Buying a Home

For many consumers purchasing a home may be the biggest purchase of their lives.

The best way to shop for a new home is to prepare a “must-have” list. It is recommended that you spend plenty of time inspecting all the aspects of any home that you’re serious about buying.

It is important to figure out what you can afford, based on how much money you will need to borrow, your income and expenses and any debt repayments you may have. Talk to someone at your bank, then compare mortgage rates, terms and conditions at a number of financial institutions. Mortgages vary widely. You can get a good idea of current house prices in neighbourhoods you are considering by looking at house listings in the newspaper or by searching the Multiple Listing Service or the websites of for-sale-by-owner companies, which help homeowners advertise their home but are not allowed to actually sell it.

For more information on mortgages, see “Mortgages”.

Unless you’re in a building trade, you won’t necessarily see the faults in a home you’re considering, so you may wish to hire a home inspector. Keep in mind that home inspectors are not subject to industry regulation in most provinces. You will want to do some homework to find a reliable inspector. Ask friends and neighbours for references, and ask those inspectors you’re thinking of hiring about their training, experience and membership in professional organizations. Your inspector should always provide you with a written report. Remember that most inspectors ask their clients to sign a waiver. They do this in an effort to minimize their liability in case they provide incorrect or incomplete information in their inspection reports.

The Homeowner Protection Centre (HPC) is a resource centre for homeowners. Homeowners can access information resources to assist in buying, building, maintaining, expanding, renovating and making the most of their homes. The HPC helps homeowners understand their consumer rights when purchasing or renovating a home or buying a home product or service. The HPC also helps companies become more responsive to the needs of their customers and works with builders to improve their business and customer service processes.

For more information on home buying, go to the Buying a Home section of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.

When you have a complaint about a real estate agent, contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office or real estate regulator.

New Homes

Go to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association for a list of local members. Many home builders associations provide brochures and sample contracts to help consumers understand the market.

For information on maintaining a new home, you may wish to purchase the Homeowner’s Manual produced by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Federal non-profit organizations such as Canadians for Properly Built Homes and provincial housing ministries may also be helpful.

Condominiums

You may be considering a condo, but if you’ve never lived in one, you should check into all the restrictions and rules before you buy. Ask to see a copy of the corporation by-laws; they may include very specific conditions, such as whether you may put in a garden or hang seasonal lights outside. Talk to people in the community and the manager of the corporation. Find out about maintenance fees and how often they increase. Check whether there is an adequate reserve fund in place for repairs and maintenance of major items, such as roofs, driveways and parking lots. Just as you should do when purchasing a house, have a home inspection done before purchasing a condominium.

See also the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Condominium Buyers’ Guide, available on their website at www.cmhc.gc.ca.

Renting

Many of the issues that arise when you are buying a house or condo also come up when you are looking for rental accommodation. You need to make sure that it meets your needs at a price you can afford and that it is safe and well maintained.

In addition, you will want to read the rental agreement carefully, to find out about the rules that tenants must follow and what the landlord is required to do for you. Ask about the security deposit: whether there is one, what the terms are for getting it back when you move and whether you will be paid interest. To find out if the rules in your province or territory indicate that you should be paid interst you may contact your provincial or territorial housing ministry. Landlord and tenant requirements vary across Canada so it is important to find out about the situation where you plan to live, particularly if you are moving to another province or territory.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has an extensive section on its website about renting, with tips, information, worksheets and sample letters that will help you during the rental process: www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/reho/yogureho/fore/index.

Environmentally Responsible Consumer Tip:

Heating can count for more than half the energy cost of running your house. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), more than 17 percent of the energy consumed in Canada is used in this way. Buying an energy-efficient home or making energy-saving renovations can offer big savings.

Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. CMHC has put together Renovating for Energy Savings, series of fact sheets that describe options for saving energy in houses of specific styles and ages. There is also a section on energy efficiency upgrades. Visit www.cmhc.gc.ca/en/co.

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency has introduced ecoENERGY Retrofit. This program offers Canadians financial incentives to retrofit their homes and make them more energy efficient.

Also offer resources for owners of newly built homes:

The EnerGuide Rating Service encourages the building of energy-efficient new homes by offering guidance to home builders about energy-efficient features and upgrades, and provides an energy rating label on completed homes indicating their EnerGuide rating.

