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Matts (1087)

Matts
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I work for MessageLabs [messagelabs.com] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Wednesday June 15, 2005
01:29 PM

House Buying in Canada

[ #25216 ]

It's fair to say that house buying in Canada is a very different experience to buying in the UK (including Scotland). I can only think of one bad thing in comparison, and that is the percentage you pay to the realtors here is very high compared to the UK.

Here's the good:

* You have an agent working on your behalf. This is a big difference to the UK where the agent is working entirely on the seller's behalf, and as a buyer you have to do all the legwork yourself - going around different agents trying to find properties and signing up to their mailing list.

* MLS. The Multiple Listing Service is where all the agencies list their properties, so even if you don't want an agent, there's only one place you have to go to find properties. There are a few "off-MLS" agents, but they are few and far between. It may be a monopoly but it's a GOOD monopoly to have :-)

* Nobody shows their own house. This is such a pain in the UK where people rush you through their property showing you all the things they love about the house and you think is utterly awful but can't say in front of the seller.

* The home inspection (called Survey in the UK) is much more thorough, and you get to attend. In the UK you can't be there, and you pay someone a few hundred pounds to spend maybe half an hour poking around the house. Here we paid $500 to get half a day's time with the home inspector at the property, and a full A4 folder full of extensive details about the house, plus a full manual of maintainence.

* When you make an offer on a house it has a time limit - usually until about 5pm that same day. The seller has to return the offer within that time limit.

* The seller gets to make a counter offer when they return the offer. This is so much better than in the UK where you have to hope and guess at what the seller wants.

* The whole "offer" process is completed within 24 hours instead of days and days.

* The offer is immediately binding subject to your conditions (financing, home inspection, and selling your property if you have one to sell).

* No counter offers can come in without you first being given the chance to remove your conditions (we removed ours within a week when we were sure financing was approved and the home inspection was complete).

* Once conditions are removed the contract is bound tight, and any get out gives the other party the right to sue. In the UK this doesn't usually happen until a couple of days before you move - anything can happen right up until that moment!

Now it's just that frustrating wait until we move in. 11 weeks to go!

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  • We just moved into our first house here in Minneapolis this past Saturday. Sounds like Canada works more or less exactly like the US in terms of home buying, even down to having MLS. Your entry has convinced me that I never want to try buy a house in the UK. This was enough work as it was.