That time I refinanced my mortgage

 

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Note: this is not a sponsored post, but if you need a mortgage broker, I recommend Alex McFadyen and his team at the Mortgage Pug

I recently refinanced my mortgage. Refinancing basically means paying-off a mortgage with a new one. There are several reasons why one might want to do so, including myself.

getting a lower interest-rate

Despite being in a rising rate environment, it is still possible to obtain a low rate, primarily on variable-interest mortgages. At the time of writing this post, rates for a 5-year variable mortgage were as low as 2.20%.

Obtaining a lower rate will save you thousands of dollars in the course of your mortgage. Do not let the mortgage penalty deter you. Do the math before deciding.

getting better terms

Mortgages can be complex products. The good news about this is that you can find a mortgage that will fit your personal needs.

My previous mortgage was not doing anything for me in terms of prepayment privileges.  I could only make one extra payment, once a year! Although I am in no hurry to burn my mortgage, I wanted more flexibility in terms of prepayment.

leveraging, a.k.a. borrowing against equity

The PF police will most likely be all over this, but leveraging is not necessarily a bad financial move, if done correctly and with caution. In my own situation, I called this”utilizing my assets to the best of their abilities”.

To borrow against equity, first you need at least 20% of equity in the property. An appraisal will be done to confirm the amount of equity. This is when things can get out of control, as a lot of people tend to borrow the maximum amount they are eligible for. This in turn results in a maxed-out HELOC or unmanageable mortgage payments.

Just like stocks in the stock-market, home-appreciation fluctuates. Sometimes, it will go up; and sometimes it will go down.

To minimize risk, I borrowed less than the amount I qualified for. The amount borrowed is also way less than what properties in my area currently sell for. I did not let the appraisal dazzle me.

I opted-out for a cash-out refinance instead of an HELOC. Why would I want to leverage, you may ask. I decided to obtain an MBA and will be using the money to pay for my tuition fees, as well as a top-up to my existing savings in order to work part-time for the next 2 years.

I will elaborate more on this in a couple of upcoming posts.

FINAL WORD

In order to determine whether refinancing your mortgage is the right option for you, you need to do the math and figure-out why you want to refinance. There are costs associated with doing this. As indicated above, you will need an appraisal and you will have to pay for a penalty. You will also need a lawyer or a notary.

Buying a rental property (or not)

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Unlike my previous post, the criteria to decide whether to buy a rental property -or not- are very different. This post may also shed some light if, for example, you already own and have accepted a job in another city/province.

First, understand the tax implications

Although you can deduce some expenses from it, rental income is taxed at your marginal rate, if the property is registered under your name.

In Canada, selling your principal residence for profit does not result in taxes levied. This is definitely not the case with a rental property!

Upon selling, any profit you make is considered a capital gain. In Canada, 50% of the capital gains are taxed at your marginal rate, if the property is registered under your name.

It gets a little bit more complicated if you elected to deduct the Capital Cost Allowance -CCA-from your rental income. CCA is a “wear and tear”amount set by Canada Revenue Agency depending on the type of property, the year it was built etc….

CCA is a tax-deference mechanism. It allows you to lower the amount of taxes levied on the rental income. Note you can’t use the CCA to trigger a loss or if you are already claiming a loss.

Upon selling, the CCA amounts previously claimed become 100% taxable, are added to your income and taxed at your marginal rate. It is called “recapture”.

As an individual, claiming CCA usually does not make much sense, unless you are in the highest tax bracket.

Second, cash flow is king, forget the 1% rule (or almost) 

When you live in your property, land appreciation is important. This is what increases your property value. As an investor, and although this is nothing to sneeze at, this is not what you should be looking for.

As a potential landlord, you need to look at your investment from a business perspective. In other words, will the income generated from the property be enough to cover all its expenses and taxes?

A common principle used is the 1% rule, meaning the rent should be 1% of the purchase price.

Unfortunately, in North America, real-estate has become increasingly expensive. Rents have not necessarily followed that trend. It has become almost impossible to find properties meeting the 1% rule.

Which does not mean you should not consider becoming a landlord.

There is another formula to help you determine if a property has cash flow potential, the Gross Rent Multiplier or GRM:

(gross annual rent/purchase price) X 100

If the number is above 8, the property has potential, if it is under 8, pass. If it is above 10, cash flow is guaranteed. This quick and easy formula takes out all the guesswork and emotions from the search.

Once you have your cash flow number, dig into the details: proposed rent, mortgage payment, property tax, condo fees if applicable, potential repairs, estimated income tax..etc and see if it still adds-up.

