The Upfront Costs of Buying a Home

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With every home sale, there are upfront costs in addition to having a minimum 5% for the down payment. In fact, when saving for your next home, you may want to have around 8% of the sale price saved to cover all of the purchase and moving related expenses.

Assuming a purchase price of $250,000, here is a list of upfront costs and the approximate amounts and ranges you can expect if you’re looking for a new place to call home:

  • Down payment – In Canada, CMHC requires that you provide a minimum down payment of 5% to buy a home.  Estimated amount = $12,500
  • Home inspection – Make sure that your new home is safe, up to code and that no costly surprises are waiting for you by hiring a home inspector. They can usually do radon testing at the same time, but it is sometimes an additional cost. Be sure to ask what is included when you are booking your inspection.  Estimated amount = $400-$600
  • Deed transfer tax – The deed transfer tax costs 1.5% of the purchase price of your home and registers the property in your name. It is one of the most expensive closing costs you will face and your lawyer usually collects it.  Estimated amount = $3,750
  • Legal fees and disbursements – The legal fees will vary and for a straightforward sale, the fees can range from $700-$1,000.  Estimated amount = $700-$1,000
  • Property survey – A survey will show the property boundaries and identify anything that could impact the home’s value, like having a shared driveway or whether you can build a garage. Sometimes, the seller will provide a previous survey but if they don't, you may be required to have a survey done.  Estimated amount = $1,000
  • Title insurance – Title insurance protects you and your mortgage lender from things like title fraud or zoning violations. This insurance is sometimes required by your lender and is generally paid as part of your legal fees.  Estimated amount = $400
  • Prepaid taxes – Property taxes are paid in advance twice a year, so you may have to reimburse the previous owners depending on when you take possession of the home. If you close on your new home in June, for example, you will have to pay the previous owners for taxes paid from June to October. The amount will be calculated with the 1.21% property tax rate and the property value. In this scenario, you would be repaying 5 months.  Estimated amount = $1,300
  • Water test – When you buy a home that has a well instead of municipal water, you will need to have your water tested. This can be done at a variety of places, including through the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Depending on your mortgage lender, you may need to test for both bacteria and minerals.  Estimated amount = $160
  • Septic inspection – Your new home will either have a septic tank or use the municipal sewer system. It’s important to have these systems inspected to make sure they are working as they should.  Estimated amount = $600
  • Professional movers – Moving expenses can vary widely. It depends on whether you will be moving yourself, with your own truck or if you are hiring professional movers to pack and move your belongings for you. If you decide to hire movers, it will cost you more to move a 3-bedroom house compared to a 1-bedroom apartment. The distance that you are moving and which moving company you choose will also impact the cost.  Estimated amount = $1,000-$2,500
  • Service and utility hook ups – when you move into your new home, you will need to have power hooked up. Nova Scotia Power charges $28 on your first bill at the new address. Installation fees for things like internet, cable and phone costs vary by provider. Contact your provider for an accurate estimate.  Estimated amount = $300
  • Forwarding your mail – Using the Canada Post service, you can have your mail forwarded to you at your new address. This a great idea for the first 12 months after you have moved, to give yourself time to update your address with anybody who communicates with you via regular mail to ensure don’t miss anything important.  Estimated amount = $85
  • Updating your driver’s license – Having your updated address on your driver’s license will make any process that requires valid identification easier. If your license is due for renewal soon, you can have it updated when you renew and pay the standard renewal fee. If it isn’t due for renewal soon, you can have it reprinted with your new address for a smaller fee.  Estimated amount = $25
Total approximate cost = $24,220

No two homes are the same, so each property will have different costs associated with it. The ranges listed above are approximate and depend on a number of factors. Be sure to shop around and get quotes for services that match your wants and needs.

If you are interested in exploring your home buying options, a member of the CUA team would more than happy to chat with you. Give us a call at 902.492.6500 so we can help you get into your next home faster.

Revised Jul. 4, 2021

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