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Closing your real estate purchase

Closing day (possession day) is the day that you officially become the owner of your new property, although the entire closing process usually takes a few days, to allow for things such as the deed for the property to be officially recorded.

Your lawyer will have prepared the documents for you relating to your purchase. You will normally sign these at your lawyer's office, and of course it makes it easier to ask any questions that you may have. If you can't be present then as long as you have granted proxy to your lawyer in advance, they can complete the transaction for you. This is especially useful if you are purchasing a property while living outside Canada.

Your lawyer will also have checked in advance that the seller does actually have title to the property, that the real property report has been stamped by the council, and that any encroachments are transferred with the change of ownership. They will also have checked to see if there are any liens on the property, easements, rights or way, height restrictions etc.

At the time of closing you need to provide either a certified cheque for the closing costs and any other costs associated with the purchase, or to have already transferred the funds into your lawyer's trust account.

One thing to remember, if you are electronically transferring funds to your lawyer's trust account, make sure that you transfer enough to cover the fee that Canadian banks help themselves to when receiving electronic transfers of money. Typically $10 per transaction it can be very irritating to find that the funds transfer is short, even if it is only by a small amount.

On closing day you will be expected to do a "walk-through" of your new property to check that everything is as it should be. For example that all the furniture or rubbish has been moved, that things listed as "conditions" in the "offer to purchase" have been actually done, that there is no new unacceptable damage to the property since you agreed to purchase it. If you can't do the walk-through yourself, for example if you are purchasing the property from outside the area, province or Canada itself, then your realtor will perform the walk-through for you.

If during the walk-through your realtor finds any problems then they will report this to you and discuss with the seller's realtor or lawyer. If you are performing the walk-through yourself then you may report these things also in the same way. If they are major issues then closing may be held up until they are resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

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If there are no problems during the walk-through then your lawyer will complete the purchase and you will get the keys to your new home.

When you purchase your property there are quite a few one-off expenses that add to your final bill:

  • Appraisal fee (mortgage related)
  • Home inspection
  • Property survey (sometimes provided up front by the seller)
  • Legal fees
  • Legal disimbursements
  • Deed and/or mortgage registration
  • Adjustments for fuel, taxes etc *
  • Land transfer, deed tax or property purchase tax **
  • Mortgage interest adjustment and takeover fee (if applicable)
  • Mortgage insurance (if applicable)
  • Home & property insurance
  • Connection charges for utilities
  • Moving expenses

Once you've become the proud owner of your new property there are monthly bills too:

  • Mortgage payments (if applicable)
  • Condo fees (if applicable)
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance

* You will have to reimburse the seller for the unused portion of any prepaid property taxes.

** Land transfer, deed tax or property purchase taxes. Unless you purchase a home in Alberta, Saskatchewan or parts of Nova Scotia you will have to pay land transfer tax on your new property. Depending on which province you live in they can range from 0.5% to 2% of the total value of the property. Of course living in Canmore you won't have to worry about parting with more of your hard earned cash in another tax.