Blog

Category: First-time buyers

  • 3 Questions You Need to Ask Your Alberta Real Estate Lawyer

    3 Questions You Need to Ask Your Alberta Real Estate Lawyer

    If you just firmed up your purchase or sale (Congratulations!), you’ll likely need to choose a Alberta Real Estate lawyer to facilitate your closing.  

    No matter which lawyer you choose, asking the right questions before moving forward with having the lawyer (or law firm) who is going to handle your transaction can make the entire experience smoother and more predictable. 

    Here are some questions you must ask any Alberta Real Estate lawyer when buying or selling a house:

    What Are the Fees, INCLUDING Disbursements?

    Legal fees are the professional fees your lawyer charges for completing your real estate transaction. In addition to legal fees, disbursements are third-party costs paid by your lawyer in connection with completing your transaction. Disbursements usually include costs such as land title fees, tax searches, title insurance, and courier costs.

    Can I Sign My Documents Virtually and How Do You Conduct Your Virtual Meetings?

    An Alberta Real Estate lawyer can now witness real estate closing documents remotely. This means you can meet with your lawyer through video-conferencing to have your closing documents signed and witnessed. However, not all lawyers conduct virtual signing meetings in the same manner.

    At Deeded, virtual signings are easy, efficient and client friendly. Our lawyers can remotely witness Alberta real estate closing documents regardless of where you are located, either inside or outside of Alberta.  All you need is a computer or tablet with a webcam, an internet connection, and a mobile phone.

    What is Your Process?

    Home buying/selling is exciting but can also be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Whoever you choose needs to be able to explain the closing process so that you can anticipate what is required and know what to expect.

    At Deeded, our goal is to make the process as smooth and seamless as possible. Our welcome package provides you with everything you need to know about the home closing process. Further, at every stage of the transaction, we will let you know what’s happening next. If you have any questions during the process, please do not hesitate to call, email or text us.

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  • Most Common First Time Closing Mistake

    Most Common First Time Closing Mistake

    We love working with first time home buyers and are always striving to educate clients to ensure their first closing experience is a smooth one.

    Let’s face it. Buying a home isn’t easy.  There’s a lot to know about buying and closing a home and while there’s a flood of information out there, it is important to get the right professionals working with you to make your home buying experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.

    The most common first time closing mistake we see with buyers is forgetting to budget for closings costs. With all the excitement, first time buyers often forget that these closing costs must be paid upfront in cash, unlike the mortgage which is amortized and paid in instalments over time.

    Before the keys can be handed over, however, there are still a few expenses buyers need to shell out for. These closing costs must be paid upfront in cash, unlike the mortgage which is amortized and paid in installments over time.

    Below we've broken down the closing costs you need to know about as a buyer so you don't fall for the most common first time closing mistake:

    Down Payment

    While your lender will provide your mortgage funds to your real estate lawyer on closing day, as a buyer, you must have the cash down payment ready to go, minus any amount that has already been paid as part of your deposit.

    If you aren’t liquid (meaning you don’t have the down payment money sitting in cash), make plans to have the down payment cash ready at least 3-4 days prior to closing.  Keep in mind that if you have your money with an online bank, it may take a few days to transfer funds, so plan accordingly.

    Your lawyer will be in touch a few days prior to closing to let you know the exact amount to bring towards the closing.  This amount will include any adjustments, legal fees, land transfer tax and other costs we’ll discuss shortly.

    For information on how your family may be able to help you cover this cost visit our gifting a down payment blog post.

    Adjustments

    What's an "adjustment"?

    If you are buying a resale or new construction property, you will likely have to pay for several adjustments on closing. Adjustments can include payments for utilities, property taxes or in cases of new construction, account setup fees, development charges, and others.

    Adjustments can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.   For example, if the seller of your property has paid property taxes for the year and you are buying the property halfway through the year, you will owe the seller your portion of the property taxes.  

    Your lawyer will inform you of adjustments a few days prior to closing.

    Land Transfer Tax or Property Transfer Tax (LTT / PTT)

    Home purchases in Ontario and British Columbia are subject to a provincial land transfer tax. Outside of the down payment, this is likely the largest outlay to be paid at the time of closing so it is very important to budget for.

