Online Guide for Newcomers to Prince Edward Island - Canada
Buying a Home
- Duplex is a house divided into two separate units for two different families or groups of people.
- Condo or condominium is a privately-owned apartment in an apartment building.
- Town house is an urban residential property with its own entrance, usually a narrow building which is a part of a block of similar buildings.
In PEI most common type of home people own is a house or a duplex. You can also buy an apartment (condo) or a town house. A condo can be more expensive than a house. Apartments are more commonly rented than owned in PEI.
There are benefits if you own a house. Buying a house is an investment and at the same time builds equity for you and your family.
At the beginning of 2010, the average price for a home in PEI was about $159,000. The Canadian national average was about $329,000. Housing prices change depending on market trends.
Things to Know Before You Buy a House
You should contact your financial institution to make sure you have enough money or income to make a down-payment and make the monthly payments on your house loan or 'mortgage'. This is called getting a 'pre-approved mortgage'. Many sellers want to know that you have a pre-approved mortgage before they allow you to view the house they are selling.
There are many things to be considered when you are making an offer to buy a house, such as:
- When you buy a house you must first pay a minimum 5% of the purchase price. This is called the 'down-payment'.
- A 1% Real Property Transfer Tax will be added to the selling price. You will not be charged this tax if this is the first house you have owned on PEI.
- There may be other fees like appraisal fees and mortgage insurance.
- It is important get a house inspection done as a condition of your offer. Look in the Yellow Pages under 'Home Inspection Service'. The inspector will look for things like cracks in the foundation, leaks, problems with plumbing, wiring, etc. To make sure you are protected from these problems, you, the home buyer, contract the inspector.
- If the house has its own water well, you need to have a water test completed at your expense. You do not need the water tested if you are connected to the community water supply.
- If the house has an oil tank, the seller is responsible for filling the oil tank before the change of ownership, unless you make a different arrangement with the seller.
- You will need to hire a qualified lawyer to make sure the legal documents are completed correctly. You can compare prices and services at different law firms, as the fees can vary.
- Each year you will have to pay property tax. The amount depends on the value and location of the house.
It is a good idea to find a real estate agent that you trust before you put an offer on a house. They can help you find the right home for you, negotiate an offer, understand terms and conditions, etc. Check the Yellow Pages under 'Real Estate' to find a realtor or real estate agent.
Where to Find Houses for Sale
There are many different ways you can look for a house to buy in PEI. Here are some ideas:
- Realtors: Find a realtor or real estate agent that you can trust who will help you with your search for a new home.
- PEI Real Estate Guide: This guide is published each Thursday in The Guardian. It shows pictures, locations, descriptions, and prices of properties on sale.
- Sale Signs: Walk or drive around neighbourhoods that interest you and look for signs that say 'For Sale'.
- Open Houses: Real estate agents often have 'open houses' on Saturdays or Sundays. This is a good opportunity to see the inside of a house and ask questions. Open houses are listed in the classified section of the newspaper or on the 'Open House' signs on nearby streets.
- Classifieds: The advertisement section of newspapers lists houses for sale.
- PEI Buy, Sell & Trade: This classified advertising publication has a real estate section.
- Bulletin Boards: Look in community centres, laundromats, grocery stores, and other local businesses for ads that say 'House for Sale'.
- Friends and Family: There are also houses for private sale by the owner. Some people find houses to buy through personal contacts. Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and others if they know of anyone planning to sell their house.