The MapleMoney Show » How to Spend Money Wisely » Mortgage

Answers to Your Biggest Mortgage Questions, with Jacob Perez

Presented by Wealthsimple

Welcome to The MapleMoney Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their finances to create lasting financial freedom. I’m your host, Tom Drake, the founder of MapleMoney, where I’ve been writing about all things related to personal finance since 2009.

Have you wondered whether it’s better to go with a fixed or variable mortgage rate? And where should you go to get a mortgage – through your bank or through a broker? These are the questions thousands of Canadian home buyers are asking every day.

My guest this week is a mortgage lending expert who can answer many of these questions. Jacob Perez is an Ontario-based real estate investor & mortgage agent. Jacob started investing in real estate at just 23 years old. Since then, he’s built a portfolio that’s worth more than 10 Million dollars.

As a mortgage agent, he helps his clients build wealth by reverse-engineering the borrowing system to help people scale from 1 to 10 properties. He is in the top 0.5% of Mortgage Agents in Canada by production in only his first 4 years and owns the brokerage, Synergy Mortgage Group.

At the outset of our conversation, I asked Jacob the age-old question: What’s better, a fixed rate or variable rate mortgage. While the subject is up for debate, Jacob makes some interesting points about why you should never focus exclusively on the lowest rate when getting a mortgage.

Jacob points out that for years, banks have pushed 5-year, fixed-rate mortgages, because they’re the most profitable, mainly because of the penalties associated with breaking a fixed-rate mortgage. I was surprised to learn that as many as 6 out of 10 Canadians who go with a 5-year fixed mortgage rate end up breaking the contract within the first three years. Other mortgage products, such as variable-rate mortgages, are much less costly to walk away from.

Jacob and I discuss a wide range of issues facing home buyers, like whether or not you need a mortgage pre-approval, the impact of condo fees, and whether or not government programs, like the First-Time Homebuyer Incentive, are worth it. If you’re planning to buy or refinance a home in the near future, this is an episode you don’t want to miss.

Do you prefer to invest in socially responsible companies? If so, our sponsor Wealthsimple will help you build a portfolio that focuses on low carbon, cleantech, human rights, and the environment. To get started with Socially Responsible Investing, head over to Wealthsimple today!

Episode Summary

  • For years, banks have conditioned homeowners to choose fixed mortgage rates
  • 6 out of 10 Canadians who take a 5-year fixed rate break it within the third year
  • Not getting a mortgage pre-approval before you buy is a big mistake
  • The argument for buying more house than less
  • The impact of condo fees on your mortgage affordability
  • Should your extra cash go towards debt or down payment?
  • Do your research before signing for any government program
  • Understanding mortgage closing costs

Read transcript

Have you wondered whether it’s better to go with a fixed or variable mortgage rate? And where should you go to get a mortgage? Through your bank or through a broker? These are the questions thousands of Canadian homebuyers are asking every day. My guest this week is a mortgage lending expert who can answer many of these questions. Jacob Perez is an Ontario based real estate investor and mortgage agent. Jacob started investing as a 23-year-old. Since then, he’s built a portfolio that’s worth more than $10 million. As a mortgage agent, he helps his clients build wealth by reverse engineering the boring system to help people scale from one to 10 properties. He is in the top 25 percent of mortgage agents in Canada by production in only his first four years and owns the brokerage, Synergy Mortgage Group. 


Welcome to the Maple Money Show, the podcast that helps Canadians improve their personal finances to create lasting financial freedom. This episode of the Maple Money Show is brought to you by Willful. Did you know that 57 percent of Canadian adults don’t have a will? Willful has made it more affordable, convenient, and easy for Canadians to create a legal will and power of attorney documents online from the comfort of home. In less than 20 minutes, and for a fraction of the price of visiting a lawyer, you can gain peace of mind knowing you put a plan in place to protect your children, pets and loved ones in the event of an emergency. Get started for free at and use the promo code Maple Money to save 15 percent. Now, let’s chat with Jacob…


Tom: Hi, Jacob. Welcome to the Maple Money Show. 


Jacob: Hey, thanks for having me. 


