FirstHome: Closing & Moving In

Purge & Save

Moving expenses can put an unexpected strain on your budget. They are a significant closing costs line item, as much as $2,000 to $6,000, depending on your belongings, the distance and season of your move, and other variables. But cutting moving expenses can be relatively painless — if you do it right.

Saving with a discount mover can be risky. News reports and crowdsourced review sites often mention unscrupulous fly-by-night movers who scam budget-minded households by “holding belongings hostage,” until you pay a higher than agreed price, theft, refusing to pay for damaged goods, or even failing to show up on moving day.

Renting a truck or van and taking a DIY approach will save you big bucks — if you are willing to sweat and have some strong friends who can help. It’s considerably more stressful than hiring pros and, from a logistical perspective, best suited to small moves, such as to or from a studio or one-bedroom condo or apartment.

But the most pain-free and effective method of cutting moving expenses may be one you haven’t considered: simply moving way less stuff.

Purge and save

By purging a lot of your furniture and personal effects, you’ll cut down on moving expenses by doing the following:

  • Having fewer belongings to move

  • Paying less for packing services, if you go that route

  • Reducing or eliminating the need for a storage facility rental

  • Buying or renting fewer moving supplies

  • Potentially earning extra cash (garage sale), which can be used to offset your moving expenses

Win-win-win, right? Start the downsizing well before your move, way before things get hectic.

Purge big for bigger savings

Start by assessing your furniture, especially the largest, heaviest items. Maybe you have a beautiful oversize sofa. Will it complement your sleek microcondo? Will it even fit through the door? And if not, should you spend $150 per month to keep it in storage (because it probably won’t fit in your tiny condo locker)?

Unless something is a valuable or sentimental investment piece, a smart first-timer move might be to sell off as much furniture as possible. Your savings can offset the cost of new items chosen specifically for your new home.

Pack and eliminate

When it comes to smaller items, such as countertop appliances, clothes, personal collections and other objects, if it’s been over a year since you’ve used something, you’re better off without it. Bye-bye, bread maker! One of the most efficient ways to edit your belongings is to pick one space at a time — a bedroom, closet or bookcase, for instance — and go on a decluttering blitz. Work with three large bins or trash bags. Dedicate one for packing, one for selling/ donating (gently used items) and one for recycling/ trash (not-so- gently-used items, damaged items).

Donating and selling have their own relative merits. Donating helps others while saving you time (drop off your donations and you’re done!). Selling offsets moving costs but takes time, whether you throw a yard sale or advertise your items online. Another route is trading. Popular cash-free trading sites can help you save money if you swap that old bread maker for someone else’s recently used moving supplies, for example.

Remember: The more you eliminate, the less you have to pack. Your net savings? Time, money, and moving day anxiety, too.

Finally, if you’re asking yourself “should it stay or should it go?”, err on the side of minimalism and let it go. Your new home will thank you.

Closing Costs

Buying your first home is all about smart budgeting—saving enough for a down payment, crunching numbers to determine how much mortgage you can afford, allocating funds to DIY your fixer-upper into move-in condition. But the costs don’t end there. The good news: planning in advance ensures financial bumps won’t detour your homeownership plans.

Be prepared for these additional costs:

  1. Home Inspection In tight markets like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, bidders sometimes forgo home inspections, however, knowledgeable borrowers tend to invest in a home inspection report before putting in their offer. A certified home inspector can save you thousands of dollars by tipping you off to problem areas and repairs needed down the road.

  2. Legal Fees Once you sign your offer to purchase, you’ll need to hire a real estate lawyer, or notary in Quebec, to handle your paperwork and file your transactions. This includes conducting a title search, registering your new place in your name, and making sure the down payment and land transfer tax goes to the correct offices on time.

  3. Provincial Land Transfer Tax Most provinces charge a land transfer tax when you purchase property. Rates are a percentage that varies based on property value. To help offset these costs, some provinces or cities offer land transfer tax rebates for first-time homebuyers. Check your provincial or municipal government’s website for more information on available resources and rebates.

  4. Provincial Mortgage Registration Fee Check whether your province levies a mortgage registration on title fee on property sales that involve a mortgage.

  5. Municipal Land Transfer Tax For Torontonians, the real estate taxman hits twice, with Canada’s only municipal land transfer tax, which is paid in addition to the provincial tax. It’s advisable to check your municipality for any similar municipal taxes.

  6. Mortgage Insurance All-high-ratio mortgages (where the borrower’s down payment is less than 20% of the home’s purchase price) require mortgage default insurance from an insurer such as Sagen. The insurance premium is normally added to the mortgage and paid by the homeowners.

  7. Title Insurance Title insurance protects you against losses arising from challenges to the ownership of your home. Examples include fraud and forgery and title defects (such as unpaid liens on the property, encroachments, etc.).

