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Buying a home

  1. Keep track your expenses
  2. Make a monthly budget
  3. Take precautions and think about your estate

Buying a house or condo is a dream for many, but it isn't a decision to take lightly. There are several things to consider between the time you start thinking about taking the leap and the day you become a homeowner.

The most important thing is that you have an accurate financial picture of what to expect and budget accordingly. You'll then have to take some precautions in light of your new obligations.

The price of a home isn't limited to your mortgage payments. Far from it.

Start-up costs can represent between 3% and 5% of the purchase price and include, for example, inspection fees, notary fees, welcome tax and additional costs (moving, connecting utilities, etc.). Use the following calculator to evaluate these costs:

Start-up costs include a mortgage insurance premium, which is mandatory if you don't have at least a 20% down payment for your home. The insurance is provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or Genworth Financial Canada, and the premium can be paid either in a single lump sum or added to your mortgage and included in your monthly payments.

The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) can help you reduce or even eliminate the mortgage insurance premium. You can withdraw up to $25,000 from your RRSP (without penalty) to increase your down payment. This means that a couple could potentially increase their down payment by $50,000. It's worth considering!

If this is your first home, anticipate higher home insurance and heating costs. You should also expect to pay maintenance costs and set money aside for future renovations and repairs.

Once you have all your information, you'll be ready for the next step: making an accurate budget.

Tools and tips

HBP: using your RRSP to buy a home

How to withdraw part or all of your RRSPs without paying income taxes.

Read tip - Withdrawing from your RRSP without penalty to buy a property

Deductible moving expenses

If you're moving for a new job, some moving expenses are tax deductible.

Read tip - Tax-deductible moving expenses

You have to properly budget for a mortgage and home expenses to make sure you have some financial breathing room.

To make a realistic and efficient monthly budget, roll up your sleeves and list all of your income and expenses. It's usually easy enough to list your income, but expenses are another matter. If you need help, see 3 steps to drawing up a monthly budget.


Did you know that home expenses should account for 25% to 35% of your net monthly income? To see if your monthly budget is an adequate representation, see Determine how much to allocate to each expense category (PDF, 287 KB).

Tools and tips

Your personal balance sheet

Calculate your net worth by listing what you own and what you owe.

Do the math - Your personal balance sheet

The importance of a monthly budget

How to make a good budget in 3 steps.

Read tip - 3 steps to drawing up a monthly budget

Determine how much to allocate to each expense category

Use this calculator to find out what kind of expenses you should expect.

Do the math - Determine how much to allocate to each expense category

My budget tool

Available exclusively to Desjardins caisse members, the My budget management tool gives you an accurate picture of your everyday income and expenses.

Learn more about Budget management tool - My budget

Now that you're a homeowner, you have more responsibilities and you should be able to live up to them, no matter what happens.

Plan for the following protections. They're available from the lender, your financial institution or a broker. Take the time to compare process and coverage.

Mortgage life insurance

In the event of death, the balance of your mortgage will be paid to the lender. This is useful if you have dependants or if your spouse wants to keep the house after you pass away. Since the property can be sold to pay off the mortgage, find out if mortgage life insurance is necessary in your situation.

Disability insurance

This covers your mortgage payments in case of accident or critical illness that would keep you from working. Pre-existing health conditions, and some illnesses and accidents aren't covered. Make sure you understand the terms of your contract before you sign it. When do payments start? Am I covered in the event of partial-disability?

See a notary or lawyer

If you have a common-law spouse, see a lawyer or notary to establish or review your cohabitation contract. This document lists your respective obligations and rights, and makes things much easier in the event of a separation.

Buying a home is a good time to think about your estate. To make things easier for your loved ones in the event of your death, make a will, mandate in case incapacity (power of attorney) and a living will.

A will is even more important if you're a common-law spouse. In fact, if you die without a will and the house is in your name, your common-law spouse won't be considered an heir and won't have a right to anything.

A will is even more important if you're a common-law spouse. In fact, if you die without a will and the house is in your name, your common-law spouse won't be considered an heir and won't have a right to anything.

Once you make your will, tell your loved ones about your wishes and explain your choices. This will reduce the chances of anyone contesting in the event of your death.

If you already have a will, you may want to review it in light of your new role of homeowner.

Useful links

The Desjardins Personal Financial Index

Measure your financial skills and knowledge.

My index - Budgeting, debts, savings, insurance...
My index 2 - Have you taken control of your finances?
My index 3 - Spending, saving, protecting your assets...

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