Take time to consider the many costs that homebuyers incur, especially upon purchasing your first home. Some of the expenses related to buying a home are one-time costs, while others are continuing costs.

The largest outlay is the down payment. As a first time buyer, this would likely represent only 5 – 10% of the purchase price. Be prepared to pay for additional costs. These vary depending upon home type, location etc.:

  • Legal Fees & Disbursements
  • GST on the services such as on legal fees, inspection fees etc.
  • Property taxes and adjustments (reimbursed to the vendor)
  • Interest on interim financing, if any
  • Utility Payments
  • Strata or Condominium Fees
  • Survey Fee
  • Home Inspection Fee
  • Water quality and quantity certificate (if applicable)
  • Appraisal Fee
  • Mortgage broker’s fee (if applicable)
  • Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium (if less than 20% down)
  • Mortgage Loan Insurance Application Fee (if less than 20% down)
  • Moving Expenses
  • Renovations and repairs
  • Furniture, paint, carpeting, window coverings, etc.
  • Service and Utility Hook-up Fees
  • Property/Condominium Insurance
  • Mortgage Application Fee
  • Deed and/or Mortgage Registration Fee

Additionally, once you have purchased your home, you will incur regular expenses on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. Some of these costs include:

  • Mortgage Payment
  • Water and/or Sewer Payments
  • Electricity and Gas Services
  • Cable, Telephone and Internet Services
  • Property Taxes
  • Strata or Condo Fees
  • Repair/Maintenance Expenses
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Always prepare a budget considering what on-going costs you might face.

How do I Make an Offer to Purchase?

First, work with a licensed REALTOR® as you then know you are working with a professionally trained agent who will explain everything as you go along. Once you have found a home you are interested in buying, your agent should walk you through the process of drafting an offer to purchase.

I will then discuss with you the many options such as closing dates, deposit, and other terms or conditions that protect your interests. Then, I will communicate your offer to the seller or the seller’s real estate agent as your representative.

Be aware that some properties are in demand and you will not be the only interested party making an offer. We will prepare for these situations.

An offer may be with or without conditions

An offer without conditions is known as a “firm offer” and one with conditions is known as a “conditional offer”. A conditional offer is the most common type of offer. It represents your interests with the placement of certain “conditions” which must be satisfied before the purchase offer becomes a binding contract. Some of these conditions could be: “subject to financing approval”, “subject to the strata council allowing pets”, “subject to the buyer’s house selling”, “subject to an approved home inspection”, and many other possibilities.

Then what happens?

The seller may accept your initial offer, reject your offer or present a counter-offer. The counter-offer may differ from your original offer in respect to price, conditions, the closing date or any other items. Offers can be countered back and forth between the parties until one of you accepts or rejects, ending the negotiations. You always have the right to accept, reject or counter offer.

Inclusions and Exclusions

These are specifications within the offer that detail the items to be included or excluded from the purchase of the property. Typical inclusions are appliances, window coverings, fixtures and decorative pieces.


A deposit is provided from the buyer to the seller as a token of the buyer’s assurance and intention to buy the property involved. The deposit is simply a part of the total offered price, it is placed in trust to demonstrate your sincerity. The deposit amount is applied against the total purchase price of the home once the sale has closed.


Conditions are items that are usually put in place to protect a party’s interests upon selling or buying the property. They refer to things that must occur or be in place before the sale closes. They may include such things as a requirement for the seller to repair something.

Closing Date

This is usually the date that the legal ownership of the property transfers from the seller to the buyer and, unless otherwise noted, when the funds for the purchase are concluded. You will want to consider what date would be most ideal for you to take possession and set the completion date one or 2 days prior to then.

Possession Date

The date and time that the buyer takes possession as specified in the contract of purchase and sale. Usually this is the day after completion, although sometimes it might be the same day as completion. This is an important date because it is on this day that you assume responsibility for tax, heat, light and other costs of owning the property.

Purchase Price

The purchase price is the amount the buyer and seller agreed upon as a fair price for the home. The purchase price is usually dependent on market conditions. It may turn out to be greater or less than the seller’s original asking price and greater than the buyer’s preferred price. This is the factor that drives most negotiations and is usually agreed on before any of the other conditions are dealt with.

Legal Needs

Purchasing a home involves a lot of paperwork, consisting mostly of contractual documents that will legally bind you to the numerous terms and conditions. For this reason it is important to have a good lawyer or notary public acting for you. In all contracts you should have someone to protect your rights and interests and an experienced real estate lawyer or notary is important.

In hiring a Lawyer/Notary Public

Purchasing a home involves a lot of paperwork, consisting mostly of contractual documents that will legally bind you to the numerous terms and conditions. For this reason it is important to have a good lawyer or notary public acting for you. In all contracts you should have someone to protect your rights and interests and an experienced real estate lawyer or notary is important.
If you don’t have a lawyer or notary public, you can look for a referral from friends, family or business acquaintances. I also have a list of lawyers/notaries that work in our area. Look for someone with real estate experience and discuss their fee scales.

You will need a lawyer or notary public to process your purchase and ensure the following terms are met:

  1. The legally correct property is transferred to you.
  2. Title is actually transferred to your name.
  3. Ensure title is free and clear of prior owners encumbrances, or advises you on encumbrances.
  4. Ensure your mortgage is registered properly on title.
  5. Explain the process and the steps that need to be completed before you get the keys to your new home.

Statement of Adjustments

Your lawyer/notary public will prepare a “Statement of Adjustments” outlining all the financial aspects of your sale. This is an important document as it identifies the funds you have paid & where they went.

Home Inspection

A home inspection is an objective visual examination of a home’s structure and systems.

I always recommend a home inspection. The fees (usually around $400) are quite reasonable when you consider the several thousands of dollars you are paying for your home. For such a small amount you get some peace of mind knowing that a professional inspector has done a detailed inspection for you.
Here are some other reasons to always get a home inspection:

  1. To ensure you are not surprised by major defects.
  2. So you can be advised about the various elements of the home including heating and cooling systems, structure, electrical and plumbing.
  3. To learn about how the mechanical systems work and need to be maintained.

Home inspectors are often referred by family or friends, however I also keep a list of local inspectors for your use. Look for one that is trained and certified by a national organization such as Canadian Association of Home Inspectors (CAHI) or National Institute of Building Inspectors (NIBI) and who has errors and omissions insurance. Be very careful about hiring someone who offers to do any work that is recommended during the inspection. This is often a conflict of interest and a second opinion should be obtained.

Order the inspection after your offer has been accepted (after you and the seller have agreed on price). The contact will already state how much time to complete the inspection.

If as a result of the inspection, you have further concerns, hire a specialist in that area to conduct a more extensive examination of the concern.

Mortgage Information

Mortgage lending is a highly competitive field. Information on mortgage rates (which can change daily) is available in local newspapers, through mortgage brokers, from individual lenders and of course through conventional financial institutions. When you are shopping for a loan, interest rates tell only a part of the story. You will also need to study the various fee-lenders charge. Many mortgages today are almost custom-tailored to individual needs with many options available. We have brought a mortgage broker into our office to help search out the nearly 70 lenders in Canada to find the best plan for you. If you are already working with a financial institution our in-house broker will provide you with a no charge second opinion to help ensure you are getting the best deal for you.