Essential reading for first-time Canadian housebuyers
January 14, 2011 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Nyxie and I have started looking at condos and townhouses and maaaaybe small Actual Houses in Toronto and I want to know what I'm doing. My usual approach to that problem is "well, read a lot".

So what should I be reading, to learn about house-buying and especially about mortgages? Books preferred, but great websites also useful. Obviously, Canadian subject matter is best.
posted by mendel to Work & Money (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've never read any books on the subject, so I can't help too much there.

Your best bet for starting out is the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's website -- basically the entire buying a home section. CMHC is a Crown corporation which does a lot of regulation and such, and provides things like mortgage insurance. They also do homeowner (and potential homeowner) education.

They've got a lot of documentation on how mortgages work, what you need to know about home buying, all about the process, etc. The other nice thing about sites like this is that the regulations do change from time to time, and books may or may not give you outdated information.

Another good resource would be your credit union or bank; I met with my credit union's mortgage adviser once, and we went through the whole process together, even though I wasn't planning to do anything for some time yet. They're good resources for going over what payments might be, what you can afford, etc.

Good luck!
posted by criacow at 4:06 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding meeting with the bank early on in the process to get a pre approval for a mortgage so that you have an idea of what price range to shop. There are books like buying a home for Canadian dummies which are ok but I found that a lot of the imformation was provided by the CMHC website and a good realtor can really provide a lot of guidence. Also check out MLS to get an idea of the houses currently on the market.
posted by saradarlin at 4:20 PM on January 14, 2011

When we first started thinking about house-buying - well before we could afford one - I did two things that helped immensely.
1. I bought a Dummies book. Sometimes they really are amazingly helpful.
2. I went to my TD Canada Trust branch and spoke to an advisor on the basic topic of "what do we need to be doing now to buy a house in five years?". He gave us half an hour of very very useful advice.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2011

Response by poster: Just before this gets too far off track: I'm really asking about books here. I want to understand mortgages and house-buying to the point where I could advise other people on them. That's how I get comfortable with things.

There will also be advisors and realtors and mortgage brokers and so on, but this here is just about my reading list.
posted by mendel at 5:23 PM on January 14, 2011

I bought a house 10 years ago, and am now in the process of buying a bigger one/selling the one I've got. I didn't do a lot of research about it, I just dove in, and my realtor explained everything to me as we went along. So, I don't have book reccomendations but if you need the contact info for a really great realtor, memail me, the one I'm working with is really super.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:09 AM on January 15, 2011

Best answer: Garth Turner is a former Canadian MP who blogs about the Canadian real estate market at (he has also written a few personal finance books)

Start at the latest entry and read back. His website offers a much different view than the current media/general public perspective.
posted by davey_darling at 5:59 AM on January 15, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, so, I've successfully bought a house, we close this week!

Advice to anyone happening across this: Home buying basically comes down to "a bunch of people who do this for a living are going to take care of everything for you".

Aside from the best answers above, there was one book that I found useful about mortgages: Mortgages Made Easy: The All-Canadian Guide to Home Financing by Douglas Gray. I found mortgages were the one place where we were sort of left with "Here's a bunch of options, most of which are a good idea in some circumstances, which would you like?" and that prepared me.

(By the way, the Dummies book is, sadly, out of print.)
posted by mendel at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2011

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