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How Long Does it Take to Buy a Home in Canada?

How Long Does it Take to Buy a Home in Canada?

Published by Programme B

Securing a property in Canada comes with its own timeline. While some might find the keys to their dream home quickly, others could face longer waits. The variances can largely be attributed to regional differences, type of property, and prevailing market conditions.

Average Duration of House-Hunting in Canada

On average, prospective homebuyers in Canada can expect to spend three to six months searching for the ideal property. This phase may be shorter if you are purchasing with cash, allowing for a closing time as little as two months. Your timeline will be influenced by several factors, including the type of property you’re after (pre-construction or resale), your financial situation, and market conditions. It’s important to note that market conditions can be a significant factor; for example, if you’re browsing for Ottawa homes for sale in a seller’s market, you may be able to close the deal faster than if you’re shopping in a buyer’s market.

Steps Involved and Their Respective Timelines

Preparing for the Down Payment

Before initiating the search for a home, accumulating the down payment is a preliminary step that requires substantial time. For a down payment, you should aim to save between 5% and 20% of the home’s purchase price. While the period for accumulating this sum may range from six months to two years, financial stability plays a critical role in determining this duration. Potential homebuyers often opt for disciplined savings and investment plans to meet their down payment goals.

Mortgage Pre-Approval

Securing a mortgage pre-approval constitutes the next vital phase. This process might require a time frame ranging from one to ten days. Financial institutions, including banks and mortgage brokers, assess your financial history, credit score, and other factors to decide the mortgage amount you can afford. Quick and accurate documentation can accelerate this phase. A pre-approval letter not only instills confidence in sellers but also streamlines the subsequent steps in the home-buying process.

Finding a Realtor

Selecting a qualified realtor typically takes between one to two weeks. A good realtor can provide a comparative market analysis, arrange viewings, and negotiate terms on your behalf. Recommendations from trusted friends and family or detailed online reviews can aid in choosing a realtor who suits your needs. Engaging with multiple candidates through interviews can be an effective way to judge their capabilities.

Home Visits

This stage may take one week to three months, influenced by market conditions and individual preferences. Viewing multiple properties allows you to compare and contrast, helping you narrow down your choices. Some markets have limited inventory, which can elongate this stage. Documenting the pros and cons of each visit can be a beneficial practice to facilitate decision-making.

Making the Offer

Once a suitable property has been identified, the next step involves making an offer, a process that usually spans 24 to 72 hours. Offers often have a stipulated expiry period, and time-sensitive action is generally required at this stage. The seller may accept, reject, or counter the offer, and negotiations can extend this duration. Effective communication between your realtor and the seller’s agent is essential to expedite this process.

Final Steps

Post acceptance of the offer, closing activities commence and can take approximately 30 to 45 days. These activities include property inspections, final mortgage approval, legal paperwork, and eventual possession. It’s essential to have all financial arrangements in place to avoid delays. Missed deadlines can incur penalties and even risk the annulment of the deal.

Tips to Expedite the Homebuying Process

Obtain Mortgage Pre-Approval

When it comes to obtaining mortgage pre-approval, the objective is to get an accurate understanding of how much you can afford. Financial institutions assess multiple factors such as income, debt levels, and credit history to determine your mortgage limit. To start the pre-approval process, gather necessary documents like proof of income, tax returns, and credit history reports. Submit these documents to your selected lender. Normally, this process could take anywhere from one day to a week. Bear in mind that mortgage pre-approval typically lasts for 60 to 90 days. So, it’s strategic to time your pre-approval close to when you’re serious about making an offer on a home.

Complete Payments Promptly

To maintain or improve your financial standing, completing payments on time is essential, especially when you’re in the process of buying a home. Any missed or late payments on loans, credit cards, or other obligations could be detrimental to your mortgage application. Utilize reminders or automatic payment systems to ensure that you never miss a due date. While mortgage underwriters look at your history of payments, having a clean slate for at least a year before applying can be beneficial. It’s also wise to avoid making any large purchases that could impact your debt-to-income ratio.

Cash Purchases

Purchasing a property with cash eliminates the need for a mortgage, simplifying and speeding up the buying process. You avoid mortgage application times, pre-approval, and underwriting processes, thereby reducing the time from offer acceptance to closing to as little as seven days. However, this method requires significant liquidity and could tie up a large portion of your assets in the property. When considering a cash purchase, consult with financial advisors to evaluate if this option aligns well with your overall financial strategy and long-term investment plans.

Improve Your Credit Score

A higher credit score often translates to better mortgage rates. Therefore, improving your credit score becomes a key task in the run-up to buying a home. Obtain your credit report to identify any mistakes or unpaid accounts that could be hurting your score. If you have credit card debt, aim to reduce the balances, but avoid closing any cards as this could negatively affect your credit history. Furthermore, refrain from opening new credit accounts or taking on additional debts, as lenders may interpret this as a sign of financial instability. Regularly monitor your credit report for any unauthorized activities that could adversely affect your score. Improving your credit score is often a slow process and should be started at least six to twelve months before applying for a mortgage.


The complexities of time in the Canadian housing market reveal themselves in diverse ways. From unforeseen legal hurdles to favorable market conditions, many elements can alter the timeline.

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