Buying a home is exciting, but no one ever said it’s cheap. There’s your mortgage payment, of course. But there are also several one-time costs and ongoing expenses you need to plan for.
When you’re out looking at homes, it’s important to remember that the purchase price is not the final price you pay. If you’re aware of additional one-time and ongoing costs and plan for them, you’ll be in good shape when buying your home.
There are a number of one-time costs you may have to pay before you can unpack and settle into your new home. These can add up quickly. For example, as a general rule, you should plan to save 4% of the purchase price of your home for closing costs.
- Appraisal fees: Depending on the type of property you’re purchasing; your lender may require an independent evaluation to determine the property’s value.
- Home inspection fees: If you’re buying an older home, you may want to consider a home inspection to identify any major structural problems with the home. This may also be requested by your lender.
- Land transfer tax: Most neighbourhoods require you to pay a one-time land transfer tax when you take ownership of a property. The amount of tax is usually based on the home’s purchase price. Ask your real estate agent for an estimate.
- Legal fees: You’ll need the services of a lawyer or notary during the purchase process. Fees vary, so ask for an estimate upfront.
- Title insurance: Title insurance protects you if someone challenges the ownership of your property. The cost varies, but it could add hundreds of dollars to your closing costs.
Other one-time costs
- Down payment: A down payment is amount of the money you pay towards the purchase of your new home. The difference between the purchase price and your down payment is the amount of your mortgage loan.
- Mortgage default insurance: If you have less than 20% for your down payment, you’ll be required to purchase mortgage default insurance. This protects the lenders in case you fail to make your payments. You can make a one-time payment or add the cost to your mortgage.
- Moving expenses: Moving your belongings can be expensive – especially if you have big items like furniture and appliances to bring to your new home. You could cut costs by asking family and friends to help.
- Upgrade charges: If you’re buying a newly constructed home and have changed elements of its design, your builder will charge you for each change. You can pay these costs in cash or you may be able to add them onto your mortgage
- Utility set-up costs: Some utility companies, such as hydro, electricity, gas, cable and internet, charge a fee when you set up an account for the first time or change your address. Check with your local service providers ahead of time to determine how much you need to budget for utility set-up
After you move in, you're home free, right? Not quite. You also need to plan for the ongoing costs of being a homeowner and regular living expenses.
- Condo maintenance fees: If you buy a condo, you’ll be required to pay monthly fees for the maintenance of the common areas of the property (lobby, parking, grounds, etc.). Your condo developer should be able to tell you what these fees will be.
- Home/property insurance: This insurance protects your valuable assets in case of fire, theft or other damage. Costs vary depending on the size and location of your home as well as the value of your personal property.
- Mortgage life insurance: This is an optional life insurance you can choose to purchase when you get your mortgage. It repays some or all of your mortgage debt in the event of death. Mortgage disability and job loss insurance are also available.
- Mortgage payments: Your mortgage payments include a part of the original loan amount and interest.
- Monthly utilities: Utilities include services like hydro, electricity, gas, cable and internet.
- Property and school taxes: Homeowners pay taxes to their municipality or town for local services such as hospitals, schools and garbage collection. They’re calculated based on the location and size of your property, as well as the value of your home. Tax information is included with the listing when a home goes up for sale, and you can also ask your real estate agent about it. You can pay property taxes directly to the town or have them included in your regular mortgage payments.
- Property maintenance/repair costs: This category includes expenses that keep your new home in working order such as furnace maintenance, roof repairs, eavestroughs maintenance, drain repair and tree trimming etc.
- Routine costs: These are the costs that maintain your lifestyle – for example, groceries and clothing. You can use a budget tool to help keep track of your expenses and identify areas where you may be able to cut back. The lower your spending, the higher your savings.
- Renovations: If you plan to upgrade your new home, you’ll need to put money aside to pay for the renovations. You could also take out a loan but, if you do, the monthly payment must be added to your budget.
- Emergency savings fund: This is your “just in case” money used to cover the cost of unplanned expenses. It’s important for everyone to have emergency savings, and setting aside a little money each month can help you build your fund.
Run the numbers before you buy
Taking time to estimate your one-time and ongoing costs before you buy your new home means you’re less likely to face surprises after you move in. And that means you’ll get to enjoy your new home, instead of worrying about how to pay for it.
Land transfer tax
Home inspection fees
Utility set-up costs
Mortgage default insurance
Property & school taxes
Property maintenance/report costs
Condo maintenance fees
Household living expenses
Emergency savings fund