Real estate buying tips for seniors

by John Tenpenny02 Oct 2015
With real estate prices as high as they’ve ever been, many seniors are trying to decide what to do with their homes. B.C. Notaries are offering them tips, ones that may also be helpful for real estate agents, who are increasingly dealing with older clients who want  to capitalize on the worth of their homes and downsize.

“There are several good resources available which provide more information for busy baby boomers who might be downsizing or moving into a strata property for the first time,” said Richmond notary public Tammy Morin Nakashima, as The Society of Notaries Public of BC marked National Seniors’ Day on Oct. 1.

Among the things the Society recommends for seniors is knowing the strata laws before you buy and considering home swapping to save on property transfer taxes.

For many boomers looking to downsize, strata properties are a popular choice. If you’re considering a strata property, make sure you read and understand the strata minutes and bylaws, particularly on the topics of noise, pets, smoking and parking, which are the most frequent points of concern in many strata communities.

People who’ve owned freehold properties for most of their lives may not be accustomed to some of the expectations of strata living, so it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the rules before you make a purchase.

Another little-known tip is a provision in the Property Transfer Tax Act that eliminates the requirement for this tax when a principal residence is transferred between related individuals, including a parent and child. This means parents and children could “swap” homes, or a child could move into and purchase a parent’s home without paying property transfer tax if the parent moves on to supported housing without paying property transfer tax, if specific guidelines, are met.

Still, the lure of renting is another factor seniors ar considering as they downsize. That's working to the advantage of landlords in sought-after neighbourhoods and offering upscale accomodations.

"We pamper our tenants while they're with us," Jack Gibney, an investor/landlord in Toronto's trendy West end tells CREW. "Tenants at that price point expect that trouble-free type apartment and they're willing to pay for it."

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