Buying real estate in Toronto, Ontario, can be a lucrative investment, but only if you’re armed with the right knowledge. While you can trust an experienced real estate broker like Michelle Kam to point you in the right direction, there are other resources you can turn to that can help guide your choices.
Here are some of the top online tools that can help the buying process a little less daunting, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
Affordability Calculator (CHMC)
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is a company that offers mortgage insurance if you have less than a 20% down payment for a property, but it’s also a great place for general information, says Michelle Kam.
For example, while a bank can tell you whether you’re in good financial shape to buy real estate, the CMHC has an online affordability tool that can help you get a clearer picture of where you stand.
You input your income, monthly expenses, down payment amount, mortgage interest rate, and location, and the site will tell you how much you can realistically spend on a home. Getting a mortgage pre-approval from a lender is a way to know for sure how much you can commit.
Karl's Mortgage Calculator
Once you’ve chosen your prime real estate (and have a pre-approval from a lender), there’s another web-based app that can help you get a clearer picture of what you’ll be paying in interest during the life of the mortgage based on down payment and the rate being offered, as well as other variables.
Speaking of mortgage interest, rates are currently at historical lows, which is another reason it’s a good time to shop for real estate in Toronto, explains Michelle Kam.
Adjustable Rate Mortgage Calculator (Interest.com)
When choosing a mortgage, you will have to option to go with a fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage (also known as a variable rate). While you’ll typically get a lower interest rate up front with a variable option, there’s more risk because the rate can rise without much warning.
This web-based calculator can help you determine what your monthly mortgage payments will be at different interest rates and whether you’ll be able to afford payments if the interest rates suddenly spike. Remember, your mortgage application may also be subject to stress testing through the lender to ensure you can handle fluctuations based on your financial situation.
Land Transfer Tax Calculator (Ratehub.ca)
There are several closing costs to consider when buying real estate, such as lawyer fees, home inspection, appraisals, and more. But there’s another cost that you might not have considered when making a purchase in Toronto, and that’s land transfer tax, says Michelle Kam.
While most provinces impose a land transfer tax, there’s an additional tax added when buying real estate. This simple tool will tell you how much to expect to pay — but the good news is that first-time buyers can qualify for a rebate.
Neighbourhood Explorer (RBC)
Buying real estate is more about the home and its yard. If you plan to live in the home for an extended period of time, then it’s wise to learn more about the neighbourhood to ensure it’s the right fit, explains Michelle Kam.
Short of speaking to your real estate broker or even self-touring a prospective neighbourhood, this online tool from RBC can help narrow down the best areas of a city based on your preferences (such as being close to a school or grocery store) and buying power.