Making the decision to move to another country is never an easy task. There are many variables that need to be considered that range from facilitating immigration visa applications, arranging the proper travel documents, ensuring that you have enough money to settle and support yourself and/or family and finding the right place to settle down and plant your roots.
Finding and buying a home in Canada is already a difficult affair as a citizen of the country. Having to navigate the complicated Canadian housing market as a non-citizen is an even harder task.
Permanent residence status holders are caught up in a unique position where they are entitled to the same tax-funded governmental benefits that Canadian citizens are entitled to but are still exempt from other preferential benefits.
This extends to finding suitable property to settle down on within the housing market. Repeatedly new permanent residency recipients hit an insurmountable wall of bureaucracy and administrative red tape that hinders their ability to buy and own a house in Canada.
As a means of providing a service to our customers with respect to easing their concerns around this issue, we have compiled a list of basic requirements and things you need to know and do in order to buy a home in Canada as a non-Canadian.
Housing in Canada
One of the foremost considerations PR recipients have to worry about when deciding to buy a house in Canada is how much space/land they need to have depending on the amount of people they have immigrated with to Canada. If it’s just you that has made the great permanent trek to Canada, then it is likely that all you will need is a studio or one-bedroom apartment.
When you have moved permanently to Canada, it’s important to be smart about your buying options and choices. For example, consider these two questions when deciding whether or not to take an apartment or house: Should I sign a lease to rent a two-bedroom apartment just for the sake of having a spare room? Or should I decide to rent a more expensive apartment before I have landed my dream job?
Even if you may not intentionally factor it into your intentions, saving money wherever it is possible is necessary if you are going to survive with what you have until you get a good job. Should you be fortunate enough to receive a job offer, you still are going to need time to get used to paying likely more for nearly everything than what you did back in your home country.
Even if this isn’t always the case, being ranked one of the best first-world countries in the world next to Australia, Switzerland, and Denmark, there is no doubt that you may have to turn your pennies over twice and indulge in a bit of a more frugal lifestyle during your first few months as a homeowner in Canada.
Costs Associated With Housing in Canada
This goes for when you start your search for a house to settle in as a Canadian permanent resident. As mentioned, if you are more than one person immigrating to Canada, you are going to have to consider the cost of living for more than one person, given that you are moving with your family.
Once you have decided what the size, preferences, and budget of your new home should be, you will surely find some options with reasonable prices on the Canadian housing market to match what you are looking for. When you purchase a house in Canada, in the same vein of many countries abroad, your “landlord” is the designated Canadian bank who owns your house or sometimes, the entire property that you live in.
In some cases, banks can hire property and asset managers to collect your bond in the unfortunate circumstance of your payments going into arrears, but normally they collect it themselves. Every Canadian province and territory has different laws regarding bond payments and criteria on what banks are responsible for, which can be reviewed here.
Banks are responsible for explaining relevant laws for the province or territory you live in and must provide you with the contact information of real estate authorities like the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Your bank is also charged with ensuring the property you have selected for purchase is situated in a secure environment and is in good condition.
Unless you purchase your home at full price, you are expected to pay your bond in full on time. Contact your Canadian bank if there is anything that must be fixed. You must also contact your landlord if anything breaks and needs to be fixed and allow the landlord manager access to your home when something needs to be repaired or the apartment must be shown to potential tenants if you want to move.
Purchasing a Home as a Non-Canadian
To look for housing options in Canada, you can ask for referrals, check classified ads in community centers on bulletin boards and newspapers and check online classified ads.
You can also visit real estate agency websites, ask for help from an immigrant-serving organization, find an estate/property management firm to help you find the ideal home, or visit neighborhoods and search for “for rent” signs on either houses or buildings.
Before visiting an apartment or house that you could potentially purchase, we recommend making a list of questions that you would like to ask your bank or landlord before considering buying the given property.
In Canada, your bank or realtor is likely to ask you questions regarding your personal/demographic information such as where you work, reviewing your credit history, and ask you questions regarding your current salary.
If you are yet to start a job or don’t have one, don’t have references, or credit history in Canada, you can seek help from an immigrant-serving organization.
The following presents a more thorough breakdown of everything you need to know and do regarding the basic requirements to buying a home in Canada as a non-Canadian.
Looking for a Home
Before starting your shop for a home journey, you’ll want to plan ahead for the costs of owning a home. Costs will include:
- Property taxes
- Home repairs
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has simple calculators and worksheets you can use.
To search for a home to buy:
- Visit the Realtor.ca® website
- Visit areas where new homes are being built
- Read the new homes section in newspapers or real estate magazines
- Tell friends, family and work colleagues that you’re looking for a house
- Visit real estate websites for information and photographs on different homes
- Drive around a neighborhood that you like and look for “For Sale” signs
Real Estate Agents
Real Estate agents can help you find and buy a home. They will:
- Listen to your needs
- Arrange for home visits
- Arrange a professional home inspection
- Help you get a good price
To find a real estate agent:
- Ask your bank and people you know if they know a real estate agent
- Look for the names of real estate agents on “For Sale” signs in neighborhoods you like
- Visit the Find a REALTOR® search section on the Canadian Real Estate Association website
Making an Offer
Once you’ve found a home, it’s time to make an “offer to purchase.” If you’re using a real estate agent, they will help you make the offer.