    Home buyers in the City of Toronto pay municipal land transfer tax (MLTT) in addition to the Ontario LTT, which effectively doubles the land transfer amounts owed.

    Legal Fees, Disbursements, Title Insurance

    Legal costs include a number of services, such as registering the transfer of the property and registering the mortgage. Your lawyer will also facilitate the purchase of title insurance, which protects the buyer from any other claims made toward the property. It can also include the ordering of the property survey, should the buyer wish to obtain one.

    Legal fees and title insurance premiums can vary depending on the property type, location, and several other factors.

    When you can anticipate and budget properly, the stress associated with closing your first property can be drastically reduced. Remember to consult with professionals such as your Realtor, Mortgage Broker and Real Estate Lawyer, and ask lots of questions... there's no bad or silly questions you can ask.

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  • The Ultimate Guide to Programs for First-Time Home Buyers

    The Ultimate Guide to Programs for First-Time Home Buyers

    As a first-time home buyer, you may qualify for several government programs that can help you offset the costs of buying your home and use your RRSP savings as part of your down payment.

    We’ve assembled information on the most relevant programs but as regulations and programs are subject to change, we recommend checking with us or your accountant when it comes to your eligibility for these programs.

    First-time Home Buyers Incentive

    The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive helps qualified first-time homebuyers reduce their monthly mortgage payments without adding to their financial burdens.

    The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive is a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada where the government has a shared investment in the home.  It offers:

    • • 5% or 10% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a newly constructed home
    • • 5% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a resale (existing) home
    • • 5% for a first-time buyer’s purchase of a new or resale mobile/manufactured home
    • • If you participate in this program, the government, as an equity owner, shares in both the upside and downside of the property value.

    You will have to repay the incentive based on the property’s fair market value at the time of repayment. If a homebuyer received a 10% incentive, they would repay 10% of the home’s value at the time of repayment.

    For example, you purchased a home at $350K and received $35K from the program.  If you sell it a few years down the road for $500K, you would repay the government $50K for their equity stake. 

    The homebuyer must repay the incentive after 25 years, or when the property is sold, whichever comes first. The homebuyer can also repay the incentive in full any time before, without a pre-payment penalty.

    Eligibility For The First-time Home Buyers Incentive

    These are the few criteria to determine if you are eligible for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:

    • • Your total annual qualifying income doesn’t exceed $120,000
    • • Your total borrowing is no more than 4 times your qualifying income
    • • You or your partner are a first-time homebuyer
    • • You are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident authorized to work in Canada
    • • You meet the minimum down payment requirements with traditional funds (savings, withdrawal/collapse of a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or a non-repayable financial gift from a relative/immediate family member)

    First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit

    The Government of Canada provides a tax credit for first-time home buyers.  After you purchase your first home and submit your tax return, you can access this tax credit.  If you are an eligible homebuyer, you can apply for the First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit, which equates to a total tax rebate of approximately $750.  

    Eligibility For The First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit

    To be eligible for the Home Buyers’ Tax Credit, you must meet both of these criteria:

    • • You or your spouse or common-law partner purchased a qualifying home.
    • • You are a first-time home buyer, which means that you did not live in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner in the year of acquisition or in any of the four preceding years.

    A qualifying home is almost any type of home as long as it is located in Canada and registered in your or your spouse or common-law partner’s name. This includes existing homes and homes under construction.

    If you are eligible, you can claim a tax credit of $5000 on line 31270 of your tax return, however, we highly encourage speaking with your accountant to ensure you meet all qualification criteria.

    RRSP Home Buyers' Plan

    One great source of funding for your mortgage down payment is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The Canadian government's Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) allows first time home buyers to borrow up to $35,000 from your RRSP for a down payment, tax-free.

    If you're purchasing with someone who is also a first-time homebuyer, you can both access up to $35,000 from your RRSP for a combined total of up to $70,000. Think of the HBP as a tax-free loan to yourself to fund your down payment.  The only catch is that it must be repaid within 15 years.   Repayment is as simple as designating an HBP repayment amount on your annual tax return, but please beware that there will be a minimum amount required to be repaid each year, so budget accordingly.