Tom: Something we’ve been covering a little bit recently is mortgages. There is always lots of news about them. Are the rates going to go up? Did they go up? It seems like that’s the constant news around mortgages. I feel like I’ve made a lot of mistakes on this myself where I haven’t necessarily always made the right choice. I’ve done things like get into a fixed mortgage then needed to leave that place. In my case, with my fixed mortgage, I broke it, but I did it because the rates had changed so much. This was 2009. I had my previous mortgage that was fixed and I was moving. The rates had changed so much that even though there was a huge penalty, the math worked out in my case. But I saw what the penalty was and it can be quite a bit. I just kind of wanted to walk through with you (for anyone looking for mortgages) to see what they can do to avoid some of these common things. First of all, one of the things I wanted to ask you about was mortgage rates. It always seems to be what’s in the news, but is that really always the most important thing? 


Jacob: I’d say, definitely not. Obviously, mortgage rates get a lot of attention because it’s essentially the only part of a mortgage product that is common knowledge. If you talk to the people about prepayment options, some people may not know what that means. If you talk to people about penalty costs, people might not know what the penalty cost is. What’s a situation where that may come up? There’s been kind of conventional wisdom in Canada that fixed is safe, variable is risky. That’s kind of how we view things. Fixed is fixed, so it doesn’t change. It doesn’t alter, it doesn’t move. Variable has the potential to fluctuate so people often view that as risky. A lot of people have been conditioned that way by the banks because they’re often advertising fixed rates which, historically, have been the most profitable products for them. But when it comes to getting a mortgage, there’s a lot of things that make up much larger financial impacts than these interest rates. For example, the penalty costs associated with their mortgage type can equal a huge difference. If you have a mortgage of $700,000 and after three years, you split up with your partner, want to upgrade to a larger home or your home has gone up in value and you want to access some equity and adjust the terms of your mortgage—there going to be a penalty cost associated with breaking your mortgage. When it comes to a five year fixed mortgage at a major bank, which is a very common product that’s sold to people, what you’ll find is that the penalty usually approximates to about four to four and a half percent of the balance of the mortgage. Let’s say you’re in a five year fixed rate and your original mortgage size was $700,000. You pay this thing down to $620,000. Now you have one of those very conceivable life changes coming up that I mentioned earlier. The penalty to break that mortgage of about $620,000 could be as high as $27,000. If you take a huge $27,000 penalty and compare it… Let’s say, a variable rate mortgage where the same penalty would cost about $3,100. What’s the likelihood that $24,000 penalty difference is going to be realized? It’s actually very high. If you look at the statistics in Canada, it’s six out of 10 Canadians who take a five year fixed, that break it by the third year. If I asked every single person who just walked out of the lawyer’s office right next door to me who got a five year fixed and said, “Hey, do you think you’ll break that mortgage in next five years?” They would say, “No, no, we don’t see ourselves making any changes.” But what a lot of people don’t know is that mortgages are financial tools. People associate the idea of getting a mortgage with paying it off. That’s a really, really poor mindset. That’s a huge mindset that’s missing a lot of opportunity costs. If you have the ability to borrow a lot of money at low interest rate, as long as you can service the debt by making the payments, you’re better off paying that down and actually investing your additional money in an investment that yields you eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 percent return. A lot of people think about getting get rid of their mortgage, whereas the people who are a little bit more financially literate, actually want to borrow as much as possible to invest in other things that have higher yields. 


Tom: I agree. On the face of it, it’s simple math. It just depends on your own personality, right? Some people just don’t want that debt and if it makes you feel better, that’s great. But on strict math, if you look at current mortgage rates compared to what you could get from even conservatively investing, then it makes sense to not be in a rush to pay off that relatively cheap debt. I should mention, too, I made my mistake with my fixed mortgage. I’ve gone variable since then. But I did just get a new mortgage and went fixed this time just because it was so low. I’ve been expecting rates to go up for years. Everybody does but that never happens. It wasn’t just about the fixed rate. I’m in a mortgage that I’m happy with. It’s not a real plug, but just the Scotia STEP gives me a lot of freedom where I can reborrow that money to invest. And there are the prepayment options, but then you increase your line-of-credit with them. I’m quite happy with the mortgage and the rates were just so low month or two ago that I figured I’d try fixed this time. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that. I guess it’s a crystal ball thing. We’ll see five years from now how it worked out. 


