Frequently Asked Questions About Toronto Real Estate

No matter whether you’re a first time buyer or an old pro, buying, selling and leasing real estate in Toronto can be a little overwhelming. So, we’ve created a list of the top FAQs to help keep you in-the-know and set up for success including the most common question of all: should I buy or sell first?

Top Question: Should I Buy or Sell First?

It’s the first choice you make when you decide to move and one that can have you going round in circles. Our videos series will shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages to both options, so you can make the best choice for you.

Questions From Buyers

What’s the best time to buy in Toronto?

The month of January and December are the best months to purchase a house. In fact, houses in January typically sell for $60,000 less than the most expensive month which is May. This difference in price has to do with the number of competing offers in the marketplace. Not as many buyers are looking in December or January. Houses that have been put up for sale in December often get over-looked because of the busy holiday season and hence there is plenty of room to negotiate in January.

Can I buy real estate in Toronto without an agent?

Yes you can buy a home by yourself, with the help of a lawyer. However, we highly recommend using a real estate agent to make the process of purchasing a home a lot smoother. Real estate agents will help you save time and money by:

How do I find the best schools in Toronto?

The internet is your friend. Here are a few resources:

  • The Fraser Institute Rating is great way to find out about public schools in your area
  • If you are looking for Catholic schools, search for EQAO
  • is another great option for researching schools
  • Check out our neighbourhood reports for school ratings and listings that are close by.

If you are passionate about your kids going to a certain school, chances are others are as well and houses in that area will be worth more.

What are the repercussions if I waive the financial condition and then don’t get financing?

If you waive your financing condition and aren’t able to secure financing on or before closing day, two things can happen:

1) You will lose your deposit on the deal
2) You could be sued for breach of contract

Can I get out of an offer if I have a financing condition?

The simple answer is yes.

If your offer is conditional on financing, and you can show that every effort was made to obtain financing, you can get out of an offer.

What is a financing condition?

A financing condition is used by a buyer when they need to arrange for a mortgage, and typically lasts for a period of 5 days. During this period, the buyer confirms with their landlord or broker that they are approved for the necessary amount. In order to be approved, a bank will look at the property itself, the appraisal allowed of the property and the property type, as well as how much you can afford.

What is the cost of a bank appraisal?

Bank appraisals typically cost between $300-$500 in Toronto. However, many lenders will pay this cost for you.

Who pays the land transfer tax? The buyer or seller?

In Ontario the buyers always pays the land transfer tax. In Toronto, buyers are also required to pay a  municipal land transfer tax.

Calculate your tax

I have bad credit but want to buy. What are my options?

Be sure to interview with different mortgage lenders, find a quality one and talk to them about your situation. To find a mortgage lender:

  • You can go to your local bank branch, walk in and ask to speak to someone about getting a mortgage. They will take a look at your current situation and make suggestions about how you can fix your credit rating in the next few months.
  • You can also go to an Independent Mortgage Broker, which is someone who does not work with a bank. They might be able to work with more risky mortgages. Ultimately, this might cost you more but you will end up with a mortgage faster.

How much should I expect in legal fees?

There are two types of legal fees:

  1. What you are actually going to pay the lawyer, which is usually between $800 and $1,200 (that depends on clearing the title and how easy or complicated it is)
  2. Disbursements, which are payments the lawyers have paid on your behalf (fees to the city, land transfers expensive, photocopying, courier, money that is not going to the lawyers pocket)

All in all your legal fees should run around $1,500, if you budget $2,000, you should be pleasantly surprised!

What’s the average down-payment in Toronto?

There isn’t exactly an average, ultimately it is about the individual and what they can afford.

If you have saved 20% of your mortgage, you will not be a victim to insurance premiums. However, if you have saved less than 20% than you will have to pay insurance premiums. You must have at least 5% saved. Speak to your mortgage professional about where you are financially and where you can save a little more every month.

What are the prerequisites for buying a house or condo in Toronto?

Lenders will consider:

  • Your income and ability to sustain mortgage payments
  • Your credit history

You’ll need at least a 5% down-payment, but with less than 20% down, you’ll be required to purchase CMHC insurance (which provides protection for the lender).

What’s the average time for a home or condo closing?

Typically 30, 60 or 90 days. It depends on the people involved. Conditions such as home inspections, stats certificate, or maybe you are currently renting and need to give 60 days notice to your landlord can delay the process.Be sure to speak to the other real estate agents if you are going in on multiple offers, if someone wants to sell their property fast and is leaving town that could be of an advantage to you.

Any advice for first-time buyers?

  • Have an understanding of what is involved in the market
  • Be prepared and be ready, sometimes you have to be aggressive
  • Have your mortgage pre-approval done and have a budget
  • Speak to a few realtors and choose one that understands your goals and is working in an area you are looking for
  • This can be a tricky process, be patient
  • Act fast, be confident that your realtor will find the best place possible

Do I lose my deposit, if I didn’t qualify as a first-time buyer?

