Buying a house is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime and a lot goes into the planning and finances of purchasing a home, especially if it is your first home. From a down-payment, to repairs & maintenance, to purchasing furniture and appliances, there are hidden expenses that one might not think of when in the home-buying process.
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers – a panel of RE/MAX sales associates throughout Canada- to narrow down a list of the top six expenses that buyers often forget about when purchasing a home.
Property/Land Transfer Tax
The Property Transfer Tax (PTT) or Land Transfer Tax (LTT) is one hefty expense that our RE/MAX Influencers agree is often unaccounted for in advance of the purchase. All provinces except for Alberta and Saskatchewan have this tax, which differs between provinces. In BC, for example, as explained on the Government of British Columbia’s website, when a buyer purchases or gains an interest in property that is registered at the Land Title Office, they are responsible for paying PTT and filing a property transfer tax form. Meanwhile in Toronto, home buyers must pay both a provincial and municipal LTT. BC, Ontario and Toronto, as well as Prince Edward Island, all offer rebates to first-time buyers to help offset the cost.
“At the time of purchase, the [property] tax owing by the seller has normally been accounted for with the clients, but not that it’s going to be due. If someone takes possession in October, they will pay the seller back for November and October, but then only have 6 months to save up 12 months worth of tax before it’s due. There is not enough discussion with buyers on this and given that they are normally ‘tapped out’ after the down payment and closing costs, it can be an unexpected bill if they haven’t owned a home before,” says Taylor Hack, RE/MAX River City, Edmonton, AB.
While home, fire and content insurance is usually an expense that is considered right away during the home buying process, there are other types of insurance that can be overlooked. These can include things like title insurance, life insurance and mortgage insurance can come as surprise unexpected costs. When planning and going through the numbers associated with purchasing a home, make sure you take all types of insurance into account.
One important thing that every homebuyer should have done is a home inspection on the property they are planning on purchasing. While some sellers may opt to have a pre-inspection done, it is always a good idea to have a home inspector look at the home to ensure that there are no issues with the land or structure of the home. The cost of a home inspection can often be overlooked, so it is important to remember to allocate a portion of your budget towards a home inspector when the time comes to purchase your home!
While sales tax is generally only applicable to newly constructed houses and condos, as well as services related to the real estate transaction (such as agents’ commissions and legal fees) this cost is often overlooked – especially by first-time homebuyers. If you are looking at purchasing a new construction property, make sure you ask about the sales tax payable, and take the time to calculate it so you can budget for this amount.
Another expense that is often forgotten during the whirlwind process of purchasing a home is that of lawyer fees. The exact amount varies depending on the purchase price of the home and differs based on the lawyer/notary. The legal expenses also often include ordering a title search and registering title.
“If we do not educate homebuyers, they usually don’t know about lawyer fees or sometimes have a skewed number of what the average lawyer costs,” says Sarah Koeckhoven, RE/MAX Preferred Choice, Spruce Grove, AB.
When estimating the cost of buying a home, don’t forget to include legal fees in the total list of main costs that need to be considered!
For more advice on home buying and selling, contact John and Anna Ostapyk!