Buyers Plan: 8 steps to buying smart
Navigating the world of Canadian home buying
Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford.
Falling in love with a house you can’t afford can be heartbreaking. Avoid disappointment by figuring out your budget before you start looking.
- First, decide how much you can afford for your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan lets you withdraw up to $25K per person (or up to $50K per couple) from your RRSPs – tax-free – to be repaid over 15 years. More on that here . The bigger your down payment, the less principal you will owe, and the less interest you will pay.
- Don’t forget about closing costs, like insurance, legal fees, home inspection costs, land registration and land transfer fees. Add those to your moving expenses and service hookup fees, and they can add up surprisingly fast.
- Your monthly housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, heat, etc.) shouldn’t use up more than 32% of your income. (If your combined monthly income is $5000, for example, 32% of that is $1600.) If you have car payments or credit card debt, the rule of thumb is that debt repayment shouldn’t be more than 40% of your income.
- Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It’s a good way of finding out how much you can borrow – and it speeds up the process once you’ve found the home you want to buy.
Step 2: Figure out what type of home is right for you.
Step 3: Decide where you want to live.
Living in an area you like is as important as buying a home you love. Do you want a busy urban lifestyle, a house in the ‘burbs, or a quiet place in the country? Do you want to walk to work or are you okay with a longer commute? Do you need to be close to good schools? Rec facilities? Shopping?
Step 4: Start looking.
Go to open houses. Visit mls.ca. Check the classifieds. Drive around neighbourhoods you like looking for For Sale signs. Talk to your REALTOR® about your needs and start looking at properties.
Step 5: Build a team.
Put together the right group of experts to help you buy. Start with a REALTOR® you trust, then look for a reputable lender or mortgage broker, a lawyer (or a notary in Quebec), a home inspector and an insurance broker. Your REALTOR® works closely with all of these professionals, and will be happy to recommend people you can depend on.
Step 6: Make an offer.
You’ve found the perfect place – now it’s time to make an offer. An offer to purchase includes the purchase price you’re offering, chattels to be included in the purchase (like appliances or light fixtures), the amount of the deposit, the closing date and any other conditions.
Your REALTOR® will help you prepare your offer, and will present it to the vendor, who will either accept it or make a counter offer (which asks for a higher price or different terms). You can accept or reject the counter offer. If everyone agrees, the home is yours. If not, you can make another offer, or you may have to keep looking.
Step 7: Get a mortgage.
Once you’re approved, you’ll need to decide what type of mortgage works best for your needs. Will you go with a fixed or variable interest rate? Will your mortgage be closed or open? What will your amortization period be? Will you make payments monthly, biweekly or weekly? Your mortgage broker or lender can help you find a mortgage that suits your needs – and saves you the most money in the long term.
Land Transfer Tax - Ontario
When you a buy a house, condo or land in Ontario you are subject to land transfer tax which is due upon closing.
The Ontario land transfer tax (LTT) is a marginal tax and each portion of your property's value is taxed at a unique rate.
If you are purchasing a property in Toronto, it is important to note that an additional Toronto Land Transfer Tax will also apply. Beyond the land transfer tax you will also have to pay closing costs when purchasing a property.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CITY OF TORONTO HAS APPROVED CHANGES TO THE TORONTO LAND TRANSFER TAX, WHICH TOOK EFFECT FOR TRANSACTIONS CLOSING ON OR AFTER MARCH 1, 2017, TO HARMONIZE TORONTO LTT RATES WITH THE PROVINCIAL LAND TRANSFER TAX. AS SUCH, THE TORONTO LAND TRANSFER TAX IS EQUAL TO THE PROVINCIAL LAND TRANSFER TAX INDICATED IN THE CALCULATION.
Step 8: Lawyer Meeting
Buyer's Last Steps
You will meet with your lawyer 2 - 5 days prior to closing. You should bring the following to the meeting:
1. Two pieces of I.D. (driver's license, passport)
2. Bank Draft: Balance Due on Closing
Value of the property less mortgage amount - less your deposit
Lawyer's Fee + HST (approx $900)
Land Transfer Tax
3. Enthusiasm! You are mere moments away from owning your property!
Move in and enjoy!
Home Sweet Home
On closing, you will be provided with the keys and other items/documents.
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