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Hidden Costs of Home Buying

Hidden home buying costs can add thousands to your real estate bill. Budget carefully before you buy.

Saving for a home in places like Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe can take years. Putting aside a down payment, finding a home you can afford in a place you want to live — it all takes planning.

Have you planned for the hidden costs of buying real estate?

Average Home Prices in the GTA

Pent-up housing demand and a robust economy often drive home prices way up in major metropolises. With average selling prices topping $1.1 million for single detached homes and condos in the Greater Toronto Area, buying can seem beyond your reach.

Affording a Home

Bargains are out there. Have you tried:

Moving a bit further out?

Moving closer in to walk to work and shopping?

Asking family for help with a down payment?

Moving in with family to save for the down payment?

Going smaller?

Going bigger to rent out spare rooms or a basement suite?

Sharing a mortgage with friends?

Building co-housing to make new friends?

It all helps, plus first time buyers get extra incentives.

Making a Deposit

Before you get the home of your dreams, have you got the deposit? Home sellers want proof you’re a serious buyer. You can pay up front when you make an offer or 24 hours after it’s accepted. Expect to put down 2% to 5% of the sales price.

Depending on how your agreement of purchase and sale is written, you may get it back if the deal falls through. Or forfeit the full amount if you walk away without just cause. 

Axess Law real estate lawyers (Toronto area or Ottawa) review your offer to purchase before you submit it to protect your right to get your deposit back.

Mortgage Origination Fees

After a deposit, your mortgage lender may charge a mortgage origination fee right up front. You could pay $100 to apply for a loan or a percentage of the loan amount may be added to your mortgage. Fees cover the cost of processing a loan, checking your credit history with Equifax or others or a myriad of expenses your lender may charge.

Mortgage Loan Default Insurance

Low-ratio mortgages for buyers with the lowest down payments incur extra charges. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada Guaranty or Sagen Mortgage insurers keep down payments low (under 20%) by requiring insurance premiums.

How it works:

  • Mortgage insurance is for homes worth under $1 million. 
  • Loan insurance protects the lender’s investment if you default. You lose title to the home and your down payment if you walk away or can’t afford your home. 
  • Down payments for insured mortgages are 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the balance of your home’s sales price.
  • Insurance premiums are currently 0.60% to 4% of your home’s purchase price or value after improvements or renovations. The more you put down, the less you pay. 
  • Premiums are due when you borrow or can be stretched over your mortgage’s life (amortization), for up to 25 years.

Property Appraisals 

Property appraisers compare your home’s fair market value to the purchase price based on its size, age, condition and location. Appraisals cost around $350 to $700. More importantly, you could be asked by your lender to pay the difference between the appraised value and purchase price if they are too far apart.   

Home Inspections

A non-invasive — meaning visible, accessible inspection and not a review of building code compliance — home inspection gives you a professional opinion of the condition and performance of a home you want to buy. Average fees for registered, certified inspectors start at $525 and up.

Legal Fees in Ontario – Ask About Our Flat Rates 

Legal fees can add a bundle to home buying costs. Axess Law charges you for only the legal services you really need to buy or sell a home. Our all-inclusive, flat rate fees start at $649 plus HST for property title transfers if you already own a property. Purchasing an Ontario property starts at $999.99 plus HST and selling at $799.99 plus HST. Your fees include document searches and property title registration fees.

Title Insurance

Mortgage lenders protect the title to your property by adding a title insurance policy, starting at around $250 plus HST. It’s an extra layer of assurance against title errors, fraud or forgery by identity thieves, claims against title by previous owners or a neighbour or municipal easement that affects your property.

Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is obligatory if you plan to mortgage your home. You can’t complete the sale without a home fire insurance binder. How much you buy is up to you. 

Mortgage lenders are looking for the replacement or rebuilt value of your home for events like fire or sudden and accidental water damage. Wind storms that tear up the roof or siding are included in most policies. You pay extra for riders like floodplain insurance or overland flooding from snow melt. 

Budget an average of $20 to $50 a month for a condo or $80 to $200 for a home. Always check with an insurer to confirm how much your home will cost. Rates are based on age, location and condition.     

Land Transfer Taxes in Ontario

Provincial Land Transfer Taxes

Provincial land transfer taxes (LTT) are due during the closing transaction. Axess Law pays the tax while finalizing your property purchase. Your LTT is based on the purchase price of the land your home is on plus any mortgages or debts you assume buy a home, not the appraised value.

Taxes are calculated on a graduated scale, from $275 for the first $55,000 (0.5% of purchase price) up to 2.% for balances over $400,000. Axess Law calculates the amount owing for you.

Municipal Land Transfer Tax for Toronto Buyers

MLTT is an added cost for Toronto residents. You pay in increments based on your home’s value, from 0.5% for the first $55,000 up to a top rate of 2.5% for homes valued over $2 million. Average Toronto home buyers pay 1% on the difference between the first $55,000 and next $250,000, 1.5% for any amount between $250,000 and $400,000 and 2% on remaining balances up to $2 million.

Foreign Buyers’ Taxes

Foreign buyers are subject to federal and provincial taxes that encourage using purchased properties as rentals or principal residences. See who pays land transfer taxes in Ontario.

HST You Owe

HST or harmonized sales tax is paid when you buy a new home (13% of the purchase price), on legal fees and disbursements, mortgage appraisals, home inspections, property surveys and real estate commissions. Resale homes are exempt. Some new, renovated or rebuilt homes and housing shares qualify for HST rebates. Ask your Axess Law real estate lawyer (Ontario) if you hope to apply.

What You Get for Our Flat Rate Fees

Our flat rate legal services are all in — no unpleasant surprises when you get your bill. We check land transfer tax affidavits for accuracy and research title to the property for liens or debts that could prevent or delay a real estate closing. 

Our real estate lawyers communicate with mortgage lenders on discharging a mortgage in Ontario and finalize new loans. We pay out disbursements, like your share of prepaid property taxes or utilities, to make your purchase legal and give you an itemized bill at the end. 

Questions to ask a real estate lawyer or about Ontario real estate law? Check this out.

Real Estate Lawyers When You Need Us

Axess Law can go online via videoconference anywhere in Ontario or meet you in person at our Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa Axess Law locations. We have a mortgage lawyer near you available 7 days a week, day or evening, to refinance homes. Our cheap real estate lawyers close any real estate transaction quickly and without a fuss. Make appointments online using our easy booking form or call our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line (1-877-402-4277 toll free) for times that suit your schedule.


It was a pleasure working with Patricia from Axess Law. It was my first time purchasing a home, and was very nervous about every step in the process. I called and emailed Patricia several times with the silliest questions. She answered them all promptly, and provided the best customer service I could ask for. I would recommend Axess Law and particularly Patricia to everyone.

c Cindy Tran

In the past I had to make appointments and waited for days to see a lawyer. Now conveniently this office is at my neighborhood supermarket. I was able to walk in and get my documents signed in less than 30 minutes The staff are courteous and professional. I would recommend anyone. Prompt service.

Joy Stewart Joy Stewart

I am writing this review on behalf of my daughter who completed her first Real Estate condo transaction with AxessLaw. Besides just helping my daughter as a client, they helped her understand every single step involved in the process and the whole process was completed without any problems. I would recommend them to anyone looking for hassle free real estate transaction without thinking twice.

icon Irene Tucker


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