teams in the North Okanagan. 

An international clay target shooting champion, Lisa brought the attributes of hard work and diligent focus to the real estate industry to create the success she and her team have today. 

To experience the local knowledge and expertise that only someone born and raised in the Okanagan can offer, call Lisa today and 'Just Add Salt'.

Website link:   http://www.saltfowler.com

Contact e-mail address:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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