10 Biggest Questions from First-Time Buyers ANSWERED!


You’re ready to buy a house (or at least start thinking about it). The housing market can be an intimidating place for first-time homebuyers. But it doesn’t have to be! Here’s 10 of your most common questions answered!

1) Who Qualifies As A First-Time Home Buyer In Ontario?

You are considered a first-time home buyer if, in the four-year period, you did not occupy a home that you or your current spouse or common-law partner owned.

2) How Much Do First-Time Home Buyers Have To Put Down In Ontario?

When you purchase a home, you are expected to put down a down payment while your mortgage will cover the rest. The amount you are expected to put down depends on the price of the home you purchase:

$500,000 or less = 5% of the purchase price
$500,000 to $999,999 = 5% of the first $500,000 of the purchase price, then 10% for the portion of the purchase price above $500,000
$1 million or more = 20% of the purchase price

3) What Benefits Do First-Time Home Buyers Get In Ontario?

When buying your first home, there are more costs involved than you may expect.

Thankfully, first-time home buyers in Ontario have exclusive access to programs to help offset some of the costs. From Rebates to Tax Credits, there are a variety of initiatives available to support prospective home buyers on their journey to homeownership.

4) What Do Banks Look For When Buying A House?

Lenders assess income, current debts, and credit history to determine the borrower’s creditworthiness. A mortgage affordability estimate uses an estimate of other debt payments as a percentage of gross monthly income and of the down payment as a percentage of the purchase price.

5) What Is The #1 Feature To Consider When Buying A Home?

The location. Location is the one thing about a house you can never change no matter how much money you spend, so it’s absolutely critical that you confirm any property you buy is in a convenient spot. Remember, this is your first home, and most likely not your forever home. You may not get the double-car garage and sprawling greenspace with a pool in the first home you purchase, but getting your foot in the market is the first step towards the home of your dreams.

6) How Long Does It Take To Find A Home?

Once your financing is in place pre-approved for a mortgage you are satisfied with, the hunt can begin. The amount of time it takes to find your home can vary depending on market conditions and your personal needs. Typically, a home can be found in 30-45 days, but sometimes longer if inventory is low.

In a buyer’s market, however, things can move very quickly. Lots of homes available mean you can see more quicker. One busy weekend and you could be a homeowner by Monday!

7) How Much Are Closing Costs in Ontario?

Home closing costs typically amount to anywhere from 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price. Closing Costs Include: Home Inspection, Appraisal Fees, Lawyer Fees, Moving Costs and Condo Status Certificate Fees.

Remember there are benefits and credits available to First-Time buyers that could assist in these costs.

8) What Are The Ongoing Costs Of Owning A Home?

If you’re used to renting, many of the ongoing costs of homeownership might be new to you.

When you’re thinking about purchasing a home, try to estimate the ongoing costs like:

In addition to one-time setup costs, you’ll have to pay monthly utilities; electricity, gas, water, internet, and so on. Many of these costs are much higher than what you’d be used to paying as a renter.

Property taxes vary widely depending on where you live and the valuation of your home, but generally will be thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. You can usually find the property tax history of a home you’re looking at either directly in the listing, or by asking your REALTOR® to find out.

Maintenance and repair. You should budget between one to four percent of your home’s value for annual maintenance. It’s a wide range, but you can use the age of your home as a guide for which end of the scale you’ll be on.

Home insurance. If you had tenant insurance, you may be used to certain premiums, but insuring a whole house costs more. You can get a home insurance quote for your new house to give you an idea of the cost.

9) Are There Any Problems With The House? Have There Been Problems In The Past?

This is a big one. Sellers are required to disclose any KNOWN defects in the home that they’re aware of, but that protection isn’t perfect. Sometimes issues can exists without the seller even knowing (example, foundation cracks behind finished walls may not be easily seen).

Having your potential home inspected is extremely important, especially as a first-time buyer. It’s not a mandatory condition, but it’s encouraged for piece of mind and confidence with your purchase.

Professional home inspectors look for both visible and invisible issues throughout the house. Visible issues include problems like discoloration, mold, rotted wood, or cracks. Invisible issues like indoor air quality and radon gas leakage into the basement can only be detected with specialized equipment.

10) How Much Do I Have To Pay a REALTOR® as a Homebuyer?


In most cases, you do not have to pay your REALTOR® anything to help you purchase a home. Instead, the sellers typically pay their REALTOR® a fee, and then that listing agent pays the buyer’s REALTOR® for bringing the buyer and facilitating the transaction.

What’s important here is making sure you work with a REALTOR® that you trust for the biggest purchase of your life. Niagara has over 1500 licensed REALTORS® to choose from. It helps to ask friends and family members for referrals or advice, but also do your own due diligence and find the REALTOR® that shares your vision and values. For example, check out the members of the Portfolio Realty Group!