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March 2015

Property In Canada

Published: Tuesday 10 March 2015

The Canadian property market hit something of a landmark figure in 2014, when for the first time in the country’s history the national average value of a property surpassed CAD400,000. Given that the country’s national average property price had only reached the CAD200,000 mark in early 2003, it’s fair to say that over the past ten or so years Canada’s property market has undergone a dramatic boom. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this steep – and consistent – price growth, Canada is widely considered to have one of the most unaffordable property markets in the world. A report released by the International Monetary Fund in February 2015 stated that average house values in the country are overvalued by 20 per cent, while separate data announced by Fitch Ratings just a month earlier had showed that they were 21 per cent overpriced. However, as with many countries, Canada’s national house price growth is actually being driven by less than a handful of markets – in this case, most notably Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.


Property Prices

Average house values in each of these three cities – all of which are hugely popular settlement destinations for new immigrants – are above the national average price of CAD401,103, with the average price of a Vancouver property more than double the national average (CAD825,233). That said, average property prices in practically every other major Canadian city, or popular immigrant settlement destination, are below the national value – and it is still possible to pick up a new home for less than CAD200,000 in some areas of Atlantic Canada. In recent years, the Canadian government has attempted to curb the rising property price growth, with one step having been to tighten mortgage lending criteria.  However, it is still possible to borrow up to 50 per cent of the value of a property and the minimum loan is CAD100,000. At the beginning to 2015, interest rates were at record lows, starting from just 2.74 per cent for a one-year fixed deal, and 3.54 per cent for a five-year fixed deal. A key calculation used in any mortgage application is the debt-to-income ratio, which establishes whether you can afford to maintain the mortgage repayments, so your existing liabilities including loans, credit card payments and maintenance are taken into account, together with the proposed Canadian mortgage payments. All of this must not exceed 35 per cent of your gross monthly income. Lenders tend to look for very detailed information about your financial status, so it’s important to have any required paperwork in good order. Your chances of being accepted for a mortgage will increase greatly if you can prove that you’ve got a sound financial profile. As with property prices, what you expect to pay for  rental property varies dramatically depeding on the area in which you wish to live. Although such property varies dramatically depending on the area in which you wish to live. Although such properties are available in popular immigrant areas - can be expensive. It's probably no great surprise to discover that February 2015 data found Vancouver and Toronto to have the priciest rentals, with the average one-bedroom apartment availble for between CAD 1,063 and CAD 1,201 a month.


Buying Property in Canada

The first step when it comes to buying a house in Canada (once you have found one you like, of course), is to give the seller an Offer to Purchase (sometimes called an Agreement of Purchase and Sale depending on the province where you are buying a home). It is very helpful to work with a realtor (and/or a lawyer/notary) to prepare this offer, as it is a legal document that needs to be carefully prepared. This document includes all the details of the sale (including caveats which allow you to pull out of the sale if certain conditions are not met), so it is advised to get a lawyer to look at it before presenting it to the vendor. The realtor presents the offer to the seller, and if the offer is accepted both parties then sign the document – it becomes legally binding once it is signed by the buyer. If you withdraw from the offer at this stage for any reason other than one stated in your initial Offer to Purchase, then you will almost certainly lose your deposit (which could be anywhere between 2-10 per cent of the purchase price, depending on the province in which you are looking to buy) and could also even be sued by the seller. The majority of Canadian properties for sale are displayed on the country’s Multi Listing Service, a cooperative system for Canada’s 98,000+ Realtor members of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). Through a website (www.realtor.ca) consumers can peruse at their leisure listings from each participating board’s MLS database. If you are not in a position to buy a property immediately upon arriving to live in Canada, then in order to rent a property it is worth noting that while apartments can often be rented by the month, to rent a house you usually need to sign a rental agreement (or lease) for a year. This is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord – individual terms will usually be down to the homeowner’s own discretion. It is fairly likely that you will be asked to pay a security deposit before renting a property. A security deposit is an amount of money that the landlord keeps in case you damage the rental property. It usually equals one month of rent, and is paid back at the expiry of the lease, assuming the house is left in good condition.


Property Sizes and Features

While there is no typical type of Canadian home - each province, and even different cities within the same province, has different styles - the one thing you can be confident about is that your new home in the UK. The average size of a Canadian abode is 181m2, compared to 98.6m2 in the UK. According to Statistics Canada figures, the average Canadian dwelling has 6.4 rooms, with Newfoundland and Labrador properties boasting the most rooms (7.2) abd Nunavut the fewest (5). Although Canada may not boost the same reowned warm climate as other popular long-haul destinations for Bristish immigrants, outdoor space is still important to Canadian homeowners. Many properties boast sizable yards - ideal for snowball fights and building snowmen in the winter, and then bringing our the barbecue once the summer arrives. You can find out more about life in Canada by expoloring the Canadian section of our website.