FAQs

Please select one of the topics below to learn more.

Buying a Home

Congratulations!  Finding the home, you want to purchase can be incredibly challenging.  The hard part is probably over from your perspective, but we’ll still need you to check off a few more tasks so that we can prepare for your closing.

First, please provide us with a copy of your purchase agreement as soon as possible.  Once we have this, we can start completing the searches we need to do in order to make sure everything is in order for the closing date.  If you have an electronic copy of the agreement, please email it to email hidden; JavaScript is required.  If you don’t have an electronic copy, please ask your real estate agent to provide us with a copy of the agreement.  Once we have a copy of your agreement, we will open our file and follow up with an email to you setting out the next steps and requesting the additional information we’ll need from you.

Second, you will need to arrange for any mortgage financing that you require.  Once you have signed documents with your mortgage broker or bank, the lender will send us mortgage instructions directly.  These instructions tell us exactly how much money the lender will be providing towards the purchase as well as what documents we need to prepare in order to receive funding from the lender.  We like to receive mortgage instructions as soon as possible in the process, but we can work with you even if the instructions arrive late.

Third, you will need to arrange for insurance on your new home.  In most cases we will need your insurance broker will need to send us confirmation that you have insurance in place for the closing date that will cover the full replacement value of the home in case of fire.

Fourth, you will need to contact the utility providers for your new home and provide them with the information they need from you to set up your new accounts.  If you are buying in the Toronto area, we will include a list of contact numbers for the utility providers with our initial email.

Those are the main tasks for you to take care of while we take care of the rest.  As mentioned, we will send you an initial email setting out the process in more detail and requesting information from you so that we can complete the paperwork for the closing.

We will also need to meet with you to review and sign documents prior to closing. Normally we do this a week or so prior to closing and we ask that you bring the balance of funds required to this meeting.  We will provide you with a financial summary prior to this meeting that will show you exactly how much we still need from you.

The keys will typically be available sometime between noon and 5:00 p.m. on the day of closing.  I know, that is a big window of time.

The reason we can’t give you the keys any earlier in the day, and the reason we can’t be more specific about the timing, is that a large number of things need to happen on the closing date before we will be able to provide you with keys.  Among other things, on the closing date we need to receive funds from your lender, wire funds to the seller’s lawyer, exchange documents with the seller’s lawyer, register the transfer of title into your name and register the mortgage on title to the property.

In most cases, the keys for your new home will be left in a lockbox on the property.  We will provide you with the lockbox code once the closing is complete so that you can go directly to the property and pick up the keys from the lockbox.

In most cases you can find out exactly what your closing costs will be with our quote calculator www.downandco.com/quote.  The quote we provide is all-inclusive, meaning that there will not be any surprise costs for you at the end of a normal residential purchase, sale or refinance transaction.  The quote includes the cost of title insurance, title search, couriers, miscellaneous office expenses that other lawyers charge for, registration fees and all other expenses.

The main reason is that the cost of a title insurance policy is tied to the purchase price – as the purchase price increases, the cost of the title insurance policy increases.  Land transfer tax is also tied to the purchase price so the tax payable increases with the purchase price.  You can see exactly how much the closing costs will be by using our quote calculator: www.downandco.com/quote.

Our fees are very competitive.  Once you factor in all of the costs of closing, the total cost to use our firm is typically very similar to other quality firms on an all-inclusive basis.  The quote we provide on this site includes all of the closing costs so that there are no surprises at closing.  This means that there are no additional costs for title insurance, title search, tax certificates, couriers, photocopies, faxes, software transaction fees or anything else that is part of a standard purchase or sale.  If you are comparing prices, please make sure you ask the other providers to give you a quote for all of these expenses in addition to the legal fees.  Once all of these costs are added to the legal fees quote from other providers you will find that our pricing is very competitive.

Title insurance typically covers both the owner and the mortgage lender against title related risks that the homeowner is not aware of at closing.  For example, title insurance provides coverage for issues that would have shown up on an up-to-date survey (e.g., a portion of the deck isn’t completely within your property line and your neighbour requires you to fix the issue), or for liens that are the responsibility of the seller (e.g., the seller didn’t pay a contractor they hired for a renovation and the contractor registers a construction lien after closing).  Like all insurance policies, title insurance covers a specific list of items.  If you’re interested to see what a title insurance policy looks like, we can email a sample policy to you.

Our office is generally open 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.  The vast majority of our client meetings can be held via video conference so you will not need to attend at our office.