Jacob: But yeah, I think it’s really about the flexibility. That product you mentioned specifically, it’s a great product. I have five mortgages on Scotia Steps right now. I use it a lot myself as well. And it does have flexibility because if you want to tap into equity, you don’t need to break your mortgage in order to do so. Some products might fit the bill a little bit that way. The interesting thing about variable rates is that because the penalties are so low, if there’s a less expensive or a bigger discounted variable rate that comes up, the math often makes a lot of sense to break your mortgage, take the small penalty and move it to an even lower variable. You get flexibility both ways. One thing you just want to watch out for, if you’re going into a mortgage specialist or a mortgage broker and you’re saying, “I want the lowest fixed rate,” and you’re not taking the consolidating and things like that, what some people do is put them in these mortgage products where the interest rate is about .05 less than your traditional product at those institutions. Usually, banks of different types of products or fixed rates, and they’re putting you in the lowest rate available to win the business of the client. But sometimes those lower rate mortgages have what’s called a bona fide sales clause in them. So what a bona fide sales clause means is that you can’t break your mortgage even to refinance, to access equity—you can’t do anything unless you’re selling the property. The only way to break that mortgage is to sell the property. We had a client recently where they bought a new primary residence. They were going to convert their existing home into a rental property, and they needed to refinance to access the equity to use for a down payment on the new property. When it came to the lawyer’s office to get their money on the closing of the refinance, the lawyer said, “Whoa, whoa, there’s this clause in your agreement where you actually can’t refinance the mortgage.” So now they’re in a bind. They had to cash out all their investments just to be able to close on this primary residence. And they were never told that clause when they got the product, which they should have been told, but they probably in a way brought that problem on themselves by hammering down on the interest rate with whoever they were talking with. You’ve got to make sure you know what’s in the products. Unfortunately, these are 40-page commitments. Even if you read through all of it, it’s not really going to be that digestible for the average person. It’s a lot of bank lingo where it doesn’t clearly state numbers on a lot of things. You just want to make sure you’re avoiding any products where you have a bona fide sales clause. Definitely, ask your mortgage broker about that because that could be one part of the fixed rate products where you really have no time to return unless you want to sell your house. 


Tom: Well, I’ve been using a good mortgage broker. That’s one of the things I like. They’re obviously on your side as opposed to if you were to just walk into the bank and say you need a mortgage, which I believe I did the first time. It is a good point to have a broker to find you that right product because even if you go in thinking nothing but interest rate, maybe there’s bad brokers out there. I don’t know—I’ve been happy with the ones I’ve worked with. But they’ll know the products well enough to say, “This one may be a little too constraining.” 


Jacob: I think, at the end of the day, we just have to be real. It’s an industry where there’s a low barrier to entry. It’s a one test to get your mortgage license, so it doesn’t take much to get licensed. As a result, you’re going to get a huge variation in the quality of people that you’re working with. Some will be very educated on the products, some will be brand new but think they’re very educated on the products. And then when it comes to dealing with people directly in a branch of the bank, banks are very transitory. People are moving roles all the time there. They’re an FSR and move to a financial adviser. They try being a mortgage specialist for a couple of months. Banks have a lot of movement within the company. And generally, the really good mortgage people at the banks eventually move over to the broker channel because they think, “Why would I for my clients one option when I can offer them 50 options?” Typically, if you are dealing with somebody good at the bank, you only have a fixed timeline where you can work with them because they generally will exit towards the broker channel. 


Tom: Yeah, that’s interesting. I never thought of that. If they’re actually good at what they’re doing, they’ll probably do it somewhere where they have more ability to actually do what they want to do. They want to help people out. 


Jacob: Mm-Hmm. 


Tom: Speaking of brokers, I think another mistake people might make is not getting a pre-approval. Do you see that often? Do people come to you and say they’ve just made an offer on a house and now they need a mortgage? 


