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Buying your first home in Canada: Tips For Immigrants

Buying your first home in Canada: Tips For Immigrants

Many newcomers to Canada hope to buy a home here one day. To buy a house, you have to have a lot of money and be ready to take on the responsibilities of a homeowner.

It can be exciting to buy your own home, but it’s not always the best choice for everyone. Before you buy a house or condo, you should think about all of the costs.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says that your monthly housing costs shouldn’t be more than about 39% of your monthly gross income (before taxes and other deductions). Some of these costs are your mortgage payment, property taxes, and the cost of heating your home.

In this article, we’ll show you how to buy a home in Canada and give you some helpful tips along the way. We know that buying a home in a new country comes with some extra challenges. We want to help. Here are some things you can do and ways we can help to make it easier to buy a home

How to Buy a House in Canada: 6 Steps

1. Know your options: Choose what kind of house and neighborhood you want.

Before you start the process of buying a home or property in Canada, it’s important to learn about the different types of housing and decide what kind of neighborhood you want to live in.

In general, you can buy a home that is under construction, brand new and ready to move in, or one that has already been lived in. Pre-construction homes are usually cheaper than homes that have already been built or are for sale, but they do have their pros and cons. Working with a real estate agent and a lawyer will give you a better idea of what some of the extra costs will be.

Think about your needs (like transportation and schools), how you like to live, and your budget as you look at different neighborhoods. You can choose to live in a city or a suburb, or you can choose to live in the country or in a smaller town or city.

If you’re thinking about moving to the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, this free online tool lets you compare sold prices to list prices in nearly 400 neighborhoods to find out which areas are selling for more or less than the asking price.

2. Look at, organize, and make plans for your money

Buying a house or property is a huge financial commitment, so it goes without saying that you should be well-prepared before you make the purchase. To be ready, you need to –

  • Assessing your annual household budget and income;
  • knowing your credit rating;
  • being pre-approved for a mortgage;
  • understanding all the one-time costs, such as the down payment, legal fees, title insurance, inspection fees, property transfer, and taxes; and
  • being aware of the monthly costs, such as mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, insurance premiums, and property taxes.

3. Find a real estate agent or realtor

Most people look for a place to live with the help of a realtor or real estate agent. It’s important to find a good fit when looking for a realtor. Find an agent you can trust. Choose someone who will speak up for you, give you advice, act as a consultant, and help you negotiate. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to use a realtor to find a home. You can do it on your own if you want to.

Here are some things to think about when evaluating realtors: whether they are licensed in the province, their experience, background, approach, confidence when answering questions, services offered, whether they work alone or in a team, communication style, references, and the main neighborhoods they work in.

Benefits of using a real estate agent:

  • Commissions are paid by the seller, not the buyer, so you don’t have to pay them. Note that the commission is based on how much the item was bought for.
  • Realtors have a lot to offer because they have worked in the field and learned a lot. They know what’s going on in the area, how much things are worth on the market, what the law says, and other important details, so they can point you in the right direction. Some real estate agents are able to point out problems that a home might have.
  • Realtors can help with all the paperwork and handle the whole buying process from start to finish. They can talk about the price and the terms of the contract, like when they can move in, what repairs need to be done, and what furniture or equipment is included.
  • Realtors can help you figure out if you qualify for government programs that help people buy homes.
  • Get access to real listings, so there’s less chance of getting scammed.
  • Saves time and reduces stress.

4. Visit different properties to find one that you want to buy

Now that you know what kind of house you want, what neighborhood(s) you want to live in, how much money you have, and that you’re working with a real estate agent, it’s time to choose some homes that meet your needs.

When you go to a showing, find out as much as you can about the property and ask questions. Some of the things you might want to look at are the storage space, the plumbing and water pressure, any mold, the ventilation, any water damage or cracks in the walls or ceilings, and the general condition of the property.


5. Make an offer for the house you want to buy

Have you found a house you like? Next, you have to make an offer.

An offer is a formal, legally binding agreement to buy a home. Once the seller accepts the offer, it is legally binding. Offers can be contingent on things like getting the money or having a home inspection. Even if the seller has already agreed to it, you can back out if any of the conditions aren’t met. You can also make a firm offer that doesn’t have any strings attached.

What goes into a house offer?

Most of the time, a formal offer includes:

  • Your legal name, the seller’s name, and the property’s address;
  • How much you want to pay (the purchase price);
  • A check for the deposit, the amount of which depends on how much the house costs and how the market is doing;
  • Any extras you want to be part of the deal, like window coverings;
  • The date you want to move in (the closing date);
  • A request for a survey of the land right now;
  • The offer’s end date, which is usually less than 48 hours away;
  • Any other conditions that must be met before the contract is finalized, like a home inspection that goes well.

Depending on the property you want to buy, you might be able to get a better deal. It’s important to know that you can negotiate more than just the purchase price. For example, you can ask for repairs, extras, or a longer or shorter closing date as part of your purchase agreement.

On the other hand, if the property you want is in a good area or if other people are interested, there could be a bidding war where each buyer tries to offer more than the asking price.

Hiring a home inspector

Before you close on the deal, you should hire a home inspector to look for problems and check the home’s overall condition. When choosing a home inspector, make sure that he or she is a member of a well-known professional group.

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An inspector will give you a written report that describes the state of your home in terms of:

  • Plumbing and electrical systems;
  • heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units;
  • roofing; visible insulation;
  • walls, ceilings, floors, and windows;
  • foundation’s soundness;
  • If there is lead paint, asbestos, mold, or bugs (like termites or mice), and if the wiring is old or dangerous.

6. Buy the house and move in.

Once you get the inspector’s report and decide to buy the house, you’ll need a real estate lawyer to look out for your best interests. The lawyer will help look over the contract and help with the transfer of the title.

Your real estate agent and lawyer will take care of most of the closing paperwork and tell you what you need to do. These may include finalizing the mortgage documents, making sure your homeowner’s insurance is in effect on your closing date, transferring your utilities, giving the necessary checks to seal the deal, and signing all the closing documents.

After all the paperwork is done, it’s time for you to move in!

It can be very hard work to find your dream home. Having a clear idea of what you want and what you need can help you feel at ease. There are tens of thousands of homes and apartments all over Canada. You will be able to find the right one with the help of your realtor, bank, home inspector, and lawyer.



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