It’s still possible to find cheap properties in Ontario. You may just have to dig a bit deeper.
Average incomes in some Toronto area neighbourhoods have doubled. Ottawa too, where selling today could affect where or if you can buy a new property anywhere you might want to live.
Are properties cheap in Canada? We’d say so. House prices in Ontario are 10 times workers’ annual wages. In fact, Ottawa scored 161 out of 209 in a 2020 survey of housing prices for destination cities for overseas workers. Toronto was 98, comparing favourably to Vancouver at 94.
So while you can still find cheap properties in Ontario, transitioning neighbourhoods could be your best bet to get exactly what you desire.
Before you make the leap, Axess Law suggests getting the facts on gentrification and property values. You’ll want to research crime stats, property assessments and zoning plans before closing a real estate deal of any kind. Axess Law’s real estate lawyers are ready when you are.
First Time Home Buyer Deals
A first time home buyer (Ontario) gets a break with the land transfer tax refund. Or you can access up to $35,000 in your RRSP through the Home Buyers’ Plan down payment program. And you can take out a shared equity mortgage from the federal First-Time Home Buyer Incentive for the down payment, up to 10% if you qualify.
Where to Buy Your New Home
Transitioning areas can give you a foothold in Toronto’s and Ottawa’s fast moving real estate markets when you have a low down payment or need a CMHC high ratio mortgage. Private mortgages can also get you through the front door if you’re still saving to buy a home.
Have 5% to 19% down? Try Canada Guaranty or Sagan™ (formerly Genworth Canada) if CMHC down payment rules affect you. Shopping in neighbourhoods like Leslieville, the Junction and the Annex in Toronto or Mechanicsville and Westboro in Ottawa can get you a starter home in an area undergoing “total economic and social transformation”. It’s what the University of Toronto calls gentrification.
Some neighbourhoods can be pretty gritty beforehand. Crime Reports and Spot Crime websites collect police and crime report information you may want to look over before you make an offer on a residential or income property. Rocket Homes.com recommends Neighborhood Scout and Area Vibes for a once-over of safety, security and public school rankings.
Try talking to a realtor who knows the area, driving around various times of day or night and hanging out at local coffee shops to understand how livable an area is. Small, locally owned businesses are a sign a community is making a comeback. So is interest by foreign buyers.
Could You Rezone or Rebuild?
Before you buy, pick up a copy of the OCP (official community plan) and zoning regulations from your local city hall. It pays to know what’s planned long-term before you move in next to a future new expressway or big box development.
Rebuilding or renovating cheap properties in Ontario requires licences and permit fees. Costs vary — ask the building permit development branch at city hall. Historic areas are notorious for restrictive permitting requirements. And rezoning applications? They can take months or even years to get approved, if your city council is so inclined.
Is Your Home Worthy?
Now that you’ve decided to move in, ask if the homes you want to buy are worth mortgaging. Your banker or credit union will want to confirm that brick walk-up or 100-year-old Victorian has enough remaining economic life (REL) left in it to finance. A
certified home inspector can tell you how many years of mortgage life your home has.
You will need at least 25 years to get a desirable amortization period. Anything less and you may have to come up with more down payment or make higher payments over a shorter period.
Good news! You save interest. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.
Where Are Houses Cheapest in Ontario?
Buying Distressed Properties
Gentrifying areas can be a good place to find distressed or foreclosed properties. Home owners who are forced to sell by their lender or walk away from a mortgage they can’t afford can leave bargains behind.
Lenders are motivated to sell when a home is on the local market because of a mortgage default. They may want to unload the property quickly or even by auction to the highest bidder. They may even remove a lien from a property or pay outstanding taxes to make a home more palatable to buyers.
The money you save buying a foreclosed property can go into making it your own — buying new fixtures, putting in granite countertops or purchasing new appliances. Just be realistic that distressed properties go quickly and may not be selling for as little as you imagine. If the price is more than you can afford, consider getting a shared mortgage with family or others.
How Court-ordered Sales Work
What you see could be what you get in a court-ordered sale. You could wait a long time, months at least, for the sale to go through. If the court will allow it, be sure to have the property professionally inspected and appraised.
Homes damaged by previous owners may have short viewing hours or, for safety reasons, you could be prevented from going onsite to see for yourself. Buyers typically aren’t covered by insurance policies for problems caused by grow ops, squatters or criminal activity.
Axess Law advises distressed property buyers to investigate carefully before making a legally binding agreement of purchase and sale. You may need to negotiate the price down if a home inspection indicates significant damage or neighbourhood crime rates make your purchase a risky proposition.
Contamination or Condemnation
Your property could be contaminated with environmental toxins — explaining its strange state of disrepair or low price — or even be in line to be condemned. It’s another good reason to have Axess Law on your side. Our real estate lawyers give you solid advice on how to write the agreement of purchase and sale to cover your bases or, if needed, allow you to walk away from a purchase.
Flat Fee Legal Services for Every Budget
Axess Law has licensed real estate lawyers near you in Toronto area and Ottawa to close property sales or refinance mortgages. You may be surprised how affordable our fees really are. How much does it cost to transfer property title? An Axess Law title transfer lawyer Toronto area or Ottawa starts at $649. Sellers pay $799.99 and up and buyers $999.99 and up to close real estate transactions quickly and easily. Our real estate attorneys communicate with your lender, search and register the title to property and hand over the keys on possession day.
Remote or In Person Appointments At Convenient Times for You
Axess Law has virtual lawyers who make remote video conference calls or meet you in person at any of our Toronto area or Ottawa locations. We have Axess Law locations at hours that suit your schedule, 7 days a week, day or evening. Book easily online or dial our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line for appointments. Toll free calls accepted at 1-877-402-4207. We have onsite parking and easy transit access.