Vancouver real estate: unlivable home previously auctioned by city hall sells over asking price for $2.5 million

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      A derelict home with a bit of history with the City of Vancouver recently changed hands.

      A buyer purchased 3469 Arbutus Street for $2.5 million, which was over the property’s listing price of $2,395,000.

      The listing by Sutton Group-West Coast Realty describes the 2,385-square-foot residence as “not livable”.

      An online search produced a report to city council by Marina Marzin, collector of taxes with the City of Vancouver.

      Marzin’s report recalled that the city auctioned the property as part of its annual tax sale on November 13, 2019.

      “The owner of the Property (the “Owner”) inherited the Property in 1985, and it is mortgage free,” Marzin wrote.

      The assessed value of the property in 2019 was $2,154,700.

      “The Owner has not paid any City taxes on the Property since 2016,” Marzin related. “The Property appears to be abandoned. The Owner does not reside at the Property.”

      Moreover, “The City has attempted to deliver various notices and messages to the Owner, both leading up to and after the tax sale in November 2019, but has no confirmation that it has succeeded.”

      According to Marzin, the City has had “no confirmed communication with the Owner in 4 years”.

      “The Owner is unresponsive to other tax matters as well,” the tax collector related.

      The property has been subject to the city’s empty homes tax, and B.C.’s speculation and vacancy tax.

      At the 2019 city auction, a “tax sale purchaser bid the minimum upset price, $4,373.74, plus $1,400,000.00”.

      Marzin explained that following a tax sale, “there is a one–year period when the owner of a property can redeem the taxes owing and the tax sale purchaser will not obtain title to the property”.

      As a result, city council then declares a manifest error, refunds the buyer, and cancels the tax sale.

      In circumstances that were not totally clear, Marzin wrote in the October 27, 2020 report that city staff recommend that council makes a declaration of manifest error “because staff has no confirmation that the Owner received any Tax Notices or notices of the tax sale leading up to the tax sale”.

      Marzin’s report was included in the November 4, 2020 agenda of council.

      Minutes show that the report was subsequently withdrawn by staff.

      It was not immediately known if the tax sale was either maintained or cancelled.

      The run-down home sits on a 6,250-square-foot lot with a frontage of 50 feet.

      The two-storey home with basement was built in 1928.

      According to B.C. Assessment, the property’s 2021 value as of July 1, 2020 was $2,013,700.

      The lot is valued at $1,980,000, and the run-down house, $33,700.

      Sutton Group-West Coast Realty listed the property on January 30, 2021 for $2,395,000.

      After 12 days, a buyer came forward and picked up the property for $2.5 million on February 11.

      The transaction was tracked by real-estate site