If you didn’t waive your financing condition, you’ll get your deposit back. But once you sign a legal document, you are bound to that purchase or risk losing your deposit and getting sued.

Talk to a lawyer or real estate agent if you are unsure.

Are there government incentives for first-time buyers?

Yes! Here are the two main ones:

Questions From Sellers

What is the best advice for a family with young children who are selling their house?

Go on a vacation! If a house is properly staged and marketed, there will be a lot of showings that happen with little notice. Trying to live in a house that is on the market is very complicated as it will become messy and difficult to accommodate all the showings

The best thing to do is get your house all ready, rely on a realtor to get your house picture perfect, and then go away on a vacation and come back knowing that your house is going to sell on offer night.

Why isn’t my home or condo selling?

Your home or condo might not be selling for a couple of reasons. First, it could be over priced. Did you interview one or more agents when you were thinking of listing your home? They both would have presented you a comparative market analysis. Your realtor would look at what sold recently, compare it to your home and come up with a sale price. Second, does your home show well? Did you de-cluttered and stage your home? Are the walls painted? Discuss with your realtor about what you could do to make your home look more sell-worthy and be sure to take good pictures!

Should I price my house to create a bidding war?

Pricing your home slightly under market value will create a lot of interest. A lower price will usually result in multiple offers and create a bidding war.

How do I find the right real estate agent to sell my property?

Always interview multiple agents and see what they have to offer. Different agents will have different skills, experience and personalities, making sure they are a good fit is critical to having a good selling experience. Also, neighbourhood intel goes a long way.

Who pays the land transfer tax?

The buyer always pays land transfer tax.

Can I fire my real estate agent?

Yes, you can!

You did sign a listing agreement contract but if things are not working out and you have a reason, there is a form you can fill out to terminate your contract. Call the agent’s broker of record and they will help take care of this for you.

What’s the best time to sell?

May is the best month of the year to sell, followed by October and November. The worst months to sell are January and August. January listings are impacted by awful weather and in August people are on vacation and travelling. The spring market is the busiest, but depending on the type of property you own, having fewer competing properties in slow months might be a huge benefit to you.

It’s best to discuss optimum timing for your listing with an experienced real estate agent.

Does marketing matter?

Yes, it does!

From a lister’s perspective, marketing is not simply putting a “For Sale” sign on your yard or handing out flyers in your neighbourhood. The point is to get the world to know about your listings. The more people who see your home the better!

From a seller’s perspective, marketing helps you find the home of your dreams, allows you to look it over and study it and then go see it.

What do I need know about home inspections?

If you are out searching for a home or if you are listing a home you will encounter two types of inspections:

1) A pre-list inspection
2) A home inspection that you might contract a home inspector to conduct on your behalf

However, there are limitations to home inspections. Typically, inspectors do not inspect anything that is hidden behind walls or floors or anything that cannot be seen without damaging the property (such as piping, insulation, electrical). Trust Realty Group considers home inspections a courtesy to our buyers because it allows them to make an educated choice. Keep in mind, as a buyer, it is not unheard of to get your own private inspection done.

How effective are open houses?

Open houses are very effective – the more opportunities people have to see your property the better. Ultimately the more traffic your house sees, the more offers it will receive, and chances are it will sell for a higher price.

How much will it cost to stage my house?

First, we have to break down what exactly staging means? Staging entitles a massive amount of de-cluttering, bringing a handyman and painter in to make your home look as fresh and polished as possible, and adding furniture, fresh linens, rugs and towels, as well as artwork, plants and flowers. Staging is important because it makes you the most money in the shortest amount of time.

That being said, it can be very expensive when you add it all up! Staging companies can charge $1,200-$2,500. Before putting your house up for sale, talk with your agent about staging options. There are some agents, like the Trust Realty Group, who save you this cost by including it in their commission.

Is a pre-listing home inspection a good idea?

Yes, a pre-list inspection is a great idea. Trust Realty Group gets pre-listing home inspections done with every listing that we have. They allow sellers to receive more firm offers and create peace of mind for buyers.

Am I required to have a “For Sale” sign on my lawn?

You don’t have to, no! But agents will encourage you to because it allows you to get the top value for your house.The more people that know your house is for sale, the more people will come see it and the more offers you get on offer night. If you don’t put a “For Sale” sign on your lawn, you are cutting off potential buyers that could be walking or driving by your home.

Will I lose money if I sell my property purchased a year ago?

That depends on a few factors:

  • Is it your primary residence or your income property? If it is an income property then you are looking at capital gains
  • What area is it in Toronto? Different areas of Toronto have gone up in the last few years.
  • What is the price of the home you bought? Your profit may only cover your closing cost if you have a smaller property, whereas if you sold a larger house than the sale would cover the closing cost and you would make a profit

Do I need an agent to sell my house?

No, you can sell your house without a real estate agent. HOWEVER, the advertising, expertise, time saved and higher sold prices that come with selling your home with a real estate agent are worth the cost of commission.