As a landlord, you won’t be able to postpone or skip maintenance and repairs. It is best to budget for them. Some utility costs, such as Hydro can be passed on to the tenants.

Third, vacancy rate

The lower, the better for you! It is pointless to buy a rental property if there is little demand for rentals….CMHC provides info on the matter.

Final word

It is crucial to leave your emotions at the door when deciding to purchase a rental property or to rent out your main residence.

There are also lots of other factors that could influence your decision such as how much equity you are able to start-up with or the amortization on your mortgage. In Canada, you need at least 20% down for rental properties.

“Landlord-ing” is not for the faint of hearts. It is actually a lot of work.

 

Buying vs renting a home

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Don’t roll your eyes just yet. This is not another debate as to whether renting is better than buying or conversely. I am actually not advocating for either option. I have been both a renter and a homeowner. In fact, I have rented more than I have owned.

I noticed there is a lot of calculators out there to help people determine which option would make the most sense financially.

Most of these calculators are flawed for various reasons; the biggest one being that they calculate based on gross income instead of net. They also don’t take into account non-financial factors, which could have a huge impact on your decision.

So, I have come up with my own analysis: non-financial factors and financial ones.

buying a home is a long-term project

Where do you see yourself in five years? As a rule of thumbs, five years is the minimum amount of time you need to stay in a property to break even or be ahead financially.

During the first five years, you pay more interests than principal on your mortgage. You also need to recoup the closing costs you paid.

Don’t get fooled by crazy real-estate markets like Toronto or Vancouver. It can be tempting to sell  after a year or two, but you would actually be losing money by doing so.

if you need to buy a car or two, keep renting

Transportation costs in Canada are very high. They can -and will- eat-up a huge chunk of your income.

if you have student loans or credit card debt, keep renting…

…at least for the time being. Pay-off your debt or significantly lower it before looking at buying. Debt repayments are a huge financial burden.

A lot of recent graduates seem to be obsessed with becoming homeowners as soon as they receive their degrees. It sounds a little bit crazy to me.

So, you have determined the above first point applies to you and the second and third don’t. Let’s do some basic math.

35% of your net income is the maximum for housing costs

Lenders always use gross income to qualify people for mortgages and other loans. The problem with that is your gross income is not what is deposited in your bank account.

Always use your net income and really avoid going over 35%.

compare apples with apples

Compare the cost of renting and buying based on similar properties in similar neighborhoods. Renting or buying a two bedroom apartment will cost more than a one bedroom or a bachelor. You can find rental info on Craigslist or Kijiji.

include very comprehensive costs

Buying costs do not stop at the mortgage payment. Unfortunately, too many people can’t seem to look past this.

If you are buying a condo or townhouse, include: mortgage, strata/condo fees, monthly portion of property tax & any other municipal taxes, monthly portion of home insurance, monthly portion of Hydro and monthly portion of maintenance.

If you are buying a single, detached home, include: mortgage, monthly portion of property tax & any other municipal taxes, monthly portion of home insurance, monthly portion of maintenance and monthly portion of all utilities: hydro, gas, water….

a word on maintenance costs

As a homeowner, the biggest difference from being a tenant is that you are responsible for repairs and maintenance. And yes, you will encounter these! The costs will be different if you own a condo or a single detached house.

In a condo building, most of the maintenance costs such as landscaping, snow removal, elevator etc…are usually included in your strata/condo fees. Big ticket items, such as the roof, are shared costs. You are only responsible for repairs inside your unit. Costs are overall lower. Take 0.5% to 1% of the proposed purchase price. That’s your yearly costs. Divide by 12.

For a single dwelling, you are 100% responsible for all the costs and they are usually higher. Use 1.5 % to 2% of the proposed purchase price.

You may not spend the amount in a given month or year, but it is best to err on the side of caution.

final word

If the number you end up with is lower than the renting cost AND does not exceed 35% of your net income, happy house-hunting! Otherwise, keep renting and invest the difference.

If home ownership is important to you, you owe it to yourself to do the above basic calculations.

There will always be opportunity costs whether you own or rent. The answer to this old age question is not so clear-cut anymore.

 

Another important reason your mortgage is denied

 

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Please note I am not a mortgage broker. The below is for information purposes only.

You decided to become a home owner, saved for a down payment, got pre-approved for a mortgage, found your dream home and made an offer.

