Closing costs on property purchase

Rebecca Awram - Vancouver Mortgage Broker

The majority of home buyers, especially those purchasing for the first time, are surprised by all the items that require payment besides the down payment.  It can be a bit of a shock!  While a competent mortgage broker will review the closing costs with you in person, this list can also help you plan.

Canadian lenders and insurers need to see that you have the available funds to pay for your closing costs. If your mortgage is high-ratio (less than 20% down payment) it is a rule that you have to prove that 1.5% of the purchase price is available in liquid funds or in your debt ratios to pay for this. Regardless of your actual closing costs, it is an arbitrary amount that must be verified, often by way of providing a copy of your bank statement.

Here are some closing costs that you can anticipate:

Appraisal Fee

house on mortgage and tax caluclatorTypically $250 – $350, it is required to confirm the value of the property you are buying. Lenders and insurers will use the appraised value or the purchase price, whichever is LOWER, to assess value. Some lenders use an automated valuation system, and do not require an appraisal. Many mortgage brokers also cover this cost.

Site Survey or Title Insurance

Your notary or solicitor will recommend the better choice for your particular situation.  In some cases the seller may already have a valid site survey that you can obtain for free.  If not, title insurance is incredibly less expensive ($200 – $300)  and many lenders make it mandatory anyway. Most solicitors will recommend the underwriter they prefer for title insurance.

Home Inspection

This is an optional but very clever investment.  Ranging anywhere from $400 – $600, it reassures you that the home has no major problems.  Your realtor or mortgage broker can likely make some educated recommendations

Lender/Broker Fees (Rare)

These usually only occur in high-risk or private financing, and are often a flat fee or a percentage of the amount being borrowed.  Either way, they should be disclosed to you up front.

Legal Fees

All purchases require a conveyance to register title, and all mortgages need to be registered on title.  A lawyer or notary can complete this service for you. The margin on this service to be quite wide, so it is definitely worth your time to call around a get a few quotes, as rates can range from approximately $700 – $1500.  Experience realtors and mortgage brokers often have some recommendations.

Home Insurance

Fire insurance as an absolute minimum is required by all lenders, except perhaps on strata properties.  Your lawyer or notary will make sure you have this in place before your mortgage closes.

Mortgage Insurance

If your down payment is less than 20%, then mortgage default insurance from CMHC or Genworth is mandatory. This is a one-time premium that insures the lender against default of the mortgage.  The premiums range from.50% to 2.75% depending on different variables in your application.   These premiums are not typically paid up front, they are can be added to the mortgage.

Life Insurance and/or Mortgage Balance Insurance

Various policies are available for unforeseen events, such as death, disability, critical illness or loss of job.  I recommend using an insurance broker, so that they can shop all the insurers and find the best policy for your particular situation.  At the very least, DO NOT take the mortgage balance coverage offered by your lender, as it is not portable.  If you move your mortgage at the end of the term (or at any time) you cannot take the insurance with you.  That means you have to start over with a different underwriter, and switching to new policies when you are five years older is not a great idea. Get one that’s portable that you know you can keep for the life of your mortgage.

Property Purchase Tax

Also known as the land transfer tax, it varies from province to province.  In British Columbia it is 1% of the first $200K and 2% of the balance; some exemptions exist, such as that for first time homebuyers.  This is usually the single largest closing cost for most home purchases.  It is particularly startling for those buying their second home, if they were exempt from it the first time, they didn’t know how much they were saving!


It is payable on brand new construction only.  Sometimes the builder or developer will include it in the purchase price.  Also, there are partial rebates available in BC on hst. The hst in BC is being phased out in 2013.

Annual Property Taxes

These are pro-rated on the Statement of Adjustments calculated by your notary or lawyer.  The purchaser owes for the portion of the year that they have possession of the property, if the property taxes are already paid for the year.  Alternately, sometimes you get a credit for months that the seller has had possession and you will be paying the taxes later that year, after the purchase.

Moving Expenses

Stating the obvious, but it is a closing cost!  Some people are lucky to have friends, and the very lucky have friends with trucks. The rest should be sure to get a number of quotes.

Contact Rebecca Awram for more information

Community Lending Centre is here to help you with any questions you may have about closing costs. Feel free to call us at 604-614-2382 or send us an email.

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