I plan to move to Canada to study in Toronto in 2022. I recently read that many people are moving out of the city’s core and that now is a good time to buy. What advice can you give a potential buyer like me?

Welcome to Canada! This country hosts many international students and I am sure you will enjoy your stay here at one of our fine post-secondary institutions.

Markets are always changing and some observers have noted a trend happening in large cities like Toronto: an urban-to-suburban movement thought to be related in large part to the pandemic and a changing world of work. This shift may improve the inventory of available choices and options for you to consider.

However, if you decide that now is the time to purchase a home in Toronto, you should be aware that you will be subject to certain special requirements because you are considered a non-resident buyer.

I would suggest that, right away, you hire a real estate broker or salesperson with knowledge of the local market, and who has experience in helping international buyers like yourself. Advice from a knowledgeable professional will help ensure your purchase of a home goes smoothly.

Your real estate broker or salesperson will tell you that if you need financing for your purchase, Canadian mortgage rules are somewhat different for a non-resident.

Generally, your mortgage lender will require certain documents from you and have other specific requirements — like a down payment at a certain percentage of the assessed value of your real estate purchase. It is best to work with third-party professionals like a mortgage broker, accountant and lawyer for details.

Another consideration is the speculation tax that was put into place to discourage international speculation that drives up the cost of housing in the Canadian real estate market. However, you may be entitled to a refund of this tax if you can show that you use your home as a principal residence, you are not renting it out, or you are attending school here full-time for a set period. Ask your team of professionals about the details of this initiative.

A real estate transaction is also subject to closing costs. These include lawyers’ fees, appraisal fees, land transfer tax and adjustments. All together, closing costs are usually about one to two per cent of the purchase price.

And finally, you should buy house insurance, and must do so if you require mortgage financing. If your home will be your principal residence, you should expect to pay the same insurance rates as any local resident would, so long as you have an approved mortgage from a financial institution. You may also want to ask your real estate lawyer about title insurance.

Note that if you plan to rent your home, you may have difficulty acquiring insurance as a non-resident.

When you hire people with the right knowledge and expertise, you can have some peace of mind that you are in good hands as you take the big step of buying a new home.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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