Jacob: Definitely. There’s kind of two schools of people that fall into this category. One, are the people where maybe they were just a little bit misled. They had a phone call conversation with someone who said, “Yeah, based on the $80,000 income you told me, you qualify for $500.000.” Or based on the mortgage calculator on the website they qualify for over $500,000. They’re led to believe that that is firm—that it’s strong. But if you’re doing a pre-approval, you’ve got to make sure if nobody actually checked your documentation, they never verified the letter from your company, your T4, the pay stub—there’s a difference between what you make in real life and what a bank will use as your income in a mortgage application. If there wasn’t a document verification process, just understand there is probably more due diligence you have to do before putting in an offer, especially because the property you’re buying itself plays into what you qualify for. You might qualify for a loan of $800,000 and you’re buying a property at $400,000 but if that property is so distressed, it might be a situation where the bank won’t finance that property at all. Or maybe there’s some kind of interesting zoning that doesn’t align with the banks guidelines and policies. That’s one version. The other version people often fall into is, “I’ve had a mortgage for 20 years and I’ve always paid it so why won’t the bank give me another one,” and that’s a tricky one to because there’s logic there. I even deal with it with some new investors. They’ll say, “What if I buy another rental property, are you telling me that I’m not stronger to the bank? I’m making cash flow and showing I can pay all these mortgages.” Banks guidelines are always changing. Every six months we see some kind of change in the guidelines. Sometimes it gets easier, sometimes it gets harder. It’s a little bit all over the place, but I think not getting pre-approved is definitely something you want to avoid, especially today with so much regulation, so much compliance. 


Tom: The idea of shopping around for a house does Segway nicely to another thing I was thinking of, which is buying either too much or too little of a house. When I got my first house, they offered me a lot more than I knew I could afford. They’re said, “You can spend this much on a house…” I wasn’t even into personal finance that much at the time, and I still knew that didn’t make sense. And now with stress tests, I think they’re probably avoiding that a bit. Back in the in the early 2000s, I definitely could have bought more house than I could afford. But the other side of it, when I was thinking too little is, we had to move from a townhouse to an actual detached house to a bigger house. We often hear in personal finance, don’t buy too much house. But I’ve kind of seen the case for also don’t buy too little, depending how your family changes. 


Jacob: Yeah. I’m generally on the side of buying more house than less house. It depends on your situation, right? Everyone’s going to be a little bit different. One thing that sometimes is a little bit hard to wrap your head around is sometimes a $700,000 house can be a lot cheaper than a $500,000 house. What I mean by that is if going up $200,000 in purchase price allows you to have a base rate unit that you can rent for $1,500, or $1,600, you’re actually going to be in a better cash flow position than buying, a $500,000 townhouse or smaller property that doesn’t accommodate the potential for a secondary unit. And the beauty of that bigger house is, once your family grows or your income rises, you could then no longer have a tenant in your basement and have more house. You have an investment that you’re paying down. You’re having someone to help. You can manage your cash flow system just a little bit better. I recommend first time buyers to always try to go towards that house hacking route. Live in one unit, rent out the other because it’s going to make things more affordable for you monthly, even if you went higher in price. Or, when you want to transition to your next house, you have a strong cash flowing property you can hang onto that you can use towards retirement or things like that. 


Tom: You mentioned the idea of going from a townhouse to a house. People also need to consider the condo fees. When I was in the townhouse, I think it was a around $100 or something like that. It was really cheap. They didn’t do much for it. But now I see condo fees here in Alberta at $300 a month or more. If you do the math and you consider that as if it were the mortgage payment, I think it was something like $50,000 more in house that you could have for the same monthly payment. That’s here in Alberta. Maybe it’s crazy out there in Ontario, but it’s worth keeping that in mind because if you’re thinking you can only afford a place that’s $250,000 and there are condo fees, may you could actually get into a house for $300,000 or $350,000. Do you walk through that with people too? 