Please call us to discuss.  Unfortunately, in almost all cases the answer is “no, you do not qualify for the rebate”.  In order to qualify for the first-time homebuyer’s rebate, you must not have previously owned a residential property anywhere in the world.  Note that the land transfer tax rules for being a first-time homebuyer are complete different than the rules for eligibility for the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan, with the result that you may be eligible for the Home Buyers’ Plan, even if you are not eligible for the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.

It depends, please call us to discuss.  If you sold the house before you became spouses, your spouse may be able to claim the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.  If, however, you owned the home while you were spouses, your spouse will not be able to claim the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.

Land transfer tax has to be paid at the time of the transfer of ownership.  In most cases you will only have to pay the net amount of land transfer tax payable after taking account of the rebate.  In other words, the amount of land transfer tax you pay at closing is reduced by the amount of the rebate so that you receive the value of the rebate at closing and do not have to wait for the funds to be returned to you.

The Condominium Act (Ontario) creates rules that builders are required to comply with when they accept deposits from buyers.  Essentially, the builder is required to deposit the money into a lawyers’ trust account and the builder is not allowed to access the money until either (i) ownership of the unit is transferred to the buyer, or (ii) the builder has obtained an insurance policy (aka deposit receipt) for the funds. In other words, the builder cannot use the deposit money unless the buyer has already received title to the property, or the builder has insurance in place that will reimburse the buyer for the deposit in the event the builder is unable to complete the agreement.

As such, where the builder and their lawyers follow the rules in the Condominium Act, the deposits are quite safe.

Who knows… well, it’s a little clearer than that but the short answer is that in most cases buyers should be ready for long timelines and possible delays.

Builders of new construction condominiums are required to include in their purchase agreements a “TARION Statement of Critical Dates”.  This statement sets out the timelines that the builder must meet and the consequences if they fail to meet the timeline.  The timeline set out in the Statement of Critical Dates is primarily concerned with making sure the buyer gets to occupy the unit within a reasonable and ascertainable time frame, even if the buyer does not yet own the unit.  As such, it sets a “first tentative occupancy date” and an “outside occupancy date”.  In other words, it sets a date that the builder expects is the earliest that the buyer might be able to occupy the unit by, and it sets an outside date which is the latest date by which the builder must provide occupancy to the buyer.

The builder is permitted to extend the occupancy date from the first tentative occupancy all the way until the outside occupancy date without any penalty, provided that they give the buyer enough notice of the delay.  As a result, buyers should look at outside occupancy date and decide whether or not they are willing to wait that long to move into their unit before deciding to proceed with the purchase.

That said, even the outside occupancy date is not guaranteed since there are circumstances where are builder can extend the occupancy date beyond the outside occupancy date without penalty (e.g., unavoidable delays).

Yes, but most or all of the HST is likely already included in the purchase price.  This is a bit complicated, but most new construction purchase agreements include all of the HST payable provided the purchaser is buying the unit to live in it as their principal residence (or the principal residence of an immediate family member).  If you are not purchasing to live in the property, then there will likely be some HST payable (although you may be eligible to get this back from the CRA after closing). If you are buying a new construction condominium as an investment, please contact our office to discuss the HST that is payable.

You do not have to pay rent, but you will have to pay the builder an “occupancy fee”.  Occupancy fees are charged by the builder each month from the time you move in until the builder is able to transfer ownership to you.  The amount a builder is permitted to charge as an occupancy fee is limited by law.  Under the Condominium Act (Ontario), a builder can only charge occupancy fees that include the following three items: 1) an estimate of the property taxes for the unit; plus 2) an estimate of common expenses for the unit; plus 3) interest on the unpaid balance of the purchase price.  Items (1) and (2) are costs a condominium owner will be responsible for as long as they own a unit, so these are non-controversial.  Item (3) is similar to an interest only mortgage on the unpaid balance of the purchase price.  For example, if the cost of the condominium was $500,000 and the buyer has paid deposits of $100,000 prior to occupancy, the unpaid balance of the purchase price would be $400,000.  In this example, the builder would charge interest on $400,000 during the occupancy period.  The amount of interest the builder can charge is limited by the Condominium Act (Ontario).

Yes!  Assignment purchases can offer a great opportunity to buy a new construction condominium that is ready to be moved into.  However, purchasing in this way raises a number of unique issues .  Buying by assignment involves two transactions (the assignment from the original purchaser, and the eventual purchase of the unit from the builder) and you need to understand the risks and costs involved in each of these transactions.  It is very important that the agreement be reviewed by the lawyers for both the assignor (i.e., the seller) and the assignee (i.e., the buyer) before it is finalized to make sure everything works smoothly.  We have extensive experience with assignment transactions and can help you and your real estate agent navigate the process successfully.

