First Time Home Buyers Guide



Step 1: Get Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage

When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will look at your:

  • Income
  • Debts
  • Credit history
  • Down payment

Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best rates.

The pre-approval should be in writing and will include a guaranteed interest rate, usually valid for 90 days.

Pre-qualifying will ensure that you know how much you are able to borrow and will be vital to your house-hunting efforts.


Step 2: House Hunting

How many bedrooms might you need? What kind of outdoor space would you like?  The location will be a big decision; access to schools, transit and parks all should be considered.

After discussing your needs, our team will provide you with individualized listings that match your criteria. From there, we can begin showing you properties of interest.



Step 3: Complete Offer & Closing Checklist

We have created a detailed summary of what to expect throughout the offer process when buying your new home. Please review the outline below for an overview of the buying process. As always, we are always available to walk you through the process and support you each step of the way. 
Offer Day:
The offer process is both exciting and nerve-wracking. In Toronto, your offer must be in writing and will form the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). The APS is a legally binding document which will need to be signed by the buyer. The APS contains;

  • The price you are prepared to pay
  • The amount of your deposit as a bank draft/certified cheque/wire (usually 5% of the purchase price, due within 24 hours after the offer is accepted
  • Closing date (your ideal closing date)
  • Inclusions you would like detailed 
  • Conditions that need to be met in order for the deal to go through (i.e. financing, home inspection, additional visits to the property, etc.)

Once we have submitted your offer, the seller can accept it, reject it or sign back with a counteroffer. 

Once the Offer is Accepted:
Now we need to ensure that all the conditions are met. The next step in the process is for the deal to become “firm”. That happens when you and the seller have met all the conditions of sale (if there are any) by the stated deadlines. A firm offer is a legally binding contract.
Considerations Before Closing:
In the weeks before closing, you may also have a few chances to visit your new home to do things like measuring the windows for curtains, determining your furniture placement, etc. We recommend that we take full advantage of these opportunities as this is also an important time to see if anything needs to be fixed prior to the closing date. It’s important that we examine the home in its entirety. Should anything not be working, we can address it before closing as it can be tough to get sellers to compensate you after the deal is final.

Next, you will need to book movers. Decide whether you can get by with a rented truck and a few friends, or if you need to call in the pros. If you’re moving at a popular time, you’ll need to book your mover as far in advance as possible.

At this time, you will also need to shop around for home insurance. You’ll need proof of insurance to finalize your mortgage and close your deal. 

Closing Day:
On closing day, your lawyer transfers your mortgage funds and the down payment to the seller and registers the deed in your name. The deed is the legal ownership document for your home. Registering the deed transfers title (the legal term for ownership) from the previous owner to you.

You’ll also pay your lawyer’s closing costs. These will include the land-transfer tax, legal fees and adjustments. Once all that’s firmed up, you can take a deep breath. You finally get the keys!


Summary – Closing a Home Checklist for Buyers:
After your deal has become firm, follow these simple steps to make your way to closing;

  1. Meet with your bank or mortgage broker to get your mortgage in order. When you make your appointment, be sure to ask exactly which documents you will need to bring with you. That way you can avoid administrative delays. 
  2. Get homeowners’ insurance. You’ll need proof of this to close your deal.
  3. Hire a lawyer to review the approved offer (known as an Agreement of Purchase and Sale), conduct title and other relevant searches and line up title insurance.
  4. Hire a home inspector and, ideally, visit the property while your inspector is there. Make sure you book other visits, as agreed to in your purchase agreement, to check over everything for yourself, too.
  5. Review the statement of adjustments. The seller’s lawyer compiles this document, which lists any costs the seller has already paid. For example, the property taxes might be paid up for the full year. If your closing date is Sept 1, you’ll have to repay the seller for the remaining four months.
  6. Book movers.
  7. Change your address. Consider redirecting your mail through Canada Post
  8. Have utilities installed/accounts set up for; hydro, water, home phone/internet/cable and gas.
  9. Meet with your lawyer few days prior to closing to sign documents and submit your down payment – minus the deposit, plus relevant closing costs.
  10. Pick up the keys from your lawyer on the date your new home closes. 

Closing Costs

Closing Costs: Before Closing

Check out our affordability calculator for additional numbers;

  • Deposit (usually 5% of the purchase price, paid within 24 hours of your offer being accepted – let’s use an example of $600,000  = $30,000 deposit)
  • Property Appraisal ($400- $500, often paid by the lender)
  • Home Inspection ($400-700, optional)

Closing Costs: On Closing

  • Balance of Purchase Price (the purchase price less your initial deposit. Usually the bulk will come from your lender and become your mortgage)
  • Legal Fees (amount varies depending on the purchase price – approx $1,800 for a $500,000 purchase)
  • Title Insurance (sometimes included in your legal fees, $250-$400)
  • Property Survey (if required – $1,000-$2,000)
  • Ontario Land Transfer Tax & Toronto Land Transfer Tax – based on the purchase price (see our land transfer calculator here)
  • CMHC Insurance Premium (insurance premium charged if you have less then 20% down payment )

Closing Costs: After Closing

  • Moving Expenses 
  • Utility Connection Charges (varies)
  • Redecorating and Renovating Costs (varies)
  • Immediate Repair and Maintenance Costs (varies)

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