BC Real Estate on Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley
Board Areas within the Comox Valley
This part of the website provides information on British Columbia real estate. It focuses on that which falls within the purview of the Vancouver Island Board and located within the Comox Valley. Real estate in the valley is divided, for statistical purposes into both areas and communities. Our market is divided up into smaller bits for statistical purposes because trends tend to be local, and sometimes a very local local. For example, trends in a specific area or sector may act differently when it comes to things like sell-to-list ratios, sales, and prices.
BC Real Estate Explained
Now that we have discussed the specific areas that make up our region, let’s discuss some of the concepts that apply to real estate in our province. Real estate is known in law as real property and real property is distinct in law from personal property. For example, a mobile home that is located on its own land is dealt with in law as real property, but a mobile home that is located on a rental pad in a mobile home park is dealt with in law as personal property. The first mobile home may be reflected on the title for the land and a person buying it can apply for a mortgage. The second mobile home should be registered in the mobile home registry but a person buying it cannot apply for a conventional mortgage because it falls within the provisions of the Personal Property Security Act. The BC Real Estate Services Act governs the sale of real estate in BC. Does all of this sound confusing? Why discuss these examples? The reason is simple. This is a highly regulated industry and it is important to understand what laws apply to real property and which ones do not.
Real property has a number of characteristics that are fairly unique. First, the land upon which real property sits is immobile. This characteristic of immobility is the reason for the often voiced phrase “location, location, location” when it comes to the purchase of property. Location is very important and this characteristic is responsible for the local nature of our markets. Very often transactions in one localized area can have little or no impact or relevance on those within a different localized area. Having said this, neither area is completely isolated from the broader economic conditions affecting the region or the country. A localized area can also be affected by changes that take place nearby. For example, if a coal mining plant is relocated near a single family or a water tower is erected nearby, the changes will affect the value of the home. Location is very important in determining values of improved land. As a result, it is important to know what currently exists and to find out what is planned in a specific area when a person is considering the purchase of real estate.
The durability of improved land is another characteristic. While land lasts forever (barring some major natural disaster that may destroy it), the value of the land does not and the structures that are placed on the land have a finite life. The life of structures are measured in physical terms as well as economic terms. Buildings are often demolished and replaced with other types of structures before they have physically worn out to make room for a different type of development.
A third characteristic of real property is called the indivisibility of services. This simply means that the elements of value associated with the land, buildings, and other improvements are thought of as a single unit. Land, when viewed from the perspective of the law of real property, includes the surface of the Earth and all permanent improvements made to it. However, in financial terms (such as property taxes) the land and the buildings on the land are often viewed as distinct.
Divisibility of ownership is a fourth characteristic and it has two meanings. The ownership of a parcel of real estate can be divided both physically and legally. Ownership of land can be divided by creating separate interests in land having either horizontal or vertical boundaries.
Within Canada, the provinces have sole jurisdiction to make laws concerning property. Within British Columbia, there are more than 35 laws that can readily be identified as being applicable to real estate. There are also a significant number of statutory and voluntary organizations that are part of the related industry. Overs the years, this industry has evolved into a very highly one. Historically, our real property law developed based on principles derived from court decisions and those found in legislation. Our law of real property is based on the law of England. English laws, as they existed in 1858 became those of our Province in that year. Over the years there have been many changes to our law and one of the most significant current differences between our real property law and that of England is our land registration system. Our current system is often referred to as a modified “Torrens System”.
When we think of owning land, we think of having unlimited rights to what we buy. This in not exactly the case. When we buy land we are actually buying rights to the land expressed in terms of interests. The “Crown” (government) actually owns the land and this is why land can be expropriated by the government. The government has other rights to land as well. Gold and silver subsurface rights to land were originally reserved in favour of the Crown, and other based minerals other than coal have been expressively reserved since 1897. Coal and petroleum have been reserved since 1899 and gas since 1951. There are other rights as well. For example, in British Columbia, all water except ground water if the property of the government. This is why a water license is required to be entitled to use surface water such as that in a lake being used for the water source in a home.
BC Real Estate laws continue to evolve. The BC Real Estate Services Act and the Real Estate Development Marketing Act came into force in 2005 and the law of Agency was changed in 2012 to what is now known as Designated Agency. These are but a few of the more recent changes. If, like most of us, your home is your most expensive investment, does it not make sense that you would want to maintain an appreciation of the things that could affect it?
Having an understanding of real estate law is important to those working in the real estate industry. Also important is having a good understanding of the real estate market within which the person works. To do this each real estate board such as the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, maintains and publishes real estate market statistics.
Want to know more about real estate in BC? Want to know more about our real estate industry or local market? Want to buy or sell real estate in our local market? Contact Brett for more information and he will be pleased to help you meet your real estate needs in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
About the Author