Yes! It is always important to let your lawyer know how you intend to use the property.  This is important so that we can investigate to confirm that the proposed use is actually permitted, as well as to ensure that you are compliance with your mortgage, among other things.

For example, if you are buying a condominium and you intend to rent the unit out, we need to confirm that the condominium’s rules permit rentals.  Your lender also needs to be advised that you will not be living in the unit as this affects their rates and approval process.  We are not permitted to withhold information from your lender, so it is important that they know your actual plans from the outset.

Well… unfortunately this is a bit of a murky situation.  Renting your condominium unit on a short-term basis, whether through Airbnb or otherwise, might not be permitted for a number of different reasons.  These reasons include, among others, the rules of your particular condominium, the terms of your mortgage agreement, provisions of your insurance policy and municipal by-laws.

The consequences of using the unit as a short-term rental in violation of these rules can include, among other things, fines, court orders requiring you to stop, default under your mortgage or nullifying your insurance coverage.  Further, even if a condominium’s rules do not currently prohibit short term rentals, if enough unit owners want to impose a rule change, a new rule restricting short term rentals could be implemented.  We have seen a significant number of condominiums pass new rules restricting short term rentals in recent months.

The short answer is that you need to tread carefully if you intend to rent your property on a short-term basis.  Make sure your real estate agent, lawyer, lender and insurance provider have all been informed of your plans at the earliest opportunity and consider carefully whether you would still want to purchase the unit if, in the future, you were prevented from renting it out through Airbnb or a similar service due to a rule change or new regulations.

It depends.  The Province of Ontario has implemented a Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), often referred to as a foreign buyer tax.  This tax imposes a 20% tax on top of the purchase price for purchases of residential real estate in the greater Toronto region if the purchaser is not either (1) a Canadian citizen, or (2) a permanent resident of Canada (i.e., you have a Permanent Resident card).  In other words, if you are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, the NRST will not apply to your purchase.  However, if you are not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, you will need to pay a tax equal to 15% of the purchase price at the time of closing.  The federal government of Canada has also recently announced a that they will ban foreign money from purchasing a non-recreational, residential property in Canada for the next two years.

Getting a Mortgage

In most cases you can find out exactly what your closing costs will be with our quote calculator www.downandco.com/quote.  The quote we provide is all-inclusive, meaning that there will not be any surprise costs for you at the end of a normal residential purchase, sale or refinance transaction.  The quote includes the cost of title insurance, title search, couriers, miscellaneous office expenses that other lawyers charge for, registration fees and all other expenses.

Our fees are very competitive.  Once you factor in all of the costs of closing, the total cost to use our firm is typically very similar to other quality firms on an all-inclusive basis.  The quote we provide on this site includes all of the closing costs so that there are no surprises at closing.  This means that there are no additional costs for title insurance, title search, tax certificates, couriers, photocopies, faxes, software transaction fees or anything else that is part of a standard purchase or sale.  If you are comparing prices, please make sure you ask the other providers to give you a quote for all of these expenses in addition to the legal fees.  Once all of these costs are added to the legal fees quote from other providers you will find that our pricing is very competitive.

Our office is generally open 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.  The vast majority of our client meetings can be held via video conference so you will not need to attend at our office.

Land Transfer Tax

Please call us to discuss.  Unfortunately, in almost all cases the answer is “no, you do not qualify for the rebate”.  In order to qualify for the first-time homebuyer’s rebate, you must not have previously owned a residential property anywhere in the world.  Note that the land transfer tax rules for being a first-time homebuyer are complete different than the rules for eligibility for the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan, with the result that you may be eligible for the Home Buyers’ Plan, even if you are not eligible for the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.

It depends, please call us to discuss.  If you sold the house before you became spouses, your spouse may be able to claim the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.  If, however, you owned the home while you were spouses, your spouse will not be able to claim the first-time homebuyer’s land transfer tax rebate.

Land transfer tax has to be paid at the time of the transfer of ownership.  In most cases you will only have to pay the net amount of land transfer tax payable after taking account of the rebate.  In other words, the amount of land transfer tax you pay at closing is reduced by the amount of the rebate so that you receive the value of the rebate at closing and do not have to wait for the funds to be returned to you.

New Construction

The Condominium Act (Ontario) creates rules that builders are required to comply with when they accept deposits from buyers.  Essentially, the builder is required to deposit the money into a lawyers’ trust account and the builder is not allowed to access the money until either (i) ownership of the unit is transferred to the buyer, or (ii) the builder has obtained an insurance policy (aka deposit receipt) for the funds. In other words, the builder cannot use the deposit money unless the buyer has already received title to the property, or the builder has insurance in place that will reimburse the buyer for the deposit in the event the builder is unable to complete the agreement.

