Out-of-province downsizing, Paying capital gains tax on an investment property


There are small but significant differences in the way that real estate is practiced from one province to the next.

Dear David,

My husband and I are retired. We’ve talked about downsizing in Nova Scotia. Does real estate work differently in different provinces? We do realize that buying is difficult with travel limitations in place. – EAST COAST CALLING

DEAR EAST: I always consider the motivation behind a downsizing question. Many people wonder about proximity to family, property upkeep and the ability to age in place, which are common concerns that can be accommodated with the right support. Another consideration is your buying power, which will likely improve with a move out east. Properties in that part of the country are generally more affordable than they are near the GTA, including here in Waterloo Region.

To answer your question, there are small but significant differences in the way that real estate is practiced from one province to the next. As a licensed real estate Broker, I can practice anywhere in Ontario, but if you are moving further afield, you’ll need local assistance.

Clients of mine recently moved to Calgary. Because I have professional relationships with Realtors worldwide, I matched them with an experienced agent who knows the local neighbourhoods. I like to make those warm connections to ensure my clients are in capable hands. If you need help finding someone, I am happy to make a recommendation.

PRO TIP: Until you can travel freely, you may want to have a local agent set you up with an online search, so you can get a feel for properties that meet your criteria.

Dear David,

I severed my property five years ago, and built a new home on the severed parcel. My son has been renting the original house and wants to buy it as a way of getting into the market. Will I need to pay the capital gains all at once, or can I do it over the course of a few years? – DOTING DAD

DEAR DOTING: I recommend you speak to a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant). When you sell a house for more than you paid for it, there is a capital gain. In Canada, principal residences are not subject to capital gains tax, but investment properties are.

To establish capital gain, the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) will need to know the market value of your original house on the date it became an investment property, and its market value at the time of sale. You’ll be taxed on the increase, though at a much lower rate than you would be on regular income. The full amount of this tax will be due on your next tax return.

An appraiser can establish and time stamp the property values. A knowledgeable local Realtor can provide an opinion of value for something recent, though if the CRA questions it, you may need a formal appraisal.

PRO TIP: Talk to an accountant who fully understands your financial situation. You may be able to better manage the tax implications by timing the sale from one year to the next, or topping up your RRSPs. At any rate, you can celebrate having made a profit. #AskDavid #Advice