Costs to expect when buying, selling a house
Don't be surprised by creeping closing costs
Don't be surprised by creeping closing costs
The purchase price you negotiate when buying or selling a home is just one part of the ultimate cost for a home. In addition to the purchase price there are a number of other fees—known as closing fees—that need to be factored in to any purchase or sale price. To help you plan the purchase or sale of your property, here’s a snapshot of the extra fees you can expect to pay out of pocket once you’ve settled on the home sale price.
Most provinces and some major cities impose a land transfer tax that is calculated as a percentage of the home’s purchase price. The formula varies from province to province (and from city to city) so it’s best to use an online calculator. For this example, we’ll assume the purchase of a $350,000 home in Toronto, Ontario. Based on the calculator, a buyer would have to pay a provincial and a city land transfer tax that equates to $6,950. If, however, you were a first-time home buyer, you’d get $5,225 in rebates on those fees.
Most banks won’t charge a fee to set-up a mortgage or to do a mortgage-related appraisal, but some still do. If your bank does charge you, expect to pay between $250 and $500 for a mortgage-related appraisal. Also, if you’re putting less than 20% down on the home you’re buying, you will need to pay mortgage default insurance—and the less money you use to purchase the home, the more money you’ll be charged in default insurance fees. To help you calculate here is the sliding scale fee charged by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation and Genworth—the two largest mortgage default loan insurance providers.
80% to 85% of purchase price: 1.80% of mortgage + PST
85% to 90% of purchase price: 2.40% of mortgage + PST
90% to 95% of purchase price: 3.60% of mortgage + PST
over 95%: 3.85% of purchase price + PST
Keep in mind, too, that mortgage default insurance fees will also be charged on amortization that is longer than 25 years, even if you put more than 20% down on a home. According to one mortgage broker, for every extra five years (above 25 year amortization), the premium increases by 0.2%. Also, some high-risk borrowers, such as self-employed or those with large debt loads, may end up being charged a mortgage broker fee—a finder’s fee that can add an extra $1,000 up to $9,000 on your mortgage closing costs.
Once a sale is finalized, your lawyer will need to calculate the adjustment costs. These are costs the seller prepaid and can include property taxes, utility bills, heating oil, lawn care or property maintenance services as well as other annual contracts. For metered services, such as hydro, gas or water, the meters are read on closing day (the day the house changes ownership), to verify down to the last cent what the seller and buyer owes. For other annual charges, an adjustment—which looks like a credit—is given to the seller, meaning they will get reimbursed for the expenses they have already paid to maintain the home.
If you’re buying a home and getting a mortgage, you will be required to get home insurance coverage. While the cost varies widely depending on the home you buy, where it’s located and the type of coverage you require, expect to pay at least $800 per year for coverage.
A lawyer will do a series of searches and generate a slew of documents when processing a home sale transaction. This includes: a title search (which verifies that a seller legally owns the property and searches utility and tax departments to make sure there are no liens against the property), registering the title deed and mortgage, where applicable septic tank and potable water searches. In most cases, lawyers will charge anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for this portion of the work. But on top of these fees there are also disbursement costs, fax/phone and mail costs and other costs of doing business.
While title insurance is not mandatory it is a very good idea. It protects you against mortgage fraud, identity theft and forgery and can protect you against fees and costs that were not caught in the searches your lawyer conducted prior to the sale (and this happens!). The typical cost is about $300 on a $500,000 home.
The biggest fee sellers will have to pay are the commission fees of the realtors involved with the sale of the property. Generally speaking, the total commission cost is 5%—2.5% for each agent (although, this split is different in the province of B.C.). That said, you can always try and negotiate a lower commission rate, but this needs to be agreed upon prior to the listing and sale of your home. Remember, too, that GST is added to these fees.
You will need a lawyer to discharge the title for the property and the mortgage and to verify that all prepaid expenses are returned to you and that utility and other services are up to date in payments. Expect to pay $500 to $1,500 for an uncomplicated transaction (although, most lawyers charge less for a sale than a purchase), plus disbursements.
If you ended your mortgage—known as a “closed” mortgage—before you mortgage matures you will need to pay penalties and discharge fees. For a variable rate mortgage, the penalties equate to three months worth of mortgage payments, plus a discharge fee of $200 to $600, depending on the lender. For a fixed rate mortgage, the penalties can be much, much higher so it’s a good idea to call your lender and ask what you will need to pay to break your mortgage. Keep in mind, if you’re looking at a high penalty to break your mortgage you may be able to transfer it to a new property for a significantly smaller fee.
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