It must have seemed too good to be true.
Last November, during the City of Vancouver’s annual property tax sale, a 2,600-square-foot duplex on a full-size lot on Knight Street was auctioned off.
Under the Vancouver Charter, if a property owner hasn’t paid their property taxes for more than two years, the city has the right to auction the home to recover the taxes owed.
Once the sale price is determined, the buyer pays the city what is called a “reset price.” This is a total of delinquent taxes, late interest and registration fees payable at the Office of Land Titles.
The full price of the property is not paid for a year, at which time the original owner can return the upset price paid to the potential new owner plus six percent interest, and the deal collapses.
The only other thing that can prevent the sale at that point is if there was a “manifest error” in the deal.
While over 100 properties are sometimes sold each year as property tax sales, the deal usually doesn’t go through because the original owner pays.
But this case was different.
According to the report of Vancouver’s chief financial officer going to city council this Thursday, during the tax auction on November 10, 2021, a house came up at 3018 Knight Street.
At the time, the property’s owner, William Burgess, had not paid taxes on the property since 2016 and had not made the necessary declarations to avoid the city’s vacant housing tax or the provincial speculation and vacancy tax. Burgess owned the house outright, so there was no mortgage on the property.
The city report indicates that various notices and messages were sent to Burgess with no luck over six years prior to the sale, including two legal warnings that the property would be sold for taxes.
In 2022, the appraised value of the property was $1.62 million. On auction day, it sold for $601,000. The new approved owner paid $34,900 in sales price and was willing to pay the remaining $566,100 by November 10, 2022. An excellent deal.
However, according to the report, the public guardian and trustee recently contacted the city to say that Burgess had died in 2016.
“The city has been unable to obtain a death certificate, but has no reason not to believe the PGT,” the report says. “The death of the owner amounts to a manifest error because the various mandatory notices prior to the fiscal sale could not be received.”
As a result, the deal is canceled and the upset price will be refunded.
The report states that Burgess had no will and no heirs and that the estate may pass to the Crown.
The 2022 City Property Tax Sale will take place at 10 a.m. this Wednesday (November 2) at the town hall. There are 59 properties for sale, most of them residential.
The most valuable is a $3.9 million condo at 1801/1233 Cordova Street, which has an asking price of $22,155.
Also on offer is a vacant lot at 5469 Dunbar Street with an appraised value of $3.8 million, with a special price of $62,000.
The property for sale with the lowest appraised value is a commercial lot in an older building at 2556 East Hastings Street. It is appraised at $371,000 with an altered price of $3,800.
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