Title is the legal term for ownership of property. Buyers want “good and marketable” title to a property – good title means title appropriate for the buyer’s purposes; marketable title means title the buyer can convey to someone else. Prior to closing, public records are “searched” to determine the previous ownership of the property, as well as prior dealings related to it. The search might reveal, for example, existing mortgages, liens for outstanding taxes, utility charges, etc., registered against the property. At closing the buyer expects property that is free of such claims, so normally they must be cleared up before closing. For example, the seller’s mortgage will be discharged and outstanding monetary expenses (such as taxes and utility charges) will be paid for (or adjusted for) at closing.
Purchasers in most large Canadian centres can add Land Transfer Taxes to their list of closing costs. Unless you live in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or rural Nova Scotia, land transfer taxes (or property purchase tax) are a basic fact of life. These taxes, levied on properties that are changing hands, are the responsibility of the purchaser. Depending on where you live, taxes can range from a half a per cent to two and a half per cent of the total value of the property. Many provinces have multi-tiered taxation systems that can prove complicated. If you purchase a property for $800,000 in Ontario, for example, .5 per cent is charged on the first $55,000, 1 per cent is charged on $55,000 – $250,000, while the $250,000 – $400,000 range is taxed at 1.5 per cent. Your total tax bill? $12,475.00 outside of Toronto, and an additional $11,725 in municipal land transfer taxes if the property is located inside of Toronto. In all cases, ask before you make you purchase and we are happy to work out the land transfer taxes for you.
Closing costs are a list of charges your lawyer presents to you on the closing date of your home. Many people are surprised at the additional costs over and above the price of the home. According to the CMHC and Genworth Financial you should have at least 1.5% of the purchase price for closing costs in addition to the down payment (have around 2.5% to be on the safe side). The costs vary among provinces and cities. An estimate should be made for closing adjustments for bills the seller has prepaid such as property taxes, utility bills, and other charges. Any bills after the closing date are the responsibility of the purchaser. A lawyer will let you know what they are once the various searches have been completed.
HST is payable on the purchase of a newly constructed homes only. If you are purchasing a new home make sure you know who pays this, you or the builder. On the offer the purchase price will say “Plus HST” or “HST Included” and who gets any HST rebates. Many builders have included this cost into the purchase price so the buyer does not have to come up with it at closing.
A professional inspection of the home, top to bottom, is for the benefit of the buyer. A home inspection can cost anywhere from $400 – $500 and is well worth the investment. When hiring a home inspector make sure the inspector has liability insurance just in case they overlook something.
Mortgage lenders require a certificate of fire insurance to be in place from the time you take possession of the home. The amount required is generally the amount of the mortgage or the replacement cost of the home. This cost can vary on the property size, amount of coverage, the insurance company and the municipality. The cost can vary anywhere from $250-$600 annually for most properties.
If your mortgage is insured, (CMHC or Genworth Financial), you will be required to pay the applicable taxes on the insurance premium on closing. While the insurance premium can be added to the mortgage amount, the tax must be paid at closing.
A recent survey of the property is usually required by lenders. If one is not available the cost can start at $1500 for a new survey. In lieu of the survey most lenders today will accept title insurance which can cost considerably less.
Lawyers and notaries charge fees for their services involved in drafting the title deed, preparing the mortgage, and conducting the various searches. Disbursements are out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the process such as registrations, searches, and supplies.
In most provinces new homes are covered by a new home warranty program. The cost to the purchaser for this warranty is approximately $600 and should the builder default or fail to build to an agreed-upon standard the fund will finish or repair the deficiencies to a maximum amount. For more information on Ontario new home warranty visit http://www.tarion.com.