Town, county proposing to double deed transfer tax

Monique Chiasson
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Real estate representatives say now is not the time for an increase

TRURO - Local homebuyers may soon have to pay twice as much for a deed transfer tax.
"This could be the straw that breaks the camel's back," Todlynn MacPherson, associate broker at Royal LePage Truro Real Estate, said in a news release. "With already increased tax rates and assessments ... our fear is that many new buyers will not be able to buy their first home as planned."
Both Colchester County and the Town of Truro are proposing to double the deed transfer tax charged to homebuyers from 0.5 to one per cent.
The tax applies to all types of property
purchases.
On an average home purchase of $150,000, the deed transfer tax would be $1,500 with the proposed new increase. The tax would be paid in cash on closing and could not be added into a mortgage amount.
County council will publicly vote on the issue April 30 while the town debates the issue publicly May 4.
"Both assessments and municipal tax rate increases have already been passed for this year and now is not the time to double this tax as well," said Sharon Corcoran, broker of ReMax Fairlane Realty.
Dave Uloth, Prudential Woods Realty broker, also questioned the short notice of the increase.
"... many homebuyers who have set aside their savings for a home purchase this year may have to delay their home-buying decision."
"An increase will make this area less attractive to buyers relocated to the area," added Anne Ireland of Century 21 Market Realty.
Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor said the revenue from the proposed increase is needed to further development in the county.
"People should understand we are very pro development and we need money to make those things happen ... without increasing taxes further," said Taylor.
"It seems reasonable and the logical place to go (for revenue)."
Taylor added Halifax and East Hants are two of the "fastest growing communities" and their rate is 1.5 per cent.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said town council will have a "full debate" during the second reading of the topic on May 4.
"I've talked with (Mayor Taylor) about the pros and cons" of the proposed tax, said Mills, without commenting on his opinion of the proposal.
The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) indicates the northern Nova Scotia real estate activity in March was down 28 per cent over last March; the largest year-over-year drop across the province.
"It is difficult to justify an increase in the tax when the housing market in the area is seeing a decrease in activity," said NSAR's Linda Smardon.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Royal LePage Truro Real Estate, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors

Geographic location: TRURO, Colchester County, Northern Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • V
    January 18, 2010 - 10:17

    I agree with Sam. The county needs to reassess **how and where** it is spending money, first. Adding this tax is taking the quick way out at the risk of deterring people from locating in Colchester County and the Town of Truro.

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 10:15

    Other areas of the province don't have to pay this extra tax.

    As a small business owner thinking about buying a house, perhaps Cumberland County would be a better location. Property tax is lower too.

  • Sam
    January 18, 2010 - 10:11

    I'd say this is unbelieveable but given the history as I understand it around here it's par for the course.

    We recently relocated from Halifax to here and were astonished our property taxes would be higher in Truro thank in the HRM. That was offset by the lower land transfer tax. This one time saving helped offset the higher property taxes. If land transfer taxes were higher here we may have honestly built somewhere else.

    After living here for a while, I have to ask where my current tax dollars are going - how is this money being spent? This proposed increase is simply another way to increase town / country revenues.

    Yet again, I disagree with this approach - increase taxes because the town / county needs more money. What we need to do is have a third party REALLY look at how and where our existing tax funds are being allocated and spent.

    It would be nice in the private sector if we could just jack our prices when we need more money instead of looking at how we spend our money and look at ways to save. While we don't have that luxury it appears of local governments do.

    Yet again, let's have an independent party look at how and where our tax dollars are being spent. I don't see any value for my money now and I feel the need to know the reasons - the detailed reasons - why these local governments can justify these tax increases.

    Just be casue we can doesn't fly in the private sector and it shouldn't in the public sector either!

  • flogger
    January 18, 2010 - 10:09

    Hmmm, anyone want to bet that the new tax revenues will be allocated to fixing the mindfields and crumbling streets in Truro? Just another tax grab by a bunch of mindless councillors who don't have a clue about providing basic services.

  • Steve
    January 18, 2010 - 09:50

    You're right Flogger about the mindless councillors who don't have a clue about providing basic services.

    I'm not a rich man. Most of the houses I've seen around Truro, that I would even consider acceptable for my needs, have a property tax of at least $1200 per year.

    But I'm close to the wire of what I can afford when you consider lawyer fees, down payments, and other closing costs including the transfer tax.

    On the other-hand, since I can't afford this extra tax grab of $1000 - 2000 right now, and I buy a nicer house in Cumberland county ('cause the houses are less expensive there and your dollar goes farther) and over the next 10 years Truro and Colchester county just lost $120,000 or more in property taxes PLUS my little business is employing folks in Cumberland county rather than Colchester county.

    If this issues forces just 10 people in this county to do the same thing, that's a loss of over 1 million dollars within the next 10 years -- except... I expect the loss to be much higher -- it will certainly affect more than 10 people.

    We are talking millions of dollars this town and the county could lose, simple because they want instant gratification and want their slimy little paws greased right now -- the heck with the town's future.

    Who is responsible for this? We need to vote his/her sorry butt out of office.

  • Truth
    January 18, 2010 - 09:50

    Government's sole purpose--find new ways to pilfer people's pockets.

  • Eastend Boy
    January 18, 2010 - 09:41

    Sam Daniels for MAYOR !!!!!!