  • The R-2000 Standard encourages the building of energy-efficient houses that are environmentally friendly and healthy to live in.
  • There are also energy efficiency programs for new homes available in particular regions of the country.

For more information visit: www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal

Door-to-Door Home Repairs

Sometimes salespeople come to your door offering a deal on roofing, driveway resurfacing, or furnace inspection or repair, because “we just happen to be in your neighbourhood.” Usually they insist that the contract must be signed immediately to get the special price.

This is a high-pressure sales tactic. Don’t fall for it. If you were thinking of having the work done anyway, ask the salesperson for local references. Obtain quotes from other suppliers as well.

Although the majority of sellers are honest, some are not. The seller may ask for a deposit and then never return to do the work, or the work he or she does do may be substandard. Unless you have personal references, you won’t know what you’re really buying until your money is gone. (See also the section “Door-to-Door Sales”)

Your province or territory may require door-to-door salespeople to be licensed and bonded, and may allow a cancellation (or cooling-off) period, during which you may cancel the contract for any reason. For more information, contact your provincial or territorial consumer affairs office.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Head Office

700 Montreal Road

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0P7

Telephone: 613-748-2000
Toll Free: 1-800-668-2642
Phone (TTY): 613-748-2447
Fax: 613-748-2098

Email
Websitewww.cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Prairie and Territories

Suite 200
1000-7 Avenue SW

Calgary, Alberta  T2P 5L5

Telephone: 403-515-3000
Toll Free: 1-888-841-4975
Fax: 403-515-2930

British Columbia

200-1111 West Georgia Street

Vancouver, British Columbia  V6E 4S4

Telephone: 604-731-5733
Phone (TTY): 1-800-309-3388
Fax: 604-737-4139

Websitewww.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/cous/cous_007.cfm

Atlantic

9th Floor
Barrington Tower
1894 Barrington Street
PO Box 9315
Station A

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3K 5W9

Telephone: 902-426-3530
Fax: 902-426-9991

Ontario

Suite 300,
100 Sheppard Avenue East

Toronto, Ontario  M2N 6Z1

Telephone: 416-221-2642
Toll Free: 1-800-309-3388
Fax: 416-218-3310

Websitewww.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/cous/cous_005.cfm

Quebec

1st Floor
1100 René Lévesque
Boulevard West

Montréal, Quebec  H3B 5J7

Telephone: 514-283-2222
Toll Free: 1-888-772-0772

Websitewww.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/cous/cous_004.cfm

Canadian Housing Information Centre

C1-200, 700 Montreal Road

Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0P7

Telephone: 613-748-2367
Toll Free: 1-800-668-2642
Fax: 613-748-4069

Email
Websitewww.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/li/index.cfm

Better Business Bureaus

Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C.

788 Beatty Street, Suite 404

Vancouver, British Columbia  V6B 2M1

Telephone: 604-682-2711
Fax: 604-681-1544

Email

Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island

220-1175 Cook Street

Victoria, British Columbia  V8V 4A1

Telephone: 250-386-6348
Toll Free: 1-877-826-4222
Fax: 250-386-2367

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-serving-vancouver-island

Better Business Bureau of Southern Alberta and East Kootenay

#5, 1709 8 Avenue NE

Calgary, Alberta  T2E 0S9

Telephone: 403-531-8784
Fax: 403-640-2514

Email

Better Business Bureau of Central and Northern Alberta

16102 100 Avenue NW

Edmonton, Alberta  T5P 0L3

Telephone: 780-482-2341
Toll Free: 1-800-232-7298
Fax: 780-482-1150

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-of-central-and-northern-alberta

Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan

980 Albert Street

Regina, Saskatchewan  S4R 2P7

Telephone: 306-352-7601
Toll Free: 1-888-352-7601
Fax: 306-565-6236

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-of-saskatchewan

Better Business Bureau Serving Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario

1030 B Empress Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3G 3H4

Telephone: 204-989-9010
Toll Free: 1-800-385-3074
Fax: 204-989-9016

Email

Better Business Bureau Serving Western Ontario

206-190 Wortley Road

London, Ontario  N6C 4Y7

Telephone: 519-673-3222
Toll Free: 1-877-283-9222
Fax: 519-673-5966

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-serving-western-ontario

Better Business Bureau Serving Central Ontario

903 – 30 Duke Street West

Kitchener, Ontario  N2H 3W5

Telephone: 519-579-3080
Toll Free: 1-800-459-8875
Fax: 519-570-0072

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-serving-central-ontario

Better Business Bureau of Eastern, Northern Ontario and the Outaouais

505-700 Industrial Avenue

Ottawa, Ontario  K1G 0Y9

Telephone: 613-237-4856
Toll Free: 1-877-859-8566
Fax: 613-237-4878

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/bbb-of-eastern-and-northern-ontario-and-the-outaouais