Then, to your surprise and dismay, your mortgage application is denied. Hopefully, your offer was subject to mortgage approval!

yes, it is still possible for a mortgage to be denied after pre-approval

And it is not necessarily for the reason you think. A mortgage pre-approval is the maximum amount a lender would loan you, based on your income, down-payment and credit history.

Once you made an offer, the documents go through an Underwriter. The role of the Underwriter is to assess whether your loan request is an acceptable risk to the lender….or not.

Besides income and down payment, there is a crucial detail the Underwriter will focus on: the property itself.

a mortgage can be denied if there is an issue with the property

Lenders  want to ensure their “investment” will provide a handsome return for as long as possible. They also want to make sure they are not overpaying and that the collateral – i.e. the property- is safe and sound.

In order to determine this, a lender will look at both the physical life and the remaining economic life of a property.

To simplify, it means the current state of the property and how repairs can extend its life. An appraiser is usually used to determine the above points.

If the appraisal doesn’t check out, the application is usually denied. For example, most lenders are wary about financing foreclosures, even if you do and pay for any repair.

the type of property can also cause problems

In Canada, most lenders ask for an appraisal for single, detached houses. If you are buying a condo, you are not necessarily off the hook either.

The underwriter will definitely take a look at the building history, finances and current conditions.

Too many tenants? Your application could be denied. Tenants do not have a personal stake in the building and can be perceived as detrimental by some lenders.

Building needs major repairs? Your application could be also be denied, particularly if the strata corporation does not have the money to pay for them.

Buying on plan? Potentially denied. A lot of lenders won’t finance “non-existent” properties, or will only finance if at least 70% of units are sold.

final word

Mortgage underwriting is a complex process. Different lenders have different criteria. The industry is also heavily regulated and constantly changing.

If one lender denies you, try another one. If it fails, you will have to look at other properties, and although disappointing, it may not be a bad thing in the long run.

Buying a foreclosed property

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Note: I am neither a Realtor® nor a Lawyer. This post is for information purposes only. It also focuses on the province of British-Columbia, where I live. 

A property is considered in foreclosure when a lender obtains  an order of sale from a Court and the owner is unable to redeem the property. In plain terms, this happens when an owner is behind on their mortgage payments.

Let’s take an overview of the process for buying a foreclosed property, as it differs from buying a traditional property.

the price on a foreclosure will be close to market value

Unlike in the United States for example, Canada’s Courts protect the owner, not the lender or the buyer. The sale price is as to be close to market value as possible. You won’t be able to buy a property at a deep discount. Lenders work with a Realtor® and the property is listed on the MLS®.

That being said, the listing price will usually be lower. There are a few reasons for this: the property is usually sold to the highest bidder in court, the property is sold “as is”, and if after all fees are deducted there is a profit, the lender has to write a check to the owner….most lenders don’t want to do this.

the only subject you can include is “subject to court approval”

That’s right, you are reading correctly. Unlike a regular purchase, you cannot include the usual subjects like financing, home inspection, review of documents etc…in your offer. This is a legal requirement. The offer presented in Court has to be free of subjects. When the lender/trustee approves your offer, you have five business days to get your affairs in order, i.e. obtaining financing, do a home inspection if you can etc…

This can be a bit tricky, which brings me to the very important next point.

YOU ARE BUYING THE PROPERTY “AS IS, WHERE IS”

Neither the lender or the Court makes any representations or warranties as to the condition of the property. Many documents may not be available to review. There will be no property disclosure statement. Chattels are not included in the sale, as the lender does not own them. A chattel is an item that is removable from the property, such as appliances. In an nutshell, you assume all the risks related to the condition of the property.

A lot of lenders will also not finance foreclosures.

once accepted, your offer becomes public

When the lender accepts your offer, a date in Court is set. Your offer is part of the public court filing for everyone to see.

be prepared for court

On the set date, you need to be present. You also need to have a deposit in hand. Unlike, a regular purchase, the deposit needs to be included with your offer.

The Judge -or Master-  will ask if the owner can redeem the property. If not, they will ask if they are any other parties interested. If yes, this is when the bidding war occurs. You only have one shot at this. All bids are presented in sealed envelopes. Usually, the property is sold to the highest bidder and/or the bidder with the highest deposit.

If the judge approves your offer, it becomes legally binding as the only subject is removed. You also need to pay close attention to details like spelling, names and legal description of the property, as there is no title transfer in a foreclosure. Instead the Order Approving Sale is filed at the Land Title Office. If there are mistakes, the Office could refuse it.

final words

Buying a foreclosed property is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. Should you decide to take this route, you will need to leave your emotions at the door. You will also need to be patient, as the process takes more time.

