How to Buy a House in Ontario


Buying a home can be one of the most exciting milestones in your lifetime. Between decorating the space that outlines your personal style to accommodating guests on a regular occasion, owning your own house offers an opportunity to settle down, start a family and enjoy the simpler things in life.


But it’s not as simple as picking out a house at the toy store like you did for your childhood dolls. It takes years to save diligently to pay for all of the upfront costs and behind-the-scenes finances you likely never thought about until buying a home became a reality. 


So what is the process of buying a house in toronto? Are there certain things to know before buying a house in canada? 


You’ve saved the funds. You’ve organized your Pinterest boards of home decor ideas. Now, you’re probably left wondering how to buy a house in Toronto the right way. 


Fear not! We’ve got a list of things to know before buying a house in Canada:




1. Do Your Research

The first tip for buying a home is a preliminary step, or one to give you a sense of the market. Our best piece of advice? Start doing your research on Toronto homes early. One thing new buyers are often surprised by is the actual cost to buy a house in Toronto as they start browsing their options and getting a feel for the market..


Start browsing MLS listings in the neighbourhoods you’re interested in and go to open houses. Pay close attention to the prices on homes and how long they’re on the market for. If you want a simple way to keep an eye on the cost of homes in the area, bookmark our monthly Toronto Real Estate Report.

Search MLS listings by Toronto Neighbourhood

2. Know Your Budget

Having a realistic idea of your budget is one of the key steps to buying a house in Ontario. Get that spreadsheet ready and crunch those numbers. This means knowing what you have for a down payment as well as the funds for closing expenses— all of which will need to be in cash.


You can use our Mortgage Payment Calculator to help you budget for your approximate closing expenses while also seeing what your monthly mortgage payments could be.

Related: Step-by-Step Guide to Saving for a Down Payment

3. Decide Your Must-Haves

One of the most important tips for buying a home is setting those must-haves—especially in Toronto’s HOT market. As you’re looking at listings, make note of the things you like and don’t like about each home. Craft a wish-list of things you would like to have while also establishing your must-haves and the elements you can live without. As you think about your current and future lifestyle, ask yourself the following questions:


  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
  • How long do you plan to live in the home?
  • Is there any possibility for future life changes?

These considerations help you narrow down the list of potential homes and keep you focused when you start searching seriously.


4. Find a Realtor


In a city of 50,000+ real estate agents, how do you choose? Referrals from friends and family are always a great starting point, but as with most things, be sure to do your own research. A few quick tips we mention in our blog How to Choose the Best Real Estate Agent in Toronto, are:


  • Look at a real estate agent’s reviews
  • Check out their website to see if they do many deals
  • Hire an agent who does a lot of business in your desired neighbourhood
  • Look at the quality of their listings. If they use professional photography rather than an iPhone, that might say something about the way they conduct business
  • Trust your gut and always go with your instinct. If you have a bad feeling about a realtor, reach out to one of the other 50,000 in Toronto.

Once you’ve found the right real estate agent, they’ll be able to set up a prospect match which will send you new MLS Listings hitting the market that match your search criteria.




5. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

The first thing your real estate agent is going to have you do is to get a mortgage pre-approval. A mortgage pre-approval will let you know how much a bank or a lender is willing to give you to spend on a home. You may even consider doing this ahead of finding your realtor so that you can get the ball rolling right away. If you’re wondering how to buy a house in Toronto, this is going to give you a realistic idea of what you can actually afford.


A mortgage pre-approval clarifies your monthly mortgage carrying costs to ensure there are no surprises. A potential lender will require you to show your income, credit history, and to disclose your debts. Once approved, you will receive a letter that includes an interest rate guarantee that is typically valid for 90 or 120 days.

Related: 3 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

6. Take Notes on Showings

One thing to know when buying a house for the first time is that when your realtor takes you on showings, you’re likely going to see a lot of houses back-to-back. It can be a lot to remember so it’s never a bad idea to take some notes while on the showings.


Take note of the things you liked and didn’t like so you can review them later with a clear mind. After a day spent seeing 10 maybe even 20 different houses, you’ll be grateful you did.


7. Have Your Deposit Money Ready to Go


In Toronto’s hot real estate market, access to your deposit money is essential. This is our No. 1 tip for buying a home in Toronto. Having your deposit funds ready means that when the right property comes along, you don’t have to scramble at the last minute, potentially missing out on the one.


Having your deposit ready with your offer tells the seller that you mean business. A deposit of 5% of the purchase price is the norm in our marketplace. Should your offer be accepted, the deposit money is required within 24 hours, unless otherwise indicated.


8. Making the Offer


When you find a house that you are just smitten with and decide to make an offer, don’t be too discouraged if you don’t get the first home you offer on. Toronto’s real estate market is very competitive and it’s not unusual for homes to get multiple offers. Be prepared to lose before you win.


Your real estate agent will be able to help you to make a strong offer by gauging the competition, the fair market value, and finding the right course of action to go in strong. This is where the best real estate agent Toronto has to offer is essential.

Related: Offer Conditions and Clauses

9. Have a Home Inspection


When buying a house in Toronto, having a home inspection is always a good idea, especially on older homes. Sometimes your offer may be conditional on a home inspection. Depending on whether it is a sellers market or a buyers market, you may choose to forgo this condition to strengthen your offer. Think carefully about this one, as home inspections have the potential to unveil lots of unexpected expenses down the line. Ask your Realtor for their professional opinion.




10. Closing The Deal

Once your offer has been accepted, CONGRATS, you’re a new homeowner! Be prepared to sign a ton of paperwork. This is when you’ll be working closely with your mortgage broker and real estate lawyer.


This is also when you pay your closing expenses. This will include your Land Transfer Tax, and legal fees. If you’re a first-time buyer, be sure to see which First-Time Buyer Rebates you may be eligible for that can save you money.


If you’re looking to buy a house in Toronto, book a call with us. Our full-service team is here to help you with every step of the home buying process. We have a network of professionals — from mortgage brokers to lawyers — and value-add services to help make moving a breeze!


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