There are several useful real estate resources available to the general public.
The ones listed on this page are free to use, unless otherwise specified.|
Realtor.ca : Canada has a Multiple Listing Service (commonly called the MLS). The MLS allows people to search for properties that are in their price range in a selected town, city, or island. Searches can be refined for number of bedrooms or bathrooms. You can search for homes, raw land, or commercial properties.
Not all properties are on the MLS, owners sometimes choose not to have their property on the MLS. These are called "Exclusive Listings" and you need to contact a local realtor, such as Li Read, for information on these type of properties.
Note: The MLS website can be confusing to a first time user.
BC Assessments : BC Assessments is responsible for calculating property values for property tax purposes, which are due on or about July 2nd of each year.
You can get the tax assessed value, the property taxes payable, for the most recent year available, for any property in British Columbia, if you have the property address or property identification number (PID).
The report will also provide the legal description and the property identification number (PID), both can be useful for using the services listed on this page.
Note #1: The tax assessed value is different from the market value, the price that a property could be bought or sold for.
Note #2: In British Columbia, there is a Home Owner's Grant, where if you are a Canadian Citizen, own the property, and use it as a principal residence, the grant will reduce the amount payable from that shown on the tax report. There is an additional grant for Seniors.
Capital Regional District (CRD) : British Columbia, from the point of providing government services to the public, is divided into regions called Districts.
Each District is responsible for maintaining public infrastructure, providing water, sewer, garbage removal, and much more in its area.
From a real estate perspective, the CRD issues building permits, issues the various permits needed during construction (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc), and finally the occupancy permit. The occupancy permit means the building has reached a stage where it is habitable.
CRD Regional Map : The Capital Regional District (CRD) offers a mapping function that shows the boundaries of any property on the Southern Gulf Islands, the Saanich Peninsula, or Victoria.
You can also view the property and its boundaries via satellite images. Topographical maps are also available.
All you need is the property address. In the search box, enter the street address, followed by a comma, followed by the town, city, or island. Adjust the zoom factor until the map shows the street numbers.
TIP: when entering the street number into the search box, use the number keys above the letter keys. Using the ones to the right of the letter keys may or may not work.
You can also get the legal descriptions and PID using this service.
The Islands Trust : The Islands Trust controls zoning and densities for the Southern Gulf Islands. You can get the zoning for any property in the Southern Gulf Islands.
The Islands Trust also decides which properties are eligible for subdivision.
The Islands Trust also issues the Offical Community Plans, and the Development Permit Areas, for each Gulf Island.
The Islands Trust provides maps for learning the zoning of any property in its area. You will need the plan number and the lot number from the legal description (section number, if available, can also be useful).
As an example, view the Zoning maps for Salt Spring Island. Zoning maps are in PDF format.
To learn what you can do with a particular zoning, click on "Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw No. 335", and then do a document search for the particular zoning.
It is generally a good idea to consult the Islands Trust, before purchasing a property, if you might want to:
- change the zoning
- add significant additional accessory buildings : guest cottage, guest studio, garage, workshop, barn
- run a B&B or similar venture
Residential Tenancy Office, British Columbia : If you are, or are planning to be, a landlord or a tenant in British Columbia, you should visit this site. Site provides information on the rights and obligations of both landlord and tenant, and provides the necessary forms, either might need.
BC Archaeology Service : When developing or altering a property in British Columbia, it is important not to disturb First Nations archaeological sites such as burial sites. The BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources offers a free service to get a report on any KNOWN First Nations site(s) on any property in BC.
Once you click on the link above, click on "BC Archaeological Data Request Form" in the middle of the paragraph. Fill it out and in one to four weeks, you will be emailed a report on the property of interest.
You will need the property's address, legal description, and PID. You also need to have a valid reason for needing the information: you are the owner, the Realtor listing the property, a buyer or buyer's agent with an offer on the property, or an archaeological expert hired by the owner.
The rule of thumb on the Gulf Islands is that unless you own oceanfront, you probably will not have archaeological issues with a property. However there can always be exceptions.
Groundwater Well Search : Many properties on the Southern Gulf Islands get their drinking water from a groundwater well.
The results of this Groundwater Well Search will give you information such as gallons per minute, type of well, and more.
You need at least one of the following:
- The Well Tag Number or Well Identification Plate Number
- the street address
- the Property Identification Number (PID)
- owner's lastname
Before February 29, 2016, registering a well with the government was optional. Hence this search may not be able to provide information on wells installed before that date. Wells installed after that date should be registered, and so the search should yield results.
Homeowner Protection Office : The Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) is a branch of BC Housing, a provincial Crown agency, and is responsible for licensing residential builders and building envelope renovators province-wide and administering owner builder authorizations.
If you are thinking of building or renovating your home, and doing the work yourself, you need to visit this site.
A quote from the Real Estate Council of BC explains why:
"Before a property owner builds their own home, or substantially reconstructs their own home, they must apply for an Owner Builder Authorization from the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO). Then, they must occupy their home themselves for the first year following construction. During that year, the home can't be sold or rented. After the first year, and for the next ten years, any prospective buyers must receive an Owner Builder Disclosure Notice - whether they are buying the home from the owner-builder, or from subsequent owners. Before listing a property or before assisting a client to make an offer on a property, as a licensee, you have a responsibility to take appropriate steps to ensure that a home can be legally sold. Owner-builders who sell homes before the one year occupancy period has ended, or who don't provide the Owner Builder Disclosure Notice to buyers, can face legal proceedings under the Homeowner Protection Act. And licensees could face an investigation and potential discipline for not acting in the best interests of their clients."