For Buyers

The elements of an offer
Here’s a quick reference to everything you need to know about making an on offer on a property.

1. Price
Depends on the market and the buyers, but generally, the price offered is different from the asking price.

2. Deposit
Shows the buyer’s good faith and will be applied against the purchase price of the home when the sale closes. Your agent can advise you on a suitable amount to offer.

3. Terms
Includes the total price the buyer is offering as well as the financing details. The buyer may be arranging his/her own financing or may ask to assume your existing mortgage if you have an attractive rate.

4. Conditions
These might include "subject to home inspection," "subject to the buyer obtaining financing," or "subject to the sale of the purchaser’s property."

5. Inclusions and exclusions
These may include appliances and certain fixtures or decorative items, such as window coverings or light fixtures.

6. Closing or possession date
Generally, the day the title of the property is transferred to the buyer and funds are received by the seller, unless otherwise specified (except in Manitoba and Quebec).


Protect yourself with a home inspection
That gorgeous house on the corner lot may look great, but it could be hiding all sorts of expensive, annoying problems, from a leaky roof to faulty wiring to a mouldy basement.

Make sure your home is solid and secure inside and out before you buy it. A home inspector will determine structural and mechanical soundness, identify problem areas, provide cost estimates for any work required, and generate a report. It’s a great way to avoid headaches and costly problems that can turn a dream home into a money pit.

If you decide to go ahead and buy a home with issues that have been flagged by your inspector, you can base your offer on how much potential repairs and upgrades may cost.

Home inspection costs range according to size, age and location of the home. Your Royal LePage sales representative can recommend a reputable home inspection service or arrange for an inspector to visit your property.


8 things to look for when you buy
When you fall in love with a home, the things you like about it can blind you to its problems. Next time you go to an open house or tour a property with an agent, keep your eyes open with these top tips:

1. Take a look at general upkeep. Is it clean? Are lawns left uncut? Do walls need paint? If the small stuff hasn’t been taken care of, there’s a good chance that bigger issues have been ignored as well.

2. Test it. Try out lights, faucets, toilets, air conditioning and major appliances.

3. Check for water damage. Look at ceilings and drywall for stains and bulges. Water that works its way in through a leaky roof or a cracked foundation can rot wood, create mildew and destroy possessions.

4. Watch for "spongy" floors. Take note of soft, springy sections, squeaky or uneven areas - these can be a sign that costly floor repairs are needed.

5. Check doors and windows. Make sure they fit snugly in their jambs and operate smoothly. Feel for drafts. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking - if wood isn’t protected from moisture, it will rot.

6. Look at the foundation. If you see deep cracks or loose mortar and bricks, there may be a significant structural problem. Soggy areas near the foundation are also a warning sign.

7. Make sure there’s enough storage space. If you are moving from a home with large closets and a shed, make sure your new house is able to store an equivalent amount of belongings.

8. Measure. Make sure your furniture will fit into your new house.

These tips are for your own first (or second) look at a home. For true peace of mind, you should always hire a certified home inspector before you buy.


Determine what you can afford
Buying a home involves both one-time costs and more regular monthly expenses. It’s important that you take both into account when you’re figuring out how much you can spend on a home.

The largest one-time cost is the down payment, which usually represents upto 25% of the total price of the property. Then, in addition to the actual purchase price, there are a number of other expenses that you may be expected to pay for.

Typical One-Time Expenses

  • Mortgage application and appraisal fee (paid at time of application)
  • Appraisal fee (paid at inspection)
  • Property inspection (optional) (paid at closing)
  • Legal fees (paid at closing)
  • Legal disbursements (paid at closing)
  • Deed and/or mortgage registration (paid at closing)
  • Property survey (sometimes provided by seller) (paid at closing)
  • Land Transfer, Deed Tax or PropertyPurchase Tax (in Quebec within3 months following signing) (paid at closing)
  • Mortgage interest adjustment andtake over fee (if applicable) (paid at closing)
  • Adjustments for fuel, taxes, etc. (paid at closing)
  • Mortgage insurance (and application fee if applicable) (paid at closing)
  • Home and property insurance (paid at closing and on-going)
  • Connection charges for utilities such as gas, water and electricity (paid on date of move)
  • Moving expenses (paid on date of move)

Other costs may include landscaping, decorating, furnishings, appliances and repairs. Typical monthly costs include mortgage payments, maintenance, insurance, condo fees, property taxes and utilities.


Title insurance explained
What is title insurance? Do you need it? Here’s some information that can help you make an informed decision.

What does "title to property" mean?
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.

Why do I need title insurance?
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 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.

Sometimes problems regarding title are not discovered before closing. They can make the property less marketable when the buyer subsequently sells, and can cost money to fix. For example, the survey might have failed to show that a dock and boathouse built on a river adjoining a vacation property was built without permission. The buyer of the property could be out-of-pocket if he is later forced to remove the dock and boathouse. Or, the property might have been conveyed to a previous owner fraudulently, in which case there is the risk that the real owner may come forward at some point and demand their rights with respect to the property.

Who is protected with title insurance?
Title insurance policies can be issued in favour of a purchaser, a lender, or both. Lenders will sometimes require title insurance as a condition of making the loan. Title insurance protects purchasers and/or lenders against loss or damage sustained if a claim that is covered under the terms of the policy is made.

Types of risks that are usually covered include:

  • survey irregularities
  • forced removal of existing structures
  • claims due to fraud, forgery or duress
  • unregistered easements and rights-of-way
  • lack of pedestrian or vehicular access to the property
  • work orders
  • zoning
  • set back non-compliance or deficiencies, etc.

For a risk to be covered, it has to have existed as of the date of the policy. As with any type of insurance policy, certain types of risks might not be covered. For example, native land claims and environmental hazards are normally excluded. Be sure to talk to your lawyer about the types of risks that may not be included in your policy.

The insured purchaser is protected against actual loss or damage sustained up to the amount of the policy, which is based on the purchase price. As well, some policies have inflation coverage, which means that if the fair market value of the property increases, the policy amount will also increase.

How long will I be covered?
Title insurance remains in effect as long as the insured purchaser has title to the land. Some policies also protect those who received title as a result of the purchaser’s death, or certain family members (e.g., a spouse or children) to whom the property may have been transferred for a nominal amount.

The premium for title insurance is paid once, at the time of purchase. In Canada, the purchaser generally pays for the title insurance, though there can be situations where the seller pays for it.

Protection and peace of mind
Title insurance can help ensure that a closing is not delayed due to defects in title. And if an issue arises, the title insurance covers the legal fees and expenses associated with defending the title and pays in the event of loss.