  8. Adjustments If the seller prepaid property taxes or utilities, you’ll have to repay them the prorated amount.

  9. Moving Costs And don’t forget the big day! Moving to a new home is more than just packing up and purchasing materials. You’ll need to think about specialty movers for fragile or heavy items, tipping a mover, and/or the cost to feed your friends that you’ve recruited for the day.

  10. Home Insurance To protect your nest and all its contents

House Expenditures

Be aware of these three house-specific surprise costs:

  1. Utility Deposit If you’re a new customer, you might be asked for a deposit per utility when you sign up for your services.

  2. House Upgrades When you least expect it, you might need to put in a new roof, or rip off that Insulbrick in order to qualify for home insurance (or a preferred rate).

  3. Home Maintenance Gear All you needed as a tenant was a small tool box. But as every house owner knows, power tools and property-maintaining gadgets like a lawn mower, pressure washer, wet/dry vac, ladders and other items are must-haves!

Condo Costs

Be prepared for these three potential costs of owning a condo.

  1. Special Assessments Every so often, a major repair to the building dwarfs the condo’s collective reserve fund—which you pay into with your monthly condo fees. When this happens, you can be faced with a hefty extra charge.

  2. Rent Yes, rent! If you bought off a blueprint, don’t be surprised if construction delays push your move-in date by several months. In the meantime, unless you can stay with friends or family, you’ll be paying a landlord.

  3. Occupancy Fees It can take months for a condo corporation to register a new building with the municipality. You can move in, but you’re not technically the owner of your condo yet, so you’ll be charged occupancy fees—also known as “phantom rent”.

Moving Day Countdown

Congratulations on your new home. Now it’s time to get ready, set, and… move! Things get hectic the closer you are to taking possession of your home, so the more you get done in the front end, the less stressed you’ll be in the home stretch. Here’s your downloadable pre-move to-do list.

Pre-Move To-Do List by Sagen
Download PDF • 74KB

Home Sweet Home

Here are some quick fixes guaranteed to make any home feel like your very own.

Change the locks

Replace the deadbolt or have it re-keyed for security and peace of mind.

Get it deep cleaned

Hire pros to deep-clean and detail your home before you move your possessions in.

Refresh the mechanicals

Have your ducts, furnace and air conditioning unit professionally cleaned for a breath of fresh, odour-free and allergen-free air.

Neutralize lingering odours

Place dishes of activated charcoal, also called activated carbon (available from aquarium stores), in musty, damp basements. Pour white vinegar down a stinky drain.

Apply a coat of paint

Repaint your space with colours you love.

Freshen the floors

Refinish scratched hardwood. Consider replacing worn carpet or laminate flooring. Add colour and texture with area rugs and runners.

Clean the windows

A thorough cleaning will make your home look brighter and fresher.

Brighten the lights

Screw in bright, energy-saving LED bulbs. Consider upgrading dated lighting fixtures.

Replace the switch plates

Or opt for energy-saving dimmer switches instead.

Display your art & photos

Get your kids’ masterpieces onto the fridge and deck out your mantel and walls with your fave artwork and photos! Now that you’re in your own home, go wild and make it yours.

Help in Difficult Times

Sometimes unforeseeable events can have a devastating impact on our financial lives. Missed mortgage payments can threaten homeownership, so it’s important to get help as soon as you need it.

Job loss, a reduction in hours at work, a marital situation or an illness in the family, are all examples of common life events that may impact a homeowner’s ability to pay their mortgage.

Sagen’s Homeowner Assistance Program offers temporary assistance to those having difficulty making mortgage payments. The help can be the difference between homeowners keeping their home or going into foreclosure.

For qualified homeowners, after reviewing each case and speaking with the homeowner about their difficulties and their needs, a Sagen representative will discuss possible solutions, which include:

  • Partial payments;

  • Extending the amortization period;

  • Recapitalization;

  • Or a combination of these solutions.

There are no fees, charges, or costs for any service we provide for the homeowner, as long as they have a Sagen insured mortgage that qualifies for this program. In rare cases, if the assistance isn’t enough to save the home in question, owners can get help selling the property, to do so in the most efficient way possible. The team is here to try to help get homeowners back on their feet.

3 ways to cope with financial hardship

  1. Know your mortgage payment dates. Make sure there’s money in your account to cover them.

  2. Look — and plan — ahead. If you think you might face some financial turmoil in the near future, be proactive and seek help.

  3. Get in touch with your lender right away. The earlier they’re aware the greater the chance of finding a solution and prevent the mortgage from going into arrears.

Thanks for taking this FirstHome Journey with us! It has been a pleasure going through the process with you.

Article Credit: Sagen resources such as this guide are designed to help homebuyers make financially sound choices. Check out their online resources at for more!