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Buy Homes in Canada

Where to find real estate listings for properties in Canada

Trying to find real estate listings on line when you want to find out how to buy homes in Canada can be frustrating. I know, as I was looking for properties online when I wanted to buy a new home in Mississauga, Ontario.

When you search online for 'buy homes canada' or 'buy homes ontario', it seems you get many results for independent realty sites or directories listing only their own properties.

MLS? What's That? MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, and all properties listed for sale with the mainstream realty companies in Canada appear on the site, operated by The Canadian Real Estate Association, based in Ottawa, Ontario. is now, and I initially found the new site not as easy to use as before, in my opinion, but it does give comprehensive listings of properties for sale in Canada. With each listing, you will see a picture of the outside of the house, and in most cases. photos of the interior rooms and perhaps the back yard.

View Properties Online: A recent search on that site was much more accurate with results, and much faster to use. I knew the street where I wanted to view properties (Shawnmarr Road) and the price range, and the style of home (townhouse). In the search box, I simply typed the street name (Shawnmarr Road, with no other details), and then filled in the price and style. Back came a list of all 7 properties for sale, as confirmed by my realtor.

Likely this is the only road named 'Shawnmarr' in Canada; Search for a more common name and you may need more modifiers, such as the city or area.

These multiple listings will give you a good general idea of the types of properties for sale, and for rent, and the asking prices. And almost every listing includes photos of exterior and interior.

How to buy homes in Canada

Find Homes First: I worked with a realtor to buy my home, but, by looking at properties online, I could give her more specific information about what I was looking for, or ask her to arrange viewings, when she would take me to the house for sale, and walk through it with me.

Know What You Want; Find a Realtor: Once you have some idea of the style, price range and location of homes you would like to look at with a view to buying, I recommend that you do contact a realtor. Find a realtor, if you don't already have one, by getting a recommendation from a friend, or contact the listing agent who is presenting the home for sale. Sellers who list with an MLS agent are bound by that listing agreement, and are unable to sell privately depending on the terms. Buyers, too, may be bound by an agreement.

If you decide to make an offer on a property, the realtor will handle all the contract (Offer to Purchase) details for you, such as price offered, date of possession (when you want to move in), any conditions (arranging financing, home inspection, status certificate for condos, any inclusions such as draperies, appliances, etc) and then contact the seller's agent to present the offer to purchase.

Once The Offer to buy has been presented . . .

Negotiations can take a few hours or a few days. I've had my house sold within 4 hours from initial viewing to final agreement (the buyers were heading for the airport to catch their flight home) while others that took over a week (the sellers were settling an estate, and multiple 'owners' and lawyers had to agree at each stage). Every transaction has its unique details. Be flexible