How to buy a home in 2023
Last updated on September 11, 2023
Buying a property is one of life’s most exciting events. But it can be hard to know where to begin, especially considering the changes that occurred in the real estate market this year and all the information going around.
It is perfectly realistic to believe that someone using the right strategy can buy their dream property in 2023. What are the keys to making a successful purchase, according to DuProprio’s real estate coaches? Get ready, get interested and be persistent!
Here are the steps to buying a home in Quebec in 2023.
- Learn about the real estate situation in Quebec
- List your needs
- Set a budget
- Plan your financing
- Check the inventory of homes for sale
- Visit homes
- Make an offer
- Get a mortgage loan
- See a notary
As a buyer, your first task is to gather as much information as possible on the current state of the real estate market in the area you’re interested in. So, it’s important to take time to browse and read the available documentation, be it newspapers or specialized real estate websites. And why not get a head start by taking a look at the documents that will be used during the buying process: the offer to purchase, the seller’s declaration, the counteroffer, etc.?
Buying real estate that will be a good long-term investment is entirely feasible. But you must take into account the policy rate, that the housing inventory is low (though that’s changing), and that selling times are longer and overbidding less common than they were. It’s also good to become familiar with the strategies that sellers and brokers use.
The more you know, the more confident a buyer you will be and the more informed your decisions will be.
Even before starting to search for a home, take time to make a list of must-haves for your future property. Here are a few criteria to consider:
Type of property: condominium (condo), single-family house, income property, semi-detached home, new build or fixer-upper
Property size: number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, yard or balcony size, pool, garage
Location: city, town, suburbs, country, woods, neighbourhood, sun orientation, view, surrounding noise
Nearby services: stores, schools, healthcare services, leisure facilities, activities, shopping
Transportation: bus, subway, tramway, train, cycling paths, highways, priority lanes
Taxes and fees: condo fees, school taxes, municipal taxes
Some of these criteria are less important to some buyers than others, and some may even be set aside. Each buyer has their own hierarchy of priorities and essentials. It’s also important to consider your needs over the medium and long terms, so the property stays in line with your plans for the future.
Early on, it’s critical to think about your budget for the real estate purchase. How much can you pay per month? This amount, calculated honestly and seriously, must be considered the ceiling price when it comes time to buy.
According to the real estate coaches at DuProprio, it’s very important to set a limit to your budget before starting to look at houses, because emotions can easily lead to making an unwise decision.
This includes not only the monthly mortgage payment (according to current interest rates) but also municipal and school taxes, heating, insurance, Internet access, improvements, maintenance, unforeseen expenses, etc.
All of these must be taken into account, to make sure your finances are solid enough to withstand becoming a property owner.
When budgeting, you must also account for the other expenses that inevitably raise the final total to be paid out. This includes funds for the property inspection, notary’s fee for finalizing the transaction, moving expenses and property transfer duties, often called the “welcome tax.” In addition, you should be aware that the purchase of a new build is subject to 14.97% of the purchase price in GST and QST.
Taking a snapshot of your financial situation is important before starting to look for a property. How much is available for the down payment? What is your borrowing capacity? What assistance programs might you qualify for? These are questions all buyers must ask themselves.
If you want to buy a property, you’ll need to put down at least 5% of the purchase price in cash for the down payment. So, it’s best to begin setting money aside as soon as you first start thinking about becoming a homeowner. You can put the money in a Tax-Free-Savings Account (TFSA), a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA). Generally speaking, the higher the down payment you can make, the lower the loan amount to be repaid will be, and the less total interest you’ll pay.
If you make a down payment that is less than 20% of the purchase price, you will need to get mortgage loan insurance, for instance from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The premium is set as a percentage of the total loan, usually between 0.6% and 4% of the amount borrowed.
Before asking for a mortgage loan, it’s critical to know what your borrowing capacity is.
Finding this out involves getting a mortgage prequalification, which will indicate the maximum amount you could borrow. This amount is calculated by a mortgage or financial advisor, based on your salary, assets and debts. This step can also be used to run a simulation of what your payments will be like once you purchase a property.
Not only does getting prequalified secure an interest rate for a predetermined amount of time (under certain conditions), but it is often requested by the buyer before they let you visit their home, since it’s a way for them to confirm that you’re a serious potential buyer.
Did you know?
Since March 2022, the Bank of Canada has increased the key interest rate to 5%. We have had ten consecutive hikes in response to worldwide inflation, and it followed on nearly two years without any increase in the key rate.
The Bank of Canada has said that further increases are not impossible. Thus, it’s all the more critical for interested buyers to shop around for mortgages and lock in a rate as soon as possible from their financial institution, to protect themselves from future hikes.
Variations in the key interest rate have a direct impact on buyers’ borrowing capacity. DuProprio’s real estate coaches suggest getting a mortgage prequalification for the purchase of more than one property type, to clearly lay out your options. For instance, while a duplex has a higher price, the rent the buyer collects often will make up for the difference in the purchase price.
For many people, finances are an obstacle to their dream of owning a home. In Quebec, there are several financial assistance and home ownership programs that help people raise the down payment to buy a house. This assistance is especially helpful to first-time home buyers.
Home Buyers’ Plan
The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) is available for buyers of a first home. The Government of Canada program allows first-time buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 (per person) from their RRSPs, without being taxed. This amount must be repaid within a period of up to 15 years after the withdrawal. Program details can be found on the site of Revenue Canada.
Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA)
The FHSA is a new registered plan soon available in Canada. It allows potential buyers to save up for their first home tax-free. Once the account is open, you can contribute up to $8,000 per year, but the lifetime contribution limit is $40,000. Program details can be found on the Government of Canada site.
Reimbursement of the QST and GST/HST for new homes
A portion of the taxes paid in buying a newly built home may be refunded by Revenu Québec, so long as the purchase price is below $450,000. The maximum refund is 36% of the GST paid (for a maximum of $6,300) and 50% of the QST paid (up to $9,975).
First-Time Home Buyer Incentive
This Government of Canada program offers an amount of 5% or 10% of the purchase price for a first home, to be used for the down payment. This is an interest-free loan that must only be paid back after 25 years or if the property is sold. Its purpose is to help new owners reduce their mortgage payments.
Other types of financial assistance may also be offered by various municipalities or community organizations. It pays to do a little research!
Once you’re well-informed, have established a list of needs, finalized a budget and settled the financing question, you’re ready to start searching for real estate. It’s important not to limit yourself to a single platform when searching. Creating alerts on all real estate websites based on your search criteria will let you know immediately when new properties are listed.
Did you know?
DuProprio.com is the website providing the best online experience in real estate!1
Since the inventory of properties on the market remains pretty low, it is a good strategy to tour the neighbourhoods you’re interested in and even knock on doors of homes you like, to talk to the owners. Being bold can make a difference in finding the property of your dreams!
Once you’ve prepared, and found a home you’re interested in, you should plan a home visit as soon as possible. Contact the owner by phone or email to settle on a date and time. This is also your chance to check some key information, particularly whether the property is still for sale.
Getting ready for a home tour can make a big difference and help you make the most of your time on site: go over the online listing again before the visit, walk around the neighbourhood to see what it’s like, have what you need to take notes, and determine beforehand what questions you need to ask the owner.
In order to make a sound decision and really assess the home’s potential, it’s important to keep a cool head during the visit and focus on the essentials: the condition of the property and the asking price. Take a look at the documents the seller will probably have on hand: the seller’s declaration, tax and power bills, condo fees where applicable, the report from a pre-purchase inspection, etc. This will help you get a more comprehensive view of the property and the costs involved.
There are also a few small gestures you can make that will have a big impact on how things play out: be friendly with the homeowner and establish trust with them. After all, the homeowner is the one who ultimately decides whether or not to sell to a potential buyer.
Once you find a suitable home, it’s time to submit an offer to purchase to the seller. Caution: this is a legal contract that is difficult to break.
Don’t hesitate to make an offer, but keep in mind that if the first one doesn’t work out, another one will, sooner or later. DuProprio’s real estate coaches recommend staying patient and optimistic.
The main conditions in an offer to purchase are financing, an inspection and the sale of the buyer’s current property. If these conditions are written in the offer to purchase, the sale does not become official until the conditions are met.
Is a property being sold without a legal warranty?
If “no legal warranty” is mentioned in paragraph 8 of the DuProprio Offer to Purchase (and sometimes in the DuProprio Declaration of the Seller, section 12), this does not discharge the owner from declaring all known defects in the building. It just means that the buyer will not be able to take legal action if a hidden defect is discovered after the sale.
The proposed selling price and the conditions set out in the offer to purchase will influence the seller’s decision. However, it is still in the buyer’s interest to insert all important conditions, such as having a satisfactory inspection report. This allows the buyer to make sure the property meets their needs and financial situation.
Before withdrawing any clauses, the buyer should first ask a notary in private practice what the implications and risks involved are. The notary will review the offer and give legal advice.
If the property in question is for sale with the help of DuProprio, the seller has access to advice from our notaries.2 They can then ask questions about the offer to purchase to make sure all the information it contains is valid.
You made an offer and the seller responds with a counteroffer. This is the start of the negotiations stage. Several points are likely to be raised, including the possession date and the conditions in the offer.
If the buyer has chosen to do business with an agent, the payment of the agent’s commission may also be addressed in the negotiations.
It may happen that, for whatever reason, a buyer will want to withdraw an offer to purchase. This is difficult to do, but not impossible. It can be done under certain conditions, for instance if the inspection report reveals major defects or if a cancellation clause was added to the offer.
Once the final offer to purchase is accepted, it’s time to get a mortgage from a bank, credit union or mortgage broker. A mortgage loan is the amount granted by a financial institution for the purchase of a house. Before agreeing to give the loan, the institution will check the potential buyer’s financial background, solvency, and capacity to pay, along with the property value. It is recommended that you shop around for a loan to get the best interest rate and conditions.
Did you know?
The mortgage loan is guaranteed by the real estate itself: the lender could therefore seize the property if the loan is not repaid according to the agreed-upon terms.
The final step in buying a property is seeing a notary, who is usually selected by the buyer, to finalize the real estate transaction. At this meeting, the notary will pay the seller, register the home in the new owner’s name and give both parties a copy of the final bill of sale. The buyer will also have to pay some of the notary’s fees and expenses.
At this time, the notary will also give the new homeowner the keys to their new property. After that, all that remains is planning the move and turning the new house into a home.
Do you need to sell before you can buy? You can trust DuProprio’s services. Find out more about the visibility and support we offer by contacting us at 1-866-387-7677 or watching our short webinars.