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12 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a New Home

Your real estate agent knows the market. It is their job to pay attention to real estate sales and help you find a home that meets your needs. But before you buy a new home, you need to be sure that you’ve protected your own interests. When you hire a lawyer to assist you with purchasing a home, they can help you answer some important questions.

The Canadian Bar Association has a list of 12 questions that they recommend asking before you buy a house.

  • Are there any liens or outside claims from unpaid debts for past work? Any outstanding judgments or municipal work orders? Have utilities been paid? Did the builder have the necessary building permits and work orders for any work done?

  • Does the property comply with all by-laws? For example, is the fence height legal? Is the parking are allowed by zoning? How will any easements and rights of way effect or limit my use of the property?

  • Are there any special zoning or other rules or restrictions that apply to this property? For example, is it in a heritage district?Can I put in a clothesline? Is an above-ground swimming pool allowed? Is the sump pump discharging according to local regulations?

  • Does the property have asbestos, UFFI, lead paint? If yes, what can I do about it?

  • Is the current owner leaving behind the appliances? The garden shed? The lighting fixtures? The curtains and blinds? Does the owner need to fix anything before the sale closes?

  • Can I rent out the basement? Can I have a tenant?

  • What does the condo’s status certificate tell me to expect?

  • What do the mortgage papers from the bank mean? Can I pay off, refinance, or sell early without paying a penalty? Will my interest rate change? When?

  • I am buying the property with someone else. What does it mean to be “tenants in common” or “joint tenants”?

  • Is the title free and clear? Is the survey acceptable? Should I get title insurance?

  • What costs should I expect (for example, adjustments, land transfer taxes, mortgage, property taxes, CMHC insurance).

Print off a PDF of these questions here: Before-you-buy


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