Don’t be lured by the perceived lower price. Since you are buying “as is”, you have no idea of the actual condition of the property. You could face big costs upon possession.

 

 

 

Buying a pre-sale property

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Both the real-estate and construction sectors are hot commodities in Metro Vancouver. New developments are spurting everywhere and everyday. Clever marketing makes it sound and look very attractive to buy a piece of property without actually seeing the finished product. But is it really the case? Let’s explore!

A pre-sale or an off-plan is an agreement between a buyer and a developer, where a developer agrees to supply a property by a certain date in the future. The buyer agrees to pay an initial deposit and then, once the property is built, complete the purchase. Deposits are usually paid in installments over a number of months or years. This is what helps the developer with obtaining further financing.

The major advantage of a pre-sale is that the property will be brand-new and in most cases customized to the buyer’s tastes. The property will also have warranty protection, usually 2-5-10 years . If something goes wrong during that period, it can be fixed at no costs to owners. An important advantage is also the building of equity. As house prices rise so does the contract on the property.

Pre-sales are hugely popular with investors. Pricing is usually a bit lower and they can usually see a profit before the property is built, and because it is brand new, they can rent it for a higher price. There is also a 7-day rescission period, in which the buyer can decide to opt-out.

Now, on to the disadvantages, as yes, there are a few.

  • GST is mandatory, 5% on top of the purchase price, which could mean thousands of dollars more
  • You may not qualify for a mortgage on a pre-sale. A lot of lenders are reluctant to pay for something that does not exist. A lender may also agree to fund only what the property is worth when built. It could be less than your purchase price.
  • Since the property will take a few years to be built, a lot can happen during that time: changes in your circumstances, in the real-estate market, in mortgage rules….you have to be aware of this before committing.
  • There could be delays in construction or in delivery date and you will be required to pay occupancy fees, even when you don’t live in the property. Nothing you can do about that!
  • Once you have signed, you can’t back-out of the purchase. Reassigning the contract could be difficult.
  • You most likely won’t be able to sale your property before the developer has sold all the units/lots.
  • The end-result could be different from what you asked.

As with everything, you need to do your own due diligence and research before buying a pre-sale and assess your risk tolerance. Be sure you have a lawyer or a realtor review the documents from the developer. The majority of developers will try to discourage you from having a lawyer or a realtor assist you. Don’t get fooled by this.

Suburban life ain’t cheaper

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Extraordinary real-estate costs in cities like Vancouver and Toronto are pushing people further and further away from said cities.

A single detached house in Vancouver costs close to 1.5 millions. A townhouse costs  about 500K and a condo 350K. No wonder people rush to the suburbs in hopes of snapping-up properties at a somewhat lower price.

The problem with this approach is two-fold: first, it drives prices up in the suburbs as well. Bidding wars and no-subject offers have become the norm there too. Second, it will cost you more if you have to buy a car or two.

A recent study compared the costs of housing in Langley with the costs of commuting Downtown Vancouver for 25 years. There are very few properties assessed at over a million  in Langley. However, the transportation costs would be close to 565K over the course of a quarter century. Staggering! On the other hand, someone living in Vancouver would spend “only” 298K in transportation costs, over the same period of time.

The choice of Langley is not random. Public transit is fairly limited in this city, making a car a necessity. Technically, one could go Downtown Vancouver from Langley with bus/skytrain but it would take them close to 2 hours. There are also fewer job opportunities.

Case in point with my own story: before buying my first condo in Surrey, I rented in North Vancouver and New Westminster. I worked mainly Downtown Vancouver and have been calling New West my workplace for close to 5 years. I never rented Downtown Vancouver, as I simply couldn’t afford it and didn’t want to. Rents are a waste of money in this part of the city!

With some previous salaries I made, I simply couldn’t afford a car, but I also didn’t need one. When I was in North Van and worked Downtown, I would simply take the Seabus. It took me 15 minutes to get to work. The best was when I moved to New West and also found a job there. I would walk to work.

If I needed a car, I was member of a couple of car-share organizations. It was way cheaper than owning one. I would also claim the monthly bus pass as a tax credit. Financially, it looked like an idyllic situation, when it was not necessarily the case.

The black point is that I was renting when it no longer made sense for me to do so, both financially and personally. I am not getting into the rent vs.buy debate here!

