This week all B.C. homeowners started receiving their annual property tax bills and inside there is information about the new option to defer the payment of them if you meet certain criteria. I previously wrote about this under 2010 BC Budget Homeowner Changes.
So if you qualify, why not take advantage of this?
Most certainly if you had to, this is a good new option in what are still hard economic times for many B.C. families. However, I do want to caution you and ensure you take a few things into account before doing so.
Please use this option only if necessary as you will just be increasing your debt load. Deferring the taxes means you will have to pay it back at some point. Interest is being charged (currently at Bank Prime, which is very low but is expected to increase) and accumulating on it. Plan on paying it back as soon as you can.
If you cannot pay it back and defer it each year it will be very easy to accumulate thousands, if not tens of thousands, dollars of additional debt. Some of you may be thinking…I will just pay it all back when I sell the home, whenever that is. Partially true. You may have to pay it back sooner than you think.
Let me explain.
If and when your mortgage comes up for renewal you may want to shop around and see if you can get a better deal somewhere else. This may pose a problem. Most lenders will want to ensure that the property taxes are up to date before approving you. Therefore, if you have deferred the property taxes you will need to bring them up to date at that point. What will you do if this occured? You would have to find the money to pay it or add it to the mortgage (and increase what you owe).
What happens if the equity in your home has decreased due to a drop in market values at that time? Remember, one criteria in this new deferment program is that you only need 15% equity in your home currently. What happens if values dropped when your mortgage came up for renewal? It would not take much of a drop in the market combined with the amount you deferred over more than a few years to create a possible situation where you would have insufficient equity to be able to increase the mortgage to pay the taxes. Each time you apply for a mortgage, the new lender will re-qualify you and an appraisal is one requirement.
Should this happen you will be unable to take advantage of any better deals out there. It may leave you stuck with your existing lender regardless of what they offered you.
And even if you had sufficient equity to add it to the mortgage, think of all the additional interest you would be paying over time.
In the long run you may pay more for the tax deferral than you may have anticipated.
I encourage you to give it a good deal of consideration before jumping in and deferring your property taxes. It is not something to take lightly.
So are you going to do it? Do you like the new program? I would love to hear from you.
Wayne Mah, AMP / Senior Mortgage Planner / firstname.lastname@example.org / 604.880.1899