Jacob: One hundred percent. What we do with all our clients is budgeting sheets, where we say, “Okay, here’s what your mortgage payment projects to be. Here’s what your monthly bills project to be—condo fees, heat, taxes, hydro,” all these different items. And that’s usually a big eye-opener for people. For example, the exact numbers is, $370 per month is about $100,000 in mortgage right now. So if you have a condo fee of $370 per month, would you rather get a property worth $100,000 more (in this case)? How would that fit you long-term? We generally know that properties without fees typically appreciate a bit better than the properties with fees because those fees typically just keep going up whereas the land value keeps getting higher. It’s a little bit of opposite there. You actually want to pay attention. Those kind of fees are also going to affect how much you qualify for. You might qualify for a purchase price of $525,00 on one condo, $575,000 on a different condo and $500,000 on a third condo because of the fees. Do the fees include heat? Are they accounting for that within it? All that kind of stuff plays a bit of a factor in the mortgage. 


Tom: I’m glad you did the whole budget thing because that’s kind of what I did even on my first one when I wasn’t into money as much back then. Just to actually look at it. We don’t just care about the rates and everything. Maybe this is your first mortgage. If you’re paying so much for rent now and you’re going to mortgage, you’ll probably actually pay less because people are making a profit on their rentals. You can look at it and see what you can afford. But you don’t want to go so big that you’ve actually kind of tightened up your monthly cash flow. You need to make sure you’re comfortable with that for potentially 25 years if you stay in that same house. 


Jacob: And I think it all ties back to this obsession, which again, it’s not wrong. It’s smart and conservative, but it’s a bit of an obsession to pay down our houses. I see a lot of people who say, “ I want to put 20 percent down or as large of a down payment down as possible.” For a lot of people, maybe if you reduced your down payment by $20,000 but took that $20,000 and allocated towards paying off your car loan, now all of a sudden, you’ve just removed a $700 per month car payment and that $20,000 reduction in your down payment really only affected your mortgage by maybe only $78 a month. You’re in a much stronger cash flow position. That’s some of the stuff we recommend as well to a lot of people. Should we position your cash towards debt as opposed towards a down payment where you’ll see a minimal impact from? 


Tom: I am a big fan of the 20 percent down just because I can’t stand the idea of paying the CMHC fees. But again, you’re looking at it from straight math. If they have a car payment that could be quite a high percentage, then yes, they should look at paying that off as opposed to potentially paying those fees if they’re less than 20 percent. Again, though, I guess that person needs to take a good look at themselves and just make sure that paying the car off mean you’re going to decide it’s time for a new car? And now you’ve also paid those CMHC fees. It depends. I get the pure math of it. I’m just concerned about some peoples’ spending. 


Jacob: There is always a point to be made for 20 percent down. Not only do you avoid those CMHC fees, but you now are allowed to amortize the mortgage over 30 years as opposed to 20 years. That generally has a pretty large lift and what you qualify for. The other thing too, is when you put 20 percent down, the banks are a lot more flexible with ratios and what they’ll qualify you for. So when you’re doing an insured mortgage, what it means is that the bank has to approve you but this government backed insurer also has to approve you. When you’re doing an insured type loan, if you’re .01 percent above the allowed ratios to qualify, it’s an automatic decline. Whereas when you put 20 percent down, it’s not insured. And if you’re slightly above the ratios, it’s basically okay with most banks. You get flexibility on purchase rates quite a bit, and that’s usually the challenge most people are running into—they don’t qualify as high as they want to qualify. These conversations we’re having, most people aren’t even in this position. They’re trying to get to a baseline where they can get something in their city—at least in Ontario where we are because the prices are pretty crazy, for sure. 


Tom: I’ve said before in the show, they’re crazy enough here that I’m glad I got in when I got in. That was just dumb luck and timing. I think it would be a lot harder to be someone just getting their first mortgage. I agree. If you’re anywhere near Toronto, the prices get pretty wild. But even here, they’ve certainly increased a lot more than the rate of people’s raises. It’s definitely getting less affordable. The good news is, one thing people need to look out for is all these different government programs, especially if you’re a new homebuyer. I assume you point those out to people and see what they what they qualify for? 