Back to my own story, I didn’t qualify for anything in Vancouver or closer suburbs, so I turned to further suburbs, namely Surrey and Langley. With public transit more limited, I had to buy a car, which added $ 800 to my monthly budget. Buying was cheaper than renting, but when I factored in that extra $ 800, I wasn’t so ahead anymore!

The yearly cost of a compact car in Canada is just under $ 10 000. If you have a bigger car or a truck, that amount will be higher. If you have 2 cars, it will be double.

Living in the suburbs used to be a no-brainer. It is definitely no longer the case. Nowadays, suburban vs. urban living is a trade-off between housing and transportation costs. Before deciding to move to the suburbs, whether as a renter or owner, take a look at your transportation costs and commute time.

As for me, I do not regret buying in the suburbs and getting a car, despite the extra expense. My car will be paid off next year and I anticipate my transportation costs to actually be lower for a few years after.

Most importantly, I enjoy my suburban life.

BC home equity partnership, friend of foe?

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Last month, the BC liberal government announced a initiative to “help” first-time home-buyers enter the increasingly expensive real-estate market. The province consistently sees the highest prices when it comes to housing.

You can find all the details about this program here.

Of course, the announcement sent quite a shock wave across the personal finance and banking communities, as basically the program is a loan up to $ 37 500.00 to help with the down-payment requirements. The loan is registered as a second mortgage on the property.

The first five years are both payment and interest-free, but if you sell you will have to pay the full amount back at the time of conveyance. After the five year period, you will have to make payments both on your mortgage and this loan. This is the element that can set people up for a financial disaster, depending on their circumstances. A lot can happen in 5 years, including a raise in interest rates.

Living in British-Columbia is very expensive, not just housing-wise. British-Columbians pay the highest amounts on car insurance, gas and daycare fees. Groceries aren’t cheap either. Unfortunately, salaries don’t always match these high living costs.

Genworth, one of the mortgage-default insurers in Canada, announced this loan would be treated as a non-traditional, borrowed down-payment -which it is- and included into the debt service calculations, effectively lowering the mortgage amount one would qualify for. On top of this, the mortgage default insurance rate will be higher. No doubt CHMC will follow suit as well as a lot of lenders.

So long for improving accessibility and affordability, particularly in Metro Vancouver!

The only tiny advantage I see in this program is that it technically allows homeowners to have a higher equity in their property, as it boosts their initial down-payment. But the equity will never be higher than 19.90%, thus mortgage-default insurance will still be required.

As most people in the PF blogosphere, I don’t think this program is a good idea. Luckily, it is limited to first-time home buyers and also in time.

If you need to borrow money to fund the minimum down-payment requirement and closing costs, you can’t afford to buy a property, period. It also applies to the bank of Mom and Dad.

Mortgage penalty explained

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It has been over a month since my last entry. My life has been crazy-busy this year and I really needed a break. I took time-off work and I also had family visiting, which was exactly what I needed. I realized I also needed a break from my daily routine.

I am definitely more settled in my condo and new city. I enjoy living there and I know I made the right move by selling my previous condo.

Going through the madness that is real-estate in Vancouver, I have to write another post on the subject of mortgage penalty.

In Canada, when you pay-off your mortgage early, lenders have the right to charge you a penalty for doing so. Mortgages are a huge business here, and even with low-interest rates, lenders are turning massive profits.

The penalty you will be assessed depends on whether you have a fixed rate or a variable rate mortgage. As indicated in their names, the interest rate on a fixed rate mortgage will remain the same during the term of the mortgage. A variable rate, on the other hand will fluctuate.

This is because the interest rate on a fixed mortgage is determined by the bond market whereas the variable rate is determined by the prime rate set by the Bank of Canada.

This also explains why there are 2 different penalties: 3-month interest or Interest Rate differential -IRD-.

For a variable rate mortgage, the penalty will always be 3-month interest, as mandated by the National Housing Act.

For simplicity, let’s say you have $ 100 000 left on your mortgage with an interest rate of 4.00%. The penalty would be:

4.00  X  100 000  X  (3/12)  = $ 1 000.00.  Pretty straightforward.

There are 2 different ways of calculating the IRD. One could impact you in a significant way.

Once again, for simplicity, we will assume  a $ 100 000 mortgage at 4.00 % with 24 months remaining on the term.

With a standard IRD calculation, the lender will take the current interest rate for a 2-year term fixed rate mortgage, matching the 24 months left on your mortgage.

Let’s say the rate on this is 2.75%. The lender will the calculate the difference between this rate and your mortgage rate. i.e 4.00 – 2.75 = 1 .25.

