Tag Archives: closing costs

Still thinking of home ownership as an investment? Here’s proof you’re wrong


Source: The Globe and Mail

Take some advice from rookie home owner Desirae Odjick about houses as an investment.

As a personal finance blogger, she ran the numbers on the cost of owning a home and concluded that breaking even would be a good outcome when it comes time, many years down the road, to sell. “A house is not a long-term investment,” she said in an interview. “It’s not a miracle financial product. It’s where you live.”

The idea that owning a house is an investment is so ingrained that a recent survey found one-third of homeowners expect rising prices to provide for them in retirement. But rising prices do not necessarily mean houses are a great investment.

Ms. Odjick lives in a suburb of Ottawa, where the real estate market’s recent strength still leaves it way behind price gains seen in the Toronto and Vancouver areas. But her point is relevant to all markets where prices aren’t soaring, and probably to hot markets as well if you’re just now buying a first home and understand that continuous massive price gains are unlikely.

In terms of home upkeep costs, Ms. Odjick and her partner have had an easy time of it since they bought in the spring. But they’ve still had expenses that surprised them. “You can use all the calculators you want and you can plan as much as you want, but until you’re in it you really don’t know what the costs are going to be.”

One example is the $3,000 spent at IKEA to equip the house with furnishings as mundane as bathmats. Another was the cost of term life insurance, which, incidentally, is a smart purchase. Term life answers the question of how the mortgage gets paid if one partner in a home-owning couple dies.

Estimates of the cost of upkeep and maintenance on a home range between 1 and 3 per cent of the market value. Her house cost $425,000, which means that upkeep costs conservatively estimated at 1 per cent would come out to an average of $4,250 per year and a total $106,250 over 25 years. Ms. Odjick is too recent an owner to have much sense of these costs, but the housing inspector she used before buying warned her to expect to need a new roof in two or three years.

She and her partner don’t have grandiose plans to fix their place up right now, but she did mention that they are looking at having children. There will almost certainly be expenses associated with getting the baby’s room ready.

In her own analysis of housing costs, Ms. Odjick estimated the cost of property taxes at 1 per cent of a home’s value. That’s another $4,250 per year. This cost would add up to $106,250 over 25 years, and that’s without annual increases factored in.

The biggest cost homeowners face is mortgage payments. Ms. Odjick and her partner made a down payment of 10 per cent on their home and chose a two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2.71 per cent. Assuming rates stay level and no prepayments are made, this would theoretically work out to a total of $542,122 in principal and interest over the 25-year amortization period.

But rates have crept higher since mid-summer and could increase further in the months ahead. In a post on home ownership on her Half Banked blog, Ms. Odjick said the idea of rates staying level “is bananas and will not happen.”

Let’s add up the costs of home ownership as likely to be experienced by Ms. Odjick over 25 years. There’s the $42,500 she and her partner put down to buy the house, the $106,250 cost for each of property taxes and upkeep/maintenance and $542,122 in mortgage principal and interest. Total: $797,122.

Now, let’s imagine the $425,000 house appreciates at 2.5 per cent annually for 25 years. That’s in line with reasonable expectations for inflation. The future price in this case would be $787,926, which means Ms. Odjick and her partner would have paid a bit more in costs than they get for selling their house in the end.

Houses can be sold tax-free if they’re a principal residence, so there is something to the house-as-an-investment argument. But the numbers comparing what you put in and what you take out over the long term don’t exactly scream “financial home run.”

Ms. Odjick’s fine with that, because buying her home was a lifestyle decision. “If we’ve lived here for 25 years, even if it does end up costing money, then it will have been a great place to live.”

Are you a Canadian family that has made a financial decision to remain lifelong renters? If you would like to share your story, please send us an email

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Closing costs more than homebuyers often expect

Some buyers may not consider the extra costs of a home beyond its purchase price.

November is national Financial Literacy Month. The goal is to protect and educate consumers about financial services and this year’s theme is Financial Literacy Across Generations. This is the third in a series of Ask Joe columns that will touch on real estate decisions buyers and sellers face at different times in their life.


I’m buying my first home. What are some of the costs I should plan for, besides the purchase price?

Chances are you’ll have run the numbers to determine what you can afford by way of mortgage amount and payments. But

Some first-time homebuyers may overlook the fact that the price paid for a home is just one of its many costs. That’s why it’s so important to understand the full cost of buying a property.

It’s useful to separate the additional expenses into three categories: pre-closing costs, closing costs and after-closing costs.

A home inspection is the most widely recognized pre-closing cost. It may be seen as an optional expense but it’s also a smart one is because a qualified home inspector, engineer or contractor can identify underlying problems with a home’s major systems, like heating and electrical. If you’re thinking of saving some money by skipping an inspection, ask yourself, “Can I afford to learn about major, costly problems after I take possession?” If you’re buying in a rural area, you should also have the septic system inspected and water testing conducted for the good of your health.


Your lender may require, as a condition of financing, that you pay for an appraisal or survey of the property to ensure the home’s value matches its sale price.

Closing costs typically make up the bulk of the additional expenses. In Ontario, a land transfer tax is up to 2 per cent of the purchase price. In Toronto, an additional tax of up to 2 per cent applies. As a first-time buyer, you should talk with your real estate agent about whether you are eligible for a refund of the land transfer tax.

Legal fees will need to be paid to handle the documents and contracts involved in the purchase of a home. Your lawyer will conduct a title search on the home to ensure the seller can actually sell the property and that there are no liens against it. They will also register the deed and mortgage for you.


You may also need to refund the seller for pre-paid expenses — property taxes, maintenance fees, utilities, hot water heater rental fees.


Three different insurance policies round out the closing expenses. You’ll need mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the sale price. You’ll need home insurance. And title insurance will protect you against title fraud, errors in surveys and encroachment issues with neighbours.


After-closing costs include moving expenses. Some gas, hydro and water companies charge a hook-up fee and you’ll need to pay if you want to forward your mail from your old address.


Then you’ll need to factor in what you want to do with the dated kitchen and broken fence. If you want to renovate or take care of some repairs identified during the home inspection, it will add to your costs. A fresh coat of paint, some window coverings, or perhaps a shiny new fridge and stove also add up. Understanding the full cost of buying a home will help to budget for these final touches. The latest edition of RECO’s consumer newsletter, RECOnnect, has a useful overview of these costs. You can find it on the consumer side of RECO’s website, reco.on.ca, under ‘Publications and Resources’.

Source:  Special to the Star, Published on Fri Nov 15 2013
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