tips & tricks

First Time Home Buyers: 5 Steps to a Successful Home Purchase

Purchasing a property is the biggest, most important purchase in most individuals' lives, and it can be stressful, especially for first time home buyers. Having the help of an experienced mortgage broker, realtor, and legal team can put your mind at ease.

To help you get started, we've outlined a tried and true method for a successful first purchase:


1. Establish a budget.

This part sounds simple, but with ever-evolving mortgage rules, it is crucial that you find a reputable mortgage broker who can consider all available options for your particular circumstances.

In addition to the cost of the property, it is important to consider additional closing costs, which could include the land transfer tax (and whether you are eligible for a rebate), government registration fees, title insurance, legal fees, and other professional fees that may apply.

2. Retain a reputable realtor who has experience working in your target market.

Personal transactions often require extensions, or include terms that cannot be met, which may lead to a breach of contract. An experienced realtor will not only help you negotiate a fair purchase price, but will also have a keen eye for defects, location, layout, upgrades, renovation costs, etc.

3. Retain a (GooD) real estate lawyer.

Once you've chosen a lawyer, your realtor can send them the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) shortly after it is executed.

Carson Law would be pleased to review an agreement at any point, even before a formal offer has been made, and especially if there are unusual circumstances that require a second pair of eyes.

One thing that Carson Law always encourages potential home buyers to do, especially first timers, is to not be afraid to seek legal advice early in the buying process. We are willing to perform services, such as title searches, that would help with the vetting of a property before an offer is made. Afterall, spending around $100 to help make a decision about an asset worth hundreds of thousands just makes sense.

4. Provide your lawyer with a firm signed deal.

Once our office has a firm signed deal, along with the APS, we will open a file. At that time, we will require a few pieces of information from you and your contacts, including:

  • Your personal information
  • Your mortgage information
  • Your home insurance information
  • Your history of property ownership
    • In many cases, first time home buyers qualify for a substantial credit towards the land transfer tax.
  • A title search
    • Searching the history of the property ensures that the buyer does not inherit any title defects.

With this information, our team can lead you through the next steps, which include:

  • Finalizing all costs, like the amounts of the land transfer tax, government registrations fees, title insurance fees, legal fees, and HST
  • Scheduling a meeting to review all legal documentation; and to sign final mortgage documentation, transfer and deed documentation, and ancillary documentation
  • Notifying you of the successful closing of your purchase on the closing day
Closing day is an exciting time, and you will be hoping to pick up the keys to your new home as soon as you can. It is important to keep in mind that most closings are finalized during the late afternoon. Our team will ensure that every step of your purchase is completed correctly, which requires thorough work down to the last detail. Plenty of time is required for us to consult with the lawyer representing the seller to transfer funds, verify funds, courier original signed documents and keys, and to release and register the deed which will list you as the new owner of the property. Once these steps are complete, our staff will contact you to pick up your keys.

5. After closing, ensure everything is as it should be.

We suggest you take the following steps to ensure everything is in order at your new property:

  • Look for any new damage in the property. Photograph the property before moving any of your belongings in.
  • Look for garbage, debris, or other unwanted items left behind.
  • Contact hydro and utilities companies to initiate your accounts.
  • Contact your tax company to ensure that they have everything they need to bill you. Doing so will ensure that your taxes stay up-to-date, and that you remain in good standing. If any outstanding tax or water bills show up, contact your lawyer immediately.

Bonus Tip

One more thing that we can't stress enough is the importance of trying to take emotion out of the home buying process. Many potential buyers, especially those purchasing for the first time, get hung up on properties that they think are "the one" and either end up making an offer that they can't afford, ignore serious defects, or agree to waive having a home inspection done. Each of these oversights can have serious repercussions. Purchasing a home needs to be seen for what it is... the acquisition of a significant asset. If the situation is not a good one, you must be prepared to walk away.

We hope that this guide has helped to prepare you to search for your first home. If you have any questions, our team at Carson Law Office would be pleased to assist you.

While on the subject of first time home buyers, have a look at this great video we did with our good friend Limor Markman where we talk all about this topic in greater detail.

Buying/selling a house in an unknown market… Being proactive and having a Plan B.


There are 2 situations that we have recently been experiencing with clients more frequently and with greater consequence as a result of recent housing and real estate market uncertainties:

1) A client makes a purchase and is having difficulties selling their current house, has sold but at a drastically reduced price, or their sale is falling apart due to lack of funding on the other side; and,

2) A client has signed an agreement to purchase, but the bank’s appraisal of the property is less than what they have agreed to pay for it.

Use the following tips to help prevent and/or recover from these unfortunate scenarios.

Be Proactive

  • Try to take emotion out of the equation. Seeing the purchase/sale of a house for the TRANSACTION that it is, will help you to make sound, safe decisions.
  • No unconditional offers. Under no circumstances should any offer be made UNCONDITIONALLY (ie. without inspection, appraisal, title search, or condition of selling/financing).  Having proper conditions in place helps to protect both sides of the deal, not just purchasers.
  • Get a home inspection. Especially if one hasn’t been pre-done by the seller.  After all, you wouldn’t buy a car, particularly a used one, without test driving it first to make sure it runs as expected.
  • Base your mortgage on an actual appraisal, not just pre-approval figures. If the lender's or mortgage insurer's assessment determines that you overpaid, or the property has faults, your pre-approval can become void or your final mortgage amount can be less than expected.
  • Involve a lawyer early.  Lawyers can provide insight into the history of the property’s ownership as well as review initial offers for areas of concern.

Plan B Options

  • Ask for a closing date extension. First and foremost, ask for more time to secure funding or complete your sale.
  • Refinance from other asset pools, such as cottages or recreational properties.
  • Vendor Take Back Mortgage. Consists of the seller offering to lend funds to the buyer to help facilitate the purchase of the property.
  • Private 2nd Mortgage.  While arranging a second mortgage with a private lender will likely cost more than receiving lending from a financial institution, it will still cost less than what might happen if forced to walk away from a signed agreement.

Legal ramifications should you walk away from a signed purchase agreement

  • Immediate loss of initial deposit
  • Potential for being sued for the difference between what you agreed to pay and what the seller is able to get with a new deal (if the new deal is less)
  • Possibility of being sued by realtor for lost commission(s)
  • Responsibility to cover additional legal and carrying costs

If you have run into the above issues, or for more information about how we can help with your home, your business, or your future, feel free to call 905-336-8940 or e-mail