If your offer of purchase is accepted, you’ll need to hire a lawyer or notary to transfer your home to your name. You can find one online or ask your real estate agent.
Financing Your Home
A lot of homebuyers need a mortgage loan to purchase their home. You can get a mortgage loan from:
- Other financial institutions, like: credit unions, caisses populaire, insurance companies
You primarily pay back a mortgage through regular payments over a period of time. This period is usually up to 25 years. You will be charged interest to borrow this money.
Read more information on mortgages on the CMHC website.
Down Payment and Mortgage Loan Insurance
The amount of your mortgage is the price of the home minus the amount of your down payment. If the down payment is less than 20 percent of the price of your new home, you may need mortgage loan insurance.
Mortgage loan insurance protects the bank or financial institution if you can’t pay back the mortgage. It also lets you get a mortgage for a lower down payment and a lower interest rate.
Ask your bank or financial institution about mortgage loan insurance.
Credit Score and History
Having a good credit history is very important when you’re trying to get a mortgage. As a newcomer to Canada, you may not have a credit history that Canadian banks recognize.
To buy a home, you should start getting a new credit history as early as possible. Speak with your banker about making a plan to start a credit history.
To make an offer on a house, you should make your offer with the condition that the home must pass a professional home inspection. This lets you cancel or change your offer if the inspector finds serious problems with the house.
To find an accredited home inspector, see:
- Hiring a home inspector
- Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors
- Inspectionpréachat.org (in French only) Quebec website
Other Forms of Housing
Governments are in the position to help if you have low incomes that make it hard to afford the cost of a home. New immigrants or refugees can move into subsidized homes, but your name will be put on a waiting list.
You cannot add your name to a waiting list before you arrive in Canada. Once you arrive in Canada, ask an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town about local subsidized housing.
Co-op housing is a group of apartments or houses that:
- Often have lower than average rent costs
- Expect you to help manage and maintain the co-op
- Are owned and managed by the members who live in them
Post-secondary Student Housing
Most universities and colleges provide you with information about on-campus and off-campus housing. Contact the housing department of the university or college you plan to attend.
Emergency housing which is also referred to as shelters is a short-term place for people who are homeless or in crisis. It’s a safe place where you can get basic necessities such as:
Emergency housing is helpful if you:
- Get evicted from your home
- Are without a place to sleep
- Are at risk of being abused if you stay in your home
With regards to international migrants, emergency housing is best suited and mostly utilized to accommodate refugees and political migrants.
Staff and volunteers at shelters assist with:
- Support and information
- Legal advice
- Financial help
- A new place to live
If you did not have time to pack, they also provide:
If you’re abused and/or come from a social background that is not conducive to your overall physical and mental well being , the shelter staff won’t tell the person who abused you where you are. Telephone numbers for shelters are usually listed in the first few pages of the telephone book with other emergency numbers.
You can call a shelter for advice without having to provide your name. Some staff members speak different languages or can have an interpreter help.
Housing for Seniors
There are assisted housing options for seniors in Canada. These include government-funded and private residences for seniors.
Why Purchase a Home in Canada
The Canadian housing market has been heating up. Bolstered by the perennially increasing numbers of immigrants that are moving to Canada’s urban centers in order to start a new life, its housing bond market is experiencing unprecedented levels of activity.
With auxiliary industries such as construction, mining and materials propping up the demand from current and prospective immigrants to Canada, and the capital flows from the financial centers in Toronto and Montreal continuing to pump money into the industry, there has never been a better opportunity to purchase a house in Canada.
A small caveat in the process of purchasing a house in Canada is that with 13 provinces and territories to choose from, it’s not as easy to find the best place to live in Canada as you may think.
Having many options to choose from that are applicable to different kinds of people and their needs, you can rest assured that you have taken a step in the right direction towards a brighter future.
Among the many reasons Canada is great is that it revolves around offering something for everybody and leaving no stone left unturned in its objective to welcome people from all over the world into the country.
How we can Help you Purchase a Home in Canada
If you have your permanent Canadian residency status and have decided to purchase a house in Canada, we recommend starting the process today with us at CanadianVisa.
By getting in touch with one of the government-approved Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) we work with, you can get the ball rolling on assisting you to get in touch with a Canadian bank and/or Realtor who can facilitate the legal purchase of your house.
We are positive that our services will prove vital in facilitating changing your life for the better and building a brighter, more prospective future today. If you already have an RCIC, find out whether they are eligible to assist you here.
What is the Best Place to Purchase a Home in Canada?
Toronto, Ontario is the best place to purchase a home in Canada. Should you be lucky enough to afford purchasing a property in Canada, the return on investment on this property will have higher yields than if you would have purchased it in any other Canadian city.
What is the Worst Place to Purchase a Home in Canada?
There is no definitive place considered to be the worst to purchase a property in Canada, however Oakville, Milton and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan are generally considered to be the worst places to purchase a house in Canada due to the elevated crime rates.
What is the Median Housing Price in Canada?
The average and/or median housing price in Canada as of the present time is approximately 704,000 C$ (Canadian dollars).