Canada is a vast and diverse country, both in terms of landscape and culture. While you might currently reside amid the rugged, rocky shores of Nova Scotia, you may someday want to end up in the frenetic streets of Toronto. And if you are a Torontonian by birth, you might daydream of packing up and moving out west to the serene mountains of interior British Columbia.
People do it all the time. They exercise their right as Canadians to free, interprovincial mobility. Especially this past year, as the coronavirus causes Canadians to reprioritize their lives, you hear people wonder aloud: why not move within this big, beautiful country?
How do you do it, though? While there are a few hurdles in buying a place across provincial lines, there are some things to keep in mind. If you’re planning on taking your money to another province, read this first.
The first small hurdle you will cross is in the house-hunting stage. Unless you have the free income to fly back and forth or the free time to drive, you will most likely rely on remote viewings through a realtor.
Luckily, the pandemic has been good practice for realtors in using video conference apps to show homes. Most will use either FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or a mixture of the three to take you on a virtual tour of your new investment.
A word of caution, though: choose a realtor that you trust. Physically absent from the viewing, you will rely more heavily on your realtor’s judgment. What is the quality of light? Are there any strange smells? Is the neighborhood noisy? A reliable realtor should be your senses throughout the remote viewing process.
Virtual Real Estate Legal Services
Come closing, you will need a real estate lawyer to complete the documents, review purchase and sale agreements, review the title search, review the mortgage instructions and act as a go-between with all parties – among other essential tasks.
If you are buying in another province, it is wise to use virtual real estate services for closing. In addition to being more transparent than a traditional real estate law firm (virtual lawyers often offer a fixed price quote), they are also more efficient, tech-friendly, easy-to-reach, and – crucially – are available for consultation wherever you are.
Land Transfer Tax
Certain provinces (namely, Alberta and Saskatchewan) don’t have land transfer taxes, instead of levying an affordable transfer fee. Other provinces, like Ontario, BC, and PEI, do demand a land transfer tax, but they waive the cost for first-time homebuyers. The reason this is relevant is that that fee waive is only applicable for provincial residents.
If you are buying a home in another province, regardless of whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, budget enough for the local land transfer tax. To find out how much you may have to pay, you can use RateHub’s land transfer tax calculator: input the asking price, choose the province, and it will give you a reliable estimate.
As a closing note, this article assumes that you are buying for a primary residence. If you plan on purchasing an investment property to rent in another province, there are additional resources to consider – namely, using a property management company in your absence (read pros and cons here). For buyers looking to live in their purchased home, the three tips above should suffice to help you navigate the process.