House Hunting in … Victoria, British Columbia

House Hunting in … Victoria, British Columbia


The kitchen has stainless-steel appliances, black granite counters, wood cabinetry and a separate breakfast nook. Nearby are a double pantry, laundry and powder rooms, and a mudroom that connects to a three-car garage.

The master suite is on the main level, with two walk-in closets, a spacious bathroom with a soaking tub, and an office or den area currently used as a yoga studio. The other bedrooms and baths are on the lower level, along with a large exercise room; all are connected to a sprawling covered patio. A kidney-shaped pool with a slide faces the strait. Nearby is a small structure with a changing room, shower and storage area.

Ten Mile Point is in the city’s Saanich district, which has a population around 114,000. It is about seven miles from downtown Victoria, around three miles from the University of Victoria and less than a mile from the Ten Mile Point Ecological Reserve.

MARKET OVERVIEW

The housing market in Victoria, which consists of 13 municipalities, was weakened after the 2008 global financial crisis. But prices and sales quickly recovered, and the market remained stable before taking off in the last two years, said Ara Balabanian, the managing broker of Macdonald Realty Victoria.

Last year “was just off the charts,” said Mr. Balabanian, who is also president of the Victoria Real Estate Board. He attributed that to a combination of low interest rates, a healthy economy and pent-up demand.

Sales volume is moderately lower so far this year, he said, though prices are up. “It’s still a good, brisk market.”

Most buyers can expect to pay between around 500,000 and 1 million Canadian dollars (or around $400,000 to $800,000) for a single-family home, Mr. Balabanian said, with prices starting in the mid- to high-200,000s (or around $200,000 and up) for a small condominium inland, and as much as 12 million (or $9.6 million) for a waterfront estate.

WHO BUYS IN VICTORIA

Most buyers in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island are Canadian.

“Foreigners are not a driving force in the market,” Mr. Balabanian said. “They make up only about 5 percent.”

Those who do buy real estate in Victoria are usually from the United States or Asia, with a smaller number from Europe, and they are often buying retirement or second homes, he said, though “many Chinese buyers are purchasing condos for their children to go to school; it is a bit of a mix.”

Buyers are drawn to Vancouver Island’s year-round temperate climate, beaches, mountains and terrain, all of which make it a popular tourist destination. And fees are few: A 15 percent property tax on foreign buyers, instituted by British Columbia about a year ago, does not apply to the island (though it does apply to the greater Vancouver area).

BUYING BASICS

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers, although local financing can be difficult to obtain.

“If Americans want to finance a purchase in Canada, they should probably do so through an American lender,” said Michael J. Velletta, the founding partner of Velletta & Company, a law firm in Victoria. “It’s not so easy to establish credit in a foreign country.”

Agents recommend hiring a qualified local lawyer early on in the process to assist in reviewing the contract and to help with due diligence, which includes investigating the title and inspecting the property.

“The land title system in B.C.” — or British Columbia — “is a leading-edge, world-class system: It’s very fast, efficient and accurate,” Mr. Velletta said, adding that real estate transactions are often completed quickly.

WEBSITES

Tourism in British Columbia: hellobc.com

Tourism in Victoria: tourismvictoria.com

Tourism on Vancouver Island: tourismvi.ca

Victoria Real Estate Board: vreb.org

Ten Mile Point: tenmilepoint.com

LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY

English, French; dollar (1 Canadian dollar = $0.80)

TAXES AND FEES

The seller typically pays the sales commission, which on this house is 6 percent of the first 100,000 Canadian dollars of the sale and 3 percent of the balance. Transaction costs for buyers include the home inspection, lawyer fees and other closing expenses.

The buyer also pays a property transfer tax on the sale price, which is 1 percent on the first 200,000 Canadian dollars, 2 percent of the price up to 2 million and 3 percent above 2 million. (If this house sold for its asking price, for example, the tax would total 142,700 Canadian dollars, or around $114,000.)

The annual property taxes on this house are 17,781 Canadian dollars (or about $14,200), Ms. Williams said.

CONTACT

Lisa Williams, Sotheby’s International Canada, 250-380-3933; sothebysrealty.com



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