Jacob: I think you’ve got to take everything the government says with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to be political. Every party—you’ve just got to take them all with a grain of salt. Let’s say you’re in the automotive industry. You’re in the oil industry. I’m in the mortgage lending industry. You’re in finance industry. Generally, if you look at the way the media and the government cover your industry, you say, “That’s wrong! What they’re saying is way wrong,” and we could probably apply that to every single industry. We’ll see them (the government) talking about something we don’t know that well and say, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe this is going on!” It’s probably wrong over there as well. When it comes to the government programs, the ones I think came out the last elections cycle was, first time home buyer down payment assistance program. They came up with this program where if you’re buying a house, a resale property and you put five percent down, they would match your five percent down in order to lessen (alleviate) your mortgage payment. But then in return, they took five percent of the equity when you sold the property. We do about 800 mortgages per year between me and my to business partners. I don’t think we had a single person opt in to one of these programs and for good reason. There are a couple of things that are really wrong with it. One is that, if your property goes up in value, who’s to say it’s not from the money you put into renovate it, the sweat equity you put in to actually increase the value of the property? The other thing was, for some reason they set up this program where there was a borrowing limit. You actually qualified for a lower purchase price if you were utilizing this program as opposed to if you weren’t utilizing the program. There are a lot of people who needed assistance. All I was doing was taking them in a lower price bracket for the budgeting and an additional five percent again through down payment. You’re not really saving that much on the mortgage payment monthly. A lot of these government programs—I think it really just comes down to looking into them. You might be one of these niche people where it does work for you. But a lot of times you’ve just got to make sure you know what you’re getting into. And generally, again, it comes down to working with the right professionals who can guide you through that so that every single thing you do in life isn’t a big research project. You can find some people you trust who can kind of educate you on it. 


Tom: That is an interesting program (where the government is investing in real estate now). I do like the homebuyers plan. Again though, it’s kind of a crystal ball thing. If you’re pulling money out of your investments, it depends where the market goes over time and where interest rates go at the same time. It’s just another thing I had dumb luck with. I pulled money out before a drop. I was okay with that. I got to put the money back in. It’s at least a good way to save for a down payment. But again, it’s something you’ve got to look back at a few years later— If you lost so much on the potential of those investments, maybe it negated any benefit? 


Jacob: Yeah, that’s the top thing. I think generally, if you’re a first time buyer, you’re putting everything you have towards the down payment. That’s often the case with most people, unless there’s a large amount from gifted funds or things like that. But like you mentioned, that RRSP program is pretty good. You get to get the tax efficiencies, then you get to withdraw it later. I think it’s just really comes down to is a lot of people who are first time buyers are generally a little bit younger. They’re not that comfortable with investing yet. And as a result, putting money in RRSP they sometimes say, “Well, I don’t want to invest this money. I want to save for a down payment. I’m afraid to lose it.” That just really comes down to lack of financial education in our schooling system. If there were a little bit of education, they would probably know that there are a lot of stable things you could put this money into and get a good return.  


Tom: Yeah, exactly. You can get that tax refund, invest that too and just kind of pile it up a little bit. But you do have to pay it back. And, for one, you’ve got to be actually investing in RRSP and you’ve got to claim it as part of that each year to make sure you pay back or else they’ll count it as income. Another risk to potentially watch out for is that someone either didn’t put any money into the RRSP that year at all to even have the option to claim it, or they just forgot to fill out that line for the home buyers plan. It’s going to get assessed as income—the 1/14th of what you took out. It’s something to keep in mind because 10 years down the road, you’re probably making more and you’re going to get that income assessed at a higher rate than what you originally had when you put that money in the RRSP in the first place. 


Jacob: Yep, true. 


Tom: The last thing I wanted to cover is closing costs. It’s that extra, final expense you’re paying. Like you said, people will throw everything they can at their down payment but those closing costs can be kind of substantial. Nothing crazy. But by the time you go through all these different things, like a home inspection and all the things the lawyer will take care of for you on multiple lines of expenses, I think that’s probably something people should watch out for. 


Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. That’s something we break down in our budgeting overview with every single client. I do want to say, if you’re a first time buyer or somebody who’s recently purchased a property and you haven’t closed on it yet, one needs to be aware that you’re going to be a little bit confused looking at these disbursement sheets from the lawyers on closing day. There’s a lot of different costs, the ins, and outs and such on these lawyer sheets. It’s not that straightforward. Just be aware that there’s going to be some additional things. I’ll give you an example that probably nobody would think of but could be a semi-large cost on closing. If you’re buying a house from someone who has prepaid their property taxes to the city by the tune of $2,000 or something like that? Well, that money is with the city. And now you have to pay them back for what they preemptively prepaid. So you might have an additional $2,000 (added to the closing cost). You’re going to get that back later by avoiding a property tax payment to the city or municipality but that could be something that can show up on closing day that nobody can predict. Another thing is… The big one in Ontario, at least is the land transfer tax. In Ontario, when you buy a property, there is a land transfer tax. If you buy a property in Toronto, there is two land transfer taxes and they can be very costly. Just for some context for first time buyers, you do get a $4,000 credit towards land transfer tax if you’re a first time buyer. Let’s say you’re buying in Toronto and you’re buying a condo around $700,000. It’s a little over $12,000 after rebates are applied. If you’re not a first time buyer… Let’s say you cosign for your parents because they needed financial assistance or you bought a property in another country, that’s even the rule in Canada. If you’re not a first time buyer and you’re buying a condo in Toronto, it’s over $20,000 in  land transfer taxes on a $700,000 condo purchase. There certainly are large costs expected on closing. Your lawyers will have a fee. That’s one thing. If you go around to a bunch different lawyers to see what their fees are, some will say $800, $900 but this is just the base level fee. There’s a whole host of dispersions, title insurance, and what have you so you’ll see closing cost numbers go a lot higher. 


Tom: Having not paid it here, I am saying the closing costs are not that bad. But look out for them because it might be $2,000 or $3,000 by the time you pay your lawyer and get an inspection done. And yeah, the title insurance and all that— it’s literally just $2,000 or $3,000. Even at that, it still is something if you pretty much just went all-in on your down payment. It’s still a lot to come up with. But a land transfer tax—wow, I’m glad we don’t have to deal with that here. 


Jacob: Well, just in context, if you’re buying at $1.5 million, which is not a luxury house by any stretch (in Toronto). End even where I live in Hamilton, which is 45 minutes outside of Toronto, it’s not really an amazing house. It’s a good house, not an amazing house and it’s $52,000 on the land transfer tax. When you see how much money the government makes off of real estate between the property taxes, the land transfer, the capital gains on the sale of rental properties, the taxation of the rental income on rental properties, they want to keep this thing chugging. That’s what my thoughts are because it’s just such a huge profit center for the government, especially in Ontario. 


Tom: Yeah, to take that land transfer tax on top of the crazy prices, if someone doesn’t need to be in the Toronto area, come out here to Alberta. 


Jacob: Yeah, exactly. 


Tom: Here, a good average house would be about $450,000. These $1 million plus prices, obviously, I’ve heard about them. They’re in the press and everything. But yeah, the land transfer tax has made me even more sure I’m happy where I am. 


Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. 


Tom: Well, thanks for running through all these. I think if someone, especially they’re looking for their first mortgage, but even future mortgages, you might find mistakes that you hadn’t made previously, so it’s good to walk through all of these. Can you let people know where they can find you online and what you do? 


Jacob: You can find me on Instagram. It’s the best place to find me @jacobperez10. I’m a mortgage agent. I do specialize with investors all over Canada. We have a lot of clients buying in this Edmonton market, these really busy kind of popular markets happening in Alberta, but I mainly work out of Ontario. So definitely, hit me up if you want to learn how to scale your portfolio from one to 10 properties on even a modest income. We have a lot of clients who make $60,000 to $70,000 per year that we’ve helped get eight or nine houses. So, there’s ways to do it. You just have to understand how the metrics work. We can teach you how to kind of target properties that are going to allow you to continue to buy. Otherwise, look forward to interacting with whoever reaches out and we’ll go from there. But thanks for having me on the show today. 


Thank you, Jacob, for answering the questions that so many Canadian homebuyers are asking. You made a complex topic a lot easier to understand. You can find the show notes for this episode at Thanks, as always, for listening. I really appreciate the community we’re building both on the Facebook group and the personal messages and reviews I receive. I look forward to seeing you back here next week.

A lot of people have been conditioned (to choose fixed mortgage rates) by the banks, because often they’re advertising the fixed rates which historically, have been the most profitable products for them. - Jacob Perez Click to Tweet