    Eligibility For The RRSP Home Buyers' Plan

    In order to be eligible for the HBP as a first-time homebuyer, you must meet the following criteria:

    • • You must be considered a first-time home buyer.  You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four-year period (that begins on January 1st of the fourth year before the year you withdraw the funds) , you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned.
    • • You must have a written agreement to buy or build a qualifying home, either for yourself or for a related person with a disability
    • • You intend to live in the home within one year of purchase as your primary residence
    • • The RRSP funds you borrow must have been in your registered (RRSP) account for at least 90 days prior to withdrawal
    • • You must make the withdrawal from your RRSP within 30 days of taking title of the home
    • • You must be a Canadian resident

    Land Transfer Tax Rebate for First-time homebuyers

    Land transfer taxes are paid to the government at closing. To calculate what you may owe on closing, click here for our calculator.

    First-time homebuyers in Ontario can qualify for a rebate equal to the full amount of their land transfer tax, up to a maximum of $4,000.

    To qualify for the Ontario Land Transfer Tax Refund for First-Time Homebuyers, you must meet the following criteria:

    • • You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada,
    • • You must be 18 years of age or older,
    • • You must live in the home within 9 months of purchasing it,
    • • You cannot have owned/had a financial interest in a home before, and
    • • If you have a spouse, they cannot have owned a home during the time they have been your spouse.

    Based on the Ontario land transfer tax rates, the rebate will cover the full tax amount up to a maximum home purchase price of $368,333.  For homes with purchase prices over $368,333, homebuyers will qualify for the maximum rebate, but will still owe the remainder of their land transfer tax. If you are buying your home with your spouse, but only one of you qualifies for this rebate, you can still receive 50% of the rebate.

    If you qualify, Deeded can help you file the necessary paperwork to get the rebate. Contact our team and we can help you get started on the process to claim you're rebates immediately.

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  • Should You Consider Taking Advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)?

    Should You Consider Taking Advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)?

    Are you actively contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)? If so, the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) can help you increase your down payment amount and purchase the home you want. The HBP allows you to withdraw from your RRSP account so you can build or buy a home for yourself or someone with a disability that's related to you (by marriage, common-law, blood, etc.)

    As of March 2019, the Canadian HBP withdrawal limit is $35,000. That can go a long way toward buying or building your home. That said, it’s important to fully understand how the HBP works before you decide if it’s right for you.

    How Does The RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan Work?

    To withdraw from your RRSP account for the Home Buyers’ Plan, you’ll have to inform the Canada Revenue Agency and apply through your financial institution. As mentioned, if you qualify, you can extract up to $35,000 tax-free to use as a down payment for the purchase or construction of a home. Here’s what you’ll have to do to get started:

    • Contribute to an RRSP - You can only qualify for the HBP if you have enough money in an active RRSP account, for at least 90 days prior to withdrawal. While you normally cannot withdraw from this type of account (penalty-free) until you’re of retirement age, the CRA makes an exception for qualified homebuyers.

    • Be a Canadian first-time homebuyer - Only permanent residents who are buying or building their primary residence (or doing so for a disabled person) can qualify. If you’ve already used the HBP for yourself and want to do the same for someone else, you must have a zero balance on your original account.

    • Submit the right forms - You must also visit the CRA website, fill out Section 1 of Form T1036 and bring it to the financial institution that holds your RRSP account. They will then complete Section 2 and, if you qualify, will send you the form T4RSP, which confirms how much you have borrowed from the account.

    • Buy the home and withdraw - Once you meet all the criteria, you must withdraw the appropriate funds within 30 days of purchasing the home’s title, using a loan from your financial institution. If you wait more than 30 days, you will no longer qualify for the HBP and any money you withdraw will be subject to tax.

    Declaring Your HBP Withdrawal and Repaying Your Debt

    Once you’ve purchased your home, you must declare your T4RSP form on your income tax return for the same year the withdrawal was made from your RRSP account. Afterward, your annual CRA Notice of Assessment will display the amount you have repaid, what you have left to pay, and how much your next payment will be.

