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Lorna DeClark, Real Estate Broker. RE/MAX a-b Realty Ltd., Brokerage, Woodstock.

Get the home you really want

Once you’ve decided to buy a new home, things can move pretty quickly. It’s important to have a firm grasp on your and/or your families needs when determining what you require in a new home, while taking into account your families size, desired location, income and lifestyle. Real Estate Agents are an excellent sources of advice and help in these matters. Not only do they have the experience and knowledge to make sure the choice you make will be the right one, but with access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), they can seek out suitable properties for you and provide you with a customized list of homes that meet your needs, wants and budget.

Our services include:

  • Help finding the best home for you whether it is listed for sale on the MLS®, privately, or not listed at all.
  • Showing you the MLS® history on any property and interpreting that data.
  • Obtaining and interpreting the title for any property.
  • Recommending excellent service providers such as lawyers, home inspectors and mortgage brokers.
  • Preparing market evaluations on properties of interest to assist in negotiations.
  • Sharing demographic information on different areas of the city.
  • One-on-one buyer consultations
  • Advice about resale potential of each home in regards to its layout, zoning, location and more
  • Advice on renovations and recommended improvements
  • Preparing the purchase contract – we will advise you of your different negotiating options and arm you with vital information for a successful and smooth transaction.
  • Negotiating with the listing agent – the most important step. Things can happen very quickly and we can give the advice that’s best for your situation.

Step 1 of 3

Step 1: Decide if homeownership is right for you

Buying a home is a big decision. Ask yourself 5 questions before you decide if you’re ready to own a home.

  1. Am I financially stable?
  2. Do I have the financial management skills and discipline to handle this large a purchase?
  3. Am I ready and able to take responsibility for all the costs that come with being a homeowner?
  4. Can I devote the time to regular home maintenance?
  5. Am I new to Canada? There are several extra homebuying resources for newcomers to Canada.

Also consider the many pros and cons of owning versus renting a home.

Step 2: Check if you are financially ready to own a home

Are you financially ready to own a home? Look into these 5 calculations and questions before you meet with your broker or lender.

  1. Compare how much you currently spend on expenses and debt payments with the amount you have saved or invested.
  2. How much can you afford to spend on housing each month without risking your financial health?
  3. How much do you need to save to pay for the upfront costs of buying a home?Upfront costs include:
    • the down payment
    • home inspection and appraisal fees
    • insurance costs
    • land registration fees
    • prepaid property taxes or utility bills (the buyer reimburses the seller or builder)
    • legal or notary fees
    • potential repairs or renovations
    • moving costs
    • GST/HST/QST on a newly built house or mortgage loan insurance
  4. How much would you be spending each month with homeownership expenses added to your current financial situation?
  5. What is your credit score? You can demonstrate your ability to consistently pay bills and debts with a copy of your credit report.

Qualifying for a mortgage

There are 2 affordability rules that determine how much you can spend on housing without risking your financial situation.

As a new homeowner:

  • your monthly housing costs should be at or under 32% of your gross monthly income
  • your monthly debt load (including your mortgage) should be at or under 40% of your gross monthly income

You can explore your budget options with the mortgage affordability calculator.

Don’t qualify for a mortgage?

You can still take several steps toward homeownership.

  • Meet with a credit counselor to improve your financial situation.
  • Pay off some loans or other debts.
  • Save for a larger down payment.
  • Lower your home price range.
  • Adjust your budget to spend less or save more.

Can you afford your own home?

Step 3: Finance your home

You need to meet with your broker or lender to start the mortgage pre-approval process. Bring the following information to the meeting:

  • government-issued photo ID
  • contact information for your employer
  • proof of address
  • proof of income
  • proof of down payment
  • proof of savings and investments
  • details of current debts
  • your credit score

What is a pre-approved mortgage?

A pre-approved mortgage tells you:

  • how much you can afford
  • what your interest rate will be
  • how your monthly mortgage payments will look

This isn’t a guarantee of final approval, but it can help you to narrow down your search. It will help you make decisions about affordability, neighbourhood and home type or size.

You do not have to spend your full pre-approved amount. Always consider possible changes such as loss of income, increased expenses or rising interest rates.

Down payments of less than 20%

You can buy a home with a down payment under 20% of the purchase price, but you’ll likely need mortgage loan insurance. This protects banks and other lenders against the risk of mortgage default just like property insurance protects you in case of loss.

  • Calculate your mortgage loan insurance premium.
  • Learn more about mortgage loan insurance.

What type of mortgage do you need?

Step 4: Find the right home

Think long term when buying a home. What kind of home do you need now? What will you need in 5 to 10 years?


  • the location and neighbourhood
  • the size of the property and home
  • the type of home — for example, detached, duplex, row house or condominium
  • the travel distance to work, recreation and services
  • any special features you want or need — for example, accessibility or efficiency upgrades
  • your lifestyle needs and possible changes in the future
  • your preference for a new, resale or custom-built home

Common types of homeownership

Options vary slightly between provinces, but you can choose between the following ownership types in Canada:

  • Freehold — you own the building and the land
  • Leasehold — you own the building and rent or lease the land
  • Condominium (or “strata”) — you own your unit and share common elements
  • Co-operatives (co-ops) — you buy a share in the building and live in one of the units

If you’re considering a condo, make sure you review all the financial and technical audits for the condominium corporation to avoid surprises later on.

Choose your homebuying team

It’s important to have a team of experienced professionals to help you during the buying process. Take the time to check references before deciding who to work with.

Your homebuying team may include:

  • a real estate agent
  • a home inspector
  • an appraiser
  • a land surveyor
  • a builder or contractor
  • a lawyer or notary
  • insurance and mortgage brokers

If you work with a real estate agent, they can usually refer you to other qualified professionals for your team.

Ready to start your home search?

Step 5: Make an offer and close the deal

When you’ve found the home you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer to the seller.

Your offer must include:

  • your legal name, the name of the seller and the address of the property
  • the amount you’re offering to pay (the purchase price) and the amount of your deposit
  • any extra items you want included in the purchase (for example, window coverings)
  • the date you want to take possession (“closing day”)
  • a request for a current land survey
  • the date the offer expires
  • any other conditions that must be met before the contract is finalized (for example, a satisfactory home inspection)

You should expect to negotiate. While the process can be stressful, it’s all about making the best deal for you and the seller.

Getting a mortgage

Once your offer is accepted, return to your lender or mortgage broker to complete your financing.

In addition to the signed offer, you will need to bring:

  • a legal description of the property and building specifications
  • the online property listing (or photographs if no listing is available)
  • the most recent property tax assessment
  • an appraisal, home inspection report and land survey
  • estimates for recent or planned renovations
  • heating and utility costs
  • condominium fees (if applicable)

What happens on closing day?

You legally take possession of your new home on closing day. The final signings usually take place at your lawyer or notary’s office.

To complete the process, your lender gives your lawyer the mortgage money. You then give your lawyer the down payment (minus the deposit) and the closing costs (usually 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price).

Your lawyer or notary then:

  • pays the seller
  • registers the home in your name
  • gives you the deed and keys to your new home

Are you ready to make an offer?