As such, where the builder and their lawyers follow the rules in the Condominium Act, the deposits are quite safe.

Who knows… well, it’s a little clearer than that but the short answer is that in most cases buyers should be ready for long timelines and possible delays.

Builders of new construction condominiums are required to include in their purchase agreements a “TARION Statement of Critical Dates”.  This statement sets out the timelines that the builder must meet and the consequences if they fail to meet the timeline.  The timeline set out in the Statement of Critical Dates is primarily concerned with making sure the buyer gets to occupy the unit within a reasonable and ascertainable time frame, even if the buyer does not yet own the unit.  As such, it sets a “first tentative occupancy date” and an “outside occupancy date”.  In other words, it sets a date that the builder expects is the earliest that the buyer might be able to occupy the unit by, and it sets an outside date which is the latest date by which the builder must provide occupancy to the buyer.

The builder is permitted to extend the occupancy date from the first tentative occupancy all the way until the outside occupancy date without any penalty, provided that they give the buyer enough notice of the delay.  As a result, buyers should look at outside occupancy date and decide whether or not they are willing to wait that long to move into their unit before deciding to proceed with the purchase.

That said, even the outside occupancy date is not guaranteed since there are circumstances where are builder can extend the occupancy date beyond the outside occupancy date without penalty (e.g., unavoidable delays).

Yes, but most or all of the HST is likely already included in the purchase price.  This is a bit complicated, but most new construction purchase agreements include all of the HST payable provided the purchaser is buying the unit to live in it as their principal residence (or the principal residence of an immediate family member).  If you are not purchasing to live in the property, then there will likely be some HST payable (although you may be eligible to get this back from the CRA after closing). If you are buying a new construction condominium as an investment, please contact our office to discuss the HST that is payable.

You do not have to pay rent, but you will have to pay the builder an “occupancy fee”.  Occupancy fees are charged by the builder each month from the time you move in until the builder is able to transfer ownership to you.  The amount a builder is permitted to charge as an occupancy fee is limited by law.  Under the Condominium Act (Ontario), a builder can only charge occupancy fees that include the following three items: 1) an estimate of the property taxes for the unit; plus 2) an estimate of common expenses for the unit; plus 3) interest on the unpaid balance of the purchase price.  Items (1) and (2) are costs a condominium owner will be responsible for as long as they own a unit, so these are non-controversial.  Item (3) is similar to an interest only mortgage on the unpaid balance of the purchase price.  For example, if the cost of the condominium was $500,000 and the buyer has paid deposits of $100,000 prior to occupancy, the unpaid balance of the purchase price would be $400,000.  In this example, the builder would charge interest on $400,000 during the occupancy period.  The amount of interest the builder can charge is limited by the Condominium Act (Ontario).

Yes!  Assignment purchases can offer a great opportunity to buy a new construction condominium that is ready to be moved into.  However, purchasing in this way raises a number of unique issues .  Buying by assignment involves two transactions (the assignment from the original purchaser, and the eventual purchase of the unit from the builder) and you need to understand the risks and costs involved in each of these transactions.  It is very important that the agreement be reviewed by the lawyers for both the assignor (i.e., the seller) and the assignee (i.e., the buyer) before it is finalized to make sure everything works smoothly.  We have extensive experience with assignment transactions and can help you and your real estate agent navigate the process successfully.

Selling a Home

In most cases you can find out exactly what your closing costs will be with our quote calculator www.downandco.com/quote.  The quote we provide is all-inclusive, meaning that there will not be any surprise costs for you at the end of a normal residential purchase, sale or refinance transaction.  The quote includes the cost of title insurance, title search, couriers, miscellaneous office expenses that other lawyers charge for, registration fees and all other expenses.

Our fees are very competitive.  Once you factor in all of the costs of closing, the total cost to use our firm is typically very similar to other quality firms on an all-inclusive basis.  The quote we provide on this site includes all of the closing costs so that there are no surprises at closing.  This means that there are no additional costs for title insurance, title search, tax certificates, couriers, photocopies, faxes, software transaction fees or anything else that is part of a standard purchase or sale.  If you are comparing prices, please make sure you ask the other providers to give you a quote for all of these expenses in addition to the legal fees.  Once all of these costs are added to the legal fees quote from other providers you will find that our pricing is very competitive.

Our office is generally open 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday.  The vast majority of our client meetings can be held via video conference so you will not need to attend at our office.

Painting by Katerina Podolak · Rain in Camden Town