    You will then have 2 years before you must start paying back what you’ve borrowed. Typically, this is done in yearly installments to your RRSP through your financial institution, over a maximum period of 15 years. Each payment must be made within the same year it’s due or within the first 60 days of the following year.

    Other Requirements to Qualify for the Home Buyers’ Plan

    • • You cannot have owned another home within the 4 calendar years prior to applying for the HBP
    • • You must first enter a written agreement to purchase or construct the home
    • • You have to start living in the home within 1-year of its purchase
    • • If you’re buying a home with common-law partner or spouse who isn’t a first-time homebuyer, you can’t have lived in their primary residence for more than 4 years

    Benefits and Drawbacks of The Home Buyer’s Plan

    Now that you know what the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan is and how you can withdraw from it, here’s a list of some of the main pros and cons of the process:

    Benefits

    • • The loan will be tax and interest-free
    • • Your taxable income will decrease when you claim your RRSP contributions
    • • Two first-time homebuyers can combine their plans for a total of $70,000
    • • A larger downpayment means you’ll need to borrow less
    • • You only have to start paying it back after 2 years (total of 17 years to repay)

    Drawbacks

    • • You won’t gain any interest on your funds like you would if they were invested
    • • Contributions you pay back from your HBP won’t count toward your deductions
    • • Being a homeowner with other expenses can make it difficult to repay your debt
    • • You must declare any missed RRSP payments on your taxes (and pay for them)

    Do I Still Need a Down Payment If I Take Advantage of the HBP?

    These days, it’s nearly impossible to find a home that doesn’t require a down payment. In fact, if your home costs $500,000 or under, your mortgage provider will require a minimum down payment of 5% of the home’s asking price. If your home is between $500,000 and $1,000,000, you can expect to pay at least 15% down (5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on anything over that, up to $1,000,000).

    So, if the money you withdraw from your RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan doesn’t sufficiently cover your minimum down payment, you may not qualify for a mortgage and the rest of the funds will have to come from your own pocket.

    Can You Purchase a Second Home Using The Home Buyers’ Plan?

    Fortunately, you can be eligible for the Home Buyers’ Plan a second time, as long as you haven’t owned a home within the past 4 years. So, if you want to sell your first home and live in an apartment to save money, you can reapply as a “new” homebuyer 4 years later.

    As mentioned, whatever balance remains on your previous HBP account must also be fully repaid before you can qualify a second time. The same sort of rules apply if you’re buying a home for a disabled relative.

    What If My Spouse Owned a House Less Than 4 Years Ago?

    If you’re purchasing a home with a spouse who owned a house less than 4 years ago, but you did not live in that house with them, you are still eligible to use the HBP. Just keep in mind that only you will be able to withdraw $35,000 from your RRSP, not your spouse.

    How to Decide if The Home Buyers’ Plan is Right For You

    Although the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan can be the perfect solution for first-time homebuyers, it can also be an expensive and lengthy debt to take on, particularly when you consider all the other costs that come with being a homeowner in Canada. In fact, there are cases where you should and shouldn’t take advantage of the HBP:

    The Home Buyers’ Plan Could Be Right For You When…

    • • You’re a first-time homebuyer or haven’t owned a home in at least 4 years
    • • You and your spouse/partner can combine your HBP funds
    • • You’re trying to purchase a home for someone with a disability
    • • You have automatic RRSP contributions set up with your financial institution
    • • You still have enough money in your RRSP to keep your retirement on track
    • • You don’t have enough for a 20% down payment (which would help you avoid having to pay mortgage default insurance)

    The Home Buyers’ Plan Could Be Wrong For You When…

    • • You have owned a home within the past 4 years
    • • You already have enough for a 20% down payment
    • • Your retirement would be greatly delayed due to your withdrawal
    • • You would be withdrawing all of your RRSP funds (no interest gained)
    • • Would not be able to afford your annual payments
    • • You have an unsteady income, bad credit, or a lot of existing debt

     This is a Guest Post from our friends at Loanscanada.ca.  

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