Better Business Bureau Serving the Atlantic Provinces

7071 Bayers Road, Suite 279

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3L 2C2

Telephone: 902-422-6581
Fax: 902-429-6457

Email
Website: bbb.org/en/ca/local-bbb/better-business-bureau-serving-the-atlantic-provinces

Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors

PO Box 13715

Ottawa, Ontario  K2K 1X6

Telephone: 613-839-5344
Toll Free: 1-888-748-2244
Fax: 1-866-876-9877

Websitewww.cahpi.ca

Canadians for Properly Built Homes

3659 Richmond Road
PO Box 11032
Station H

Ottawa, Ontario  K2H 7T8

Fax: 613-248-4691

Email
Websitewww.canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com

Homeowner Protection Centre

170 Sheppard Ave E Suite 202
Toronto, Ontario M2N 3A4
Telephone: 416-961-3487
Fax: 416-975-8819

Email
Websitewww.homeownerprotection.ca

Provincial and Territorial Consumer Affairs Offices

Alberta

Service Alberta, Consumer Contact Centre
3rd Floor Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-4088
Toll Free: 1-877-427-4088

Email
Websitewww.servicealberta.ca

British Columbia

Consumer Protection BC
#307-3450 Uptown Blvd
PO Box 9244

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9J2

Telephone: 604-320-1667
Toll Free: 1-888-564-9963
Fax: 250-920-7181

Email
Websitewww.consumerprotectionbc.ca

Manitoba

Consumer Protection Office, Manitoba Justice
302-258 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 0B6

Telephone: 204-945-3800
Toll Free: 1-800-782-0067
Fax: 204-945-0728

Email
Websitewww.manitoba.ca/consumerinfo

New Brunswick

Financial and Consumer Services Commission
225 King Street, Suite 200

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 1E1

Toll Free: 1-866-933-2222
Fax: 506-444-4494

Email
Websitewww.fcnb.ca

Newfoundland and Labrador

Service NL
PO Box 8700

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1B 4J6

Telephone: 709-729-2600
Toll Free: 1-877-968-2600
Fax: 709-729-6998

Email
Websitewww.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/index.html

Northwest Territories

Consumer Affairs, Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
5201-50th Avenue, Suite 600
PO Box 1320

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2L9

Telephone: 867-767-9161 ext 21022
Fax: 867-873-0309

Email
Websitewww.maca.gov.nt.ca/en/services/consumer-affairs

Nova Scotia

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Public Enquiries
Mail Room, 8 South
Maritime Centre
1505 Barrington Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3K5

Telephone: 902-424-5200
Toll Free: 1-800-670-4357
Fax: 902-424-0720

Email
Websitenovascotia.ca/sns/access/individuals/consumer-awareness.asp

Nunavut

Consumer Affairs, Department of Community and Government Services
3090 – 9th Street
P.O. Box 440

Baker Lake, Nunavut  X0C 0A0

Telephone: 867-793-3303
Toll Free: 1-866-223-8139
Fax: 867-793-3321

Email
Websitewww.gov.nu.ca/

Ontario

Consumer Protection Ontario, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Box 450
1201 Wilson Ave, Station A

Toronto, Ontario  M3M 1J8

Telephone: 416-326-8800
Toll Free: 1-800-889-9768
Phone (TTY): 416-229-6086
Phone (TTY) 2: 1-877-666-6545
Fax: 416-326-8665

Email
Websitewww.ontario.ca/consumerprotection

Prince Edward Island

Consumer Services, Department of Justice and Public Safety
Shaw Building, 4th Floor
95 Rochford Street
PO Box 2000

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7N8

Telephone: 902-368-4580
Telephone: 902-368-4550
Toll Free: 1-800-658-1799
Fax: 902-368-5283

