Nova Scotia Deed Transfer Tax

September 26, 2019

The mystery of DTT revealed.  When purchasing a home in Nova Scotia, you as the buyer would most likely be responsible to pay a one-time fee (a percentage of the purchase price) at the time of closing.  Many call this the ‘Welcome to X Tax”, usually accompanied with a sneer or outright disapproval.

ans-property-dtt-rates

As the link above shows, there are two areas in the province of Nova Scotia that have no Deed Transfer Tax, that is the Municipality of the County of Kings and the Town of Kentville.  When purchasing my home this summer, I did factor in this tax when making my final decision on where to buy; I bought in Kentville.

In the course of conversations with potential buyers, I was surprised to learn that a number of those buyers were not aware of the existence of and the rates on this tax in the area they were looking.  Once informed, most of those potential buyers said they would factor that information into their ultimate decision as to where to buy their home.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/a-substantial-revenue-source-but-b-c-s-property-transfer-tax-barely-mentioned-in-campaign-1.4080752

This article above discusses Property Transfer Taxes in BC and discusses tax revenue numbers in one of Canada’s most expensive real estate markets and is dated from 2017.  While the size of the numbers are eye popping, one can argue that these taxes are necessary revenue streams for municipalities stretched thin to deliver services.  One could also argue these taxes, while originally intended to prevent real estate speculation and ballooning prices at the top end of the market, have impacted the first time home buyer the most.  Generally, first timers have less cash on hand and definitely less equity, and find it more difficult to justify a ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ tax.  What is even more of a difficult pill to swallow is that there is very little conversation about it prior to the closing process.  The Vancouver article above talks about taxes assessed on properties costing more than 200k (an amount decided at a time when the average home price in that area was around 150k), but that threshold hasn’t changed since, yet the average price of a home in Vancouver as of 2017 is over a million dollars.

Municipalities seem little interested in addressing this as it has become such a cash-cow, with Vancouver pulling about two billion dollars alone from PTT in 2016/2017.  Thank you to the town of Kentville and Kings County for voting down Deed Transfer Taxes and keeping the interests of home buyers at heart.  For the rest of Nova Scotia, buyers will see additional taxes (due at closing, surprise) ranging from 0.5% to 1.5%.

Several adjustments can be made to this tax scheme, including spreading the tax out over the life of the mortgage or exempting first time home buyers from the tax altogether.  With a federal election fast approaching, the time is right to ask the question of your political candidate.

When you are considering the right place to buy your next home (or your first home), make sure you know the details on this tax and are prepared to shell out the cash at time of closing.