Buying a Home

1. Things to Consider Before Starting Your Search

What Features Do You Need/Want?

Do you need/want an extra bathroom or bedroom, a garage, a fenced backyard, or lower utility bills? Do you want a fireplace, a short drive to work, or maybe minimal yard work? Once your list is complete, decide what’s most important to you.

What’s the Ideal Location?

Where you live obviously affects your lifestyle; it’s also one of the most significant influences on the value of your home. Don’t forget to consider such things as distance to work, schools, shopping and entertainment.

What Kind of Home?

What type of property do you want? A single-family detached home is attractive to many people because it typically provides more living space and land. On the other hand, a condominium may be a more appropriate choice for you, with an emphasis on maintenance-free living. Determine what type of home best suits your desired lifestyle and budget.

What’s Your Budget?

How much do you want to spend? Just as importantly, how much do you have to spend? Note there are numerous additional expenses (detailed below) that you’ll pay to complete the purchase of a home.

2. Choosing a REALTOR®

A REALTOR® can help you answer all of these questions and help you navigate through what can be a complicated business transaction. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident with the agent you choose.

3. Searching For a Home

A REALTOR® will use various tools to try and find properties that meet your specifications. The most important is a local Board’s MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) System. Your REALTOR® can quickly search through numerous properties available for sale in specific areas to find suitable listings; that is, houses that best match your needs, choice of neighbourhoods and price range.

4. Seeing Houses

When you select a property and decide to visit a house, there are many things to consider. Does it have all the features you want/need? Is the neighbourhood what you expected? Try to picture your favorite furnishings in a room.

5. Making an Offer

Once you find a house you want to make your home, your REALTOR® can help you develop an offer. In the offer, you should specify how much you’re willing to pay. State when the offer expires and suggest a closing date for the transaction. You can also propose some conditions on the offer. Some common types of conditions are:

  • Getting a suitable mortgage
  • Selling your current home (the seller may continue to look for a buyer, but will give you the right of first refusal);
  • If there’s a septic system, the seller having a health inspection certificate, stating that the system meets local standards;
  • An inspection by a qualified home inspector
  • Any inclusions of appliances and other items – basically, what stays and what goes.

You will need to present a deposit along with your offer. An appropriate deposit will show your good faith to the seller. Note that the seller’s agent, if they are represented by one, is bound by law to bring all offers to the seller’s attention.

6. If Your Offer is Accepted

After your offer is accepted and all conditions met, the offer becomes binding on both sides. If you later refuse to honour the agreement, you may lose your deposit or might be sued for damages. Before signing, make sure you understand and agree with all conditions of the offer.

Before the property can formally change hands, there are still a few things to do. Be prepared to provide proof to your lender that you have insured your new house. On or before closing day, both side’s lawyers will arrange to transfer title of the property from the seller to you. The mortgage money will be transferred to your lawyer’s trust account, and then to the seller, and your lawyer will bill you all additional expenses such as land transfer taxes or outstanding legal fees.

Once you’re satisfied and the keys to the front door are in your hands, there’s nothing else to say, except welcome home!

Extra Expenses

No matter what type of home or property you’re buying, plan on some extra expenses.

  • A land transfer tax, in certain provinces
  • An appraisal fee if necessary
  • An interest adjustment. (Mortgages are normally calculated from the first of each month. If your closing date is the same as the beginning of your mortgage, there will be no adjustment. However, if your closing date is July and you move in on June 15, those last 15 days are the interest adjustment period. Your lender will expect you to cover the cost of the interest during that time.)
  • Reimbursement to seller for the unused portion of any prepaid property taxes or utility bills
  • Legal fees, and, if applicable, REALTOR® fees

(The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.)