Websitehttps://www.princeedwardisland.ca/en/topic/consumer-services

Quebec

Office de la protection du consommateur
400 Jean-Lesage Boulevard, Suite 450

Québec, Quebec  G1K 8W4

Telephone: 418-643-1484
Toll Free: 1-888-672-2556
Fax: 418-528-0976

Websitewww.opc.gouv.qc.ca

Yukon

Consumer Services, Department of Community Services
307 Black Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2N1

Telephone: 867-667-5111
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5111
Fax: 867-667-3609

Email
Websitewww.community.gov.yk.ca/consumer/index.html

Provincial and Territorial Departments or Ministries of Housing

Alberta

Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing, Housing Support Programs
18C Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-2732
Fax: 780-422-1419

Email
Websitewww.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca

Alberta

Housing Support Programs, Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing
18C Commerce Place
10155-102 Street

Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Telephone: 780-427-2732
Fax: 780-422-1419

Email
Websitewww.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca

British Columbia

Office of Housing and Construction Standards
PO Box 9844
Stn Prov Govt

Victoria, British Columbia  V8W 9T2

Telephone: 250-356-6633
Fax: 250-356-9377

Websitewww.housing.gov.bc.ca

Manitoba

Manitoba Finance, Residential Tenancies Branch
302-254 Edmonton Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 3Y4

Telephone: 204-945-2476
Toll Free: 1-800-782-8403
Fax: 204-945-6273

Email

Manitoba

Manitoba Housing Authority
Central Office
Main Floor
185 Smith Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba  R3C 3G4

Telephone: 204-945-4663
Toll Free: 1-800-661-4663
Fax: 204-948-2013

New Brunswick

Rentalsman and Consumer Affairs, Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Room 649
Kings Place
440 King Street

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 5H8

Telephone: 506-453-2659
Fax: 506-444-4494

New Brunswick

Department of Social Development
Sartain MacDonald Building
2nd Floor
551 King Street
PO Box 6000

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 5H1

Telephone: 506-453-2001
Fax: 506-453-5768

New Brunswick

Department of Social Development
Sartain MacDonald Building
2nd Floor
551 King Street
PO Box 6000

Fredericton, New Brunswick  E3B 5H1

Telephone: 506-453-2001
Fax: 506-453-5768

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation
Sir Brian Dunfield Building
2 Canada Drive
PO Box 220

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador  A1C 5J2

Telephone: 709-724-3000
Fax: 709-724-3250

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Housing Corporation
PO Box 2100

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories  X1A 2P6

Toll Free: 1-866-956-9842

Websitewww.nwthc.gov.nt.ca

Nova Scotia

Community Services, Nova Scotia Department of Community Services
Nelson Place
5675 Spring Garden Road
PO Box 696

Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 2T7

Telephone: 902-424-6830
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1177
Fax: 902-424-0661

Nunavut

Nunavut Housing Corporation
PO Box 480

Arviat, Nunavut  X0C 0E0

Telephone: 867-857-3000
Fax: 867-857-3040

Websitewww.nunavuthousing.ca

Ontario

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
17th Floor
777 Bay Street

Toronto, Ontario  M5G 2E5

Telephone: 416-585-7041
Toll Free: 1-866-220-2290
Phone (TTY): 416-585-6991

Email
Websitewww.mah.gov.on.ca

Prince Edward Island

Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property, Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission
Suite 501
134 Kent Street
PO Box 577

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  C1A 7L1

Telephone: 902-892-3501
Toll Free: 1-800-501-6268
Fax: 902-566-4076

Websitewww.irac.pe.ca/rental

Québec

Ministère des Affaires municipales, du Sport et du Loisir
5th Floor
10 Pierre-Olivier-Chauveau Street

Québec, Quebec  G1R 4J3

Telephone: 418-691-2019
Fax: 418-643-7385

Email

Québec

Société d’habitation du Québec
3rd Floor
Aile Saint-Amable
1054 Louis-Alexandre-Taschereau Street

Québec, Quebec  G1R 5E7

Toll Free: 1-800-463-4315
Fax: 418-643-4560

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Housing, Department of Social Services
6th Floor
VictoriaTower
1855 VictoriaAvenue

Regina, Saskatchewan  S4P 3T2

Telephone: 306-787-4177
Toll Free: 1-800-667-7567

Yukon

Yukon Housing Corporation
410H Jarvis Street

Whitehorse, Yukon  Y1A 2H5

Telephone: 867-667-5759
Toll Free: 1-800-661-0408
Toll Free 2: Local 5759
Fax: 867-667-3664

Email

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