Blog › July 2017

How Your Credit Score Affects How Much House You'll Be Able To Buy...


credit score


Your credit score is now the most important factor in determining how much house you can buy, so if you are in the market for a new home, you need to understand how it affects you.

To make it easy for mortgage companies to determine the risk of lending to you, they are using a system called credit scoring (also called "FICO" scores).

When lenders look at your credit report, they can instantly see how much debt you have, how reliable you are with bill payments, and if you've had any credit problems within the last several years.

With your credit report, lenders get a "credit score" which takes all of this information and boils it down to a number. The higher the number, the less of a credit risk you are seen to be, and this is how lenders decide which types of loans you will be eligible for.

To be eligible for some types of loans, you require a minimum credit score without any exceptions. And credit scores fluctuate over time. In fact, the mere act of applying for credit can lower your credit score.

To maximize your credit score, you should avoid applying for any new credit cards or consumer loans.

Don't go to a big box retailer and take them up on the "No interest, no payments for one year" offer.

Avoid financing a new or used automobile. If possible pay down or pay off existing automobile loans and lines of credit prior to applying for a mortgage loan

That's why it's best to wait until after you've bought your home and moved in to go shopping for furniture and appliances. Buying things on credit prior to home purchase has the potential to hurt your credit score.

By understanding how lending institutions work, you can get the best credit score possible, which improves the odds that you can get the home of your dreams.

Property Taxes 101


property taxes


Home owners received their annual property tax notice in June. Property taxes are due the first or second business day in July, depending on the municipality.


No tax notice?

Property owners who didn’t receive a tax notice should contact their municipal finance department to get a duplicate notice. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to ensure a municipality has the correct mailing address.

New property owners who didn’t receive a tax notice, or received a tax notice with the previous owners’ name(s) on it, should:

  • contact the BC Land Title and Survey Authority at 604-630-9630 for a Certificate of Title to prove ownership; and 
  • complete the Home Owner Grant application.

Property taxes must be paid and the Home Owner Grant claimed by the due date to avoid late penalties.


Reduce your taxes with the Home Owner Grant

The BC Home Owner Grant Program helps reduce residential property taxes for Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are permanent residents and whose home is their principal residence.

Seven types of grants

1.  Basic Home Owner Grant – up to $570 for qualifying home owners. For 2017, the grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed or partitioned value over $1.6 million. It’s eliminated on homes assessed at $1.714 million in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Capital regional districts, and $1.754 million in a northern or rural area.

2.  Home Owner Grant for Seniors – an additional grant up to $275 for qualifying home owners age 65+. The total basic and additional grant amounts add up to $845 (or $1,045 in northern and rural areas). The grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1.6 million and eliminated on properties assessed at over $1.769 million ($1.809 million in northern and rural areas).

If any additional grant amount has been reduced or eliminated due to the $1.6 million threshold, property owners may be eligible for the low income grant supplement. Apply for the home owner grant and the low income grant supplement separately.

3.  Home Owner Grant for Veterans – most veterans can apply for the home owner grant as a person under 65, a senior or a person with a disability. Veterans with an adjusted net income of $32,000 or less may qualify for the low income grant supplement. A surviving spouse of a veteran may qualify for a low-income grant supplement.

4.  Home Owner Grant for People with Disabilities – home owners who are disabled or have a disabled spouse or relative living with them in a principal residence may qualify for this grant.

5.  Grant for deceased home owner – a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister of the estate of a property owner whose death occurred in the current year and who would have qualified for the home owner grant, can apply to receive the home owner grant for a property that is still registered in the name of a deceased owner or in the name of the executor or administrator of their estate, if you meet the qualification requirements.

6.  Multiple Home Owner Grant – multiple Home Owner Grants can be claimed by the owner on eligible buildings or land. Eligible buildings must be one of the following:

    • a housing co-operative building;
    • a housing corporation building;
    • a housing society building; or
    • a provincially designated apartment building.

Eligible land must be a land co-operative or a multi-dwelling leased parcel. The owner of an eligible building, land co-operative, or multi-dwelling leased parcel must pass on the benefit of the grant to each eligible occupant.

7.  Retroactive Home Owner Grant – For qualifying home owners, a retroactive grant may be approved for the previous year only. Home owners must:

  • apply in writing for an extension on or after January 1 and before December 31 in the year following the year the owner didn’t apply for the grant; and
  • complete an application form with documentation supporting residency and providing reasons for missing the deadline.

The municipal tax collector, or in rural areas the Surveyor of Taxes, will forward the application to the Home Owner Grant Administration Office. If approved the Home Owner Grant  Administration Office will pay the grant.

Claim the Home Owner Grant

Property owners eligible for the Home Owner Grant must:

  • complete the application on the bottom of the property tax notice or online through the municipality’s Electronic Home Owner Grant (eHOG) service (where available).
  • sign it; and
  • return it to the local municipality by the close of business on the tax payment deadline day.

If a property owner doesn’t claim the Home Owner Grant or incorrectly completes the application or fails to claim the grant, the owner will pay a penalty, typically 5%, on the outstanding property tax balance. If there’s still a balance owing on January 1 of 2018, daily interest may also be charged.


How to pay property taxes

Check the due date on your tax notice, complete the Home Owner Grant application, and then pay by:

  • mail (must be received by the due date);
  • at a financial institution;
  • at city hall in person or use the city hall drop box;
  • through a mortgage (check with your lender)
  • by installments through the municipality;
  • online at (for municipalities subscribing to this service); or
  • by using the municipality’s own online payment system, if one is available.

Each municipality may have several ways to pay. Check with the property tax department to determine which is the most convenient for you. Make sure to understand the terms and conditions for each method.

No credit card payments

Municipalities don’t take credit card payments for property tax and utility payments due to significant service charges from credit card companies.


Deferring taxes

Property owners may be eligible to defer taxes under the BC Property Tax Deferment Program, a low-interest loan program that lets qualifying property owners defer part, or all, of their property taxes on their principal residence.

There are two programs:

1.  Regular deferment for property owners age 55 and older, surviving spouses, or persons with a disability.

2.  Families with children deferment program.

A home owner with a mortgage can defer property taxes but must maintain a minimum of 25% equity in the property. All charges registered against the property (outstanding mortgage, credit lines) plus the deferred property tax can't amount to more than 75% of the assessed value.

The property owner must have current fire insurance on the home and all other buildings, otherwise equity will be based on the assessed value of the land only.

The Province will not accept deferment applications for properties on leased land. Visit the BC Ministry of Finance website for details.