The penalty is then calculated as follow:

100 000  X (1.25 /12)  X  24  = $ 2 500.00.  More than double the 3-month penalty!

A few lenders use a loophole in the Interest Act for the second way to calculate the IRD. The Act does not specify which rate should be used to calculate the penalty.

Let’s keep the same numbers as above. Some lenders use the posted rates instead of the contract/discounted rates, i.e. the rates you actually pay or would pay.

You obtained a rate of 4.00% but the posted rate on the day you got your mortgage was 5.25 %. The lender gave you a discount of 1.25 %.

The posted rate for a 2-year mortgage is now 3. 00%.

The lender will use an IRD factor of 2.25, i.e. 4.00 – (3.00 -1.25).

In terms of penalty, it amounts to:

100 000 X (2.25 /12) X 24 = $ 4 500.00, more than quadruple the 3-month penalty!

I know all these calculations look boring but it is crucial to understand how your lender calculates your mortgage penalty if you have a fixed rate mortgage.

I was lucky that my previous lender did not use the posted rate. They charged me a 3-month penalty as it was higher than the IRD. Had they used the posted rate, I would have paid over $ 4 000 in penalty. When I signed the documents, I did not pay attention to this.

Most people don’t, unfortunately.

For my second mortgage, I went with a variable rate.

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Closing costs in real-estate

I am finally all moved-in in my new home sweet home. I am glad this whole “real-estate thing” is finally over. I decided to sell my previous condo in mid-April. By the time it was ready for sale, it was the end of May.

It was listed early June and sold on the 14th at over-asking. I was lucky to be able to buy my current home shortly after. That being said, the completion and possession dates were mid-August for both condos.

I had been living in boxes and more or less camping since the end of June. I was happy to take all my belongings out of those boxes.

Closing costs are payment for all the necessary items to conclude or “close” a real-estate deal. These fees are paid by both sellers and buyers but are different.

For the 2 transactions, I had budgeted $ 29K in closing costs….they came in at just above $ 25K. Staggering, isn’t it?

These fees creep-up very easily and add-up to big dollar amounts. They are always a surprise for most people, including myself. Here is a non-exhaustive breakdown of them:

When selling

  • Realtor commission:  in BC, it is usually 7% on the first $ 100K and 2.5% on the remaining balance
  • Legal fees: to clear the title. The fees are lower when selling as there isn’t much involved.
  • Mortgage penalty, if applicable: if you break your mortgage before term, lenders will charge you a penalty, either 3-month interest or Interest Rate Differential -IRD-
  • Mortgage discharge fee, if applicable: most lenders will also charge you an administrative fee to discharge the mortgage

Upon selling, the buyer will usually reimburse you for your share of the property tax and strata fees -if you buy a condo-.

When buying

  • Legal fees: these will be higher for purchasing, as more work is involved
  • Property transfer tax: cash grab from most governments. In BC, the rates are: 1% on the first $200K, 2% on the remaining balance up to $ 2 millions, 3% up to $ 3 millions. If you are a first-time home-buyer and your property is under $475K, you are exempt from this tax in BC.
  • Down-payment: your biggest closing cost by far!
  • Mortgage default insurance: if you buy with less than 20% down
  • Mortgage application fee: most lenders will waive this, but some will charge you an administrative fee to process your application
  • Title insurance: most lenders will require this. It is to insure you are the rightful owner of the property
  • Appraisal fees: if you buy a detached house, the lender will ask for an assessment of its value to insure you are not overpaying. It is less common for a condo
  • Land survey: for detached houses only. A lender may require a detailed plan of the land showing property limits, easements and rights of way.
  • Interest adjustment: You need to pay the interests on the mortgage for the month you close
  • Other adjustments: you will most likely have to reimburse the seller  for their share of the property taxes and strata fees
  • Fire insurance: lenders require to be first payee in case of a fire. Insurance companies will charge a fee to prepare the applicable document

Other fees that are not included in the statement prepared by lawyers/notaries:

  • Home inspection: if you can do one, that is great but it costs around $ 500.00
  • Moving company: unless you have willing friends, you will need people to move your belongings to your new place
  • Home insurance 
  • Utility hook-up & transfer: BC hydro charges $ 12.50 to transfer your account. Your cable company may also charge you fees
  • Locksmith: it is probably a good idea to have the locks of your new place re-keyed

As you can see the list is pretty long! When it comes to closing costs, you are better off thinking “high” than “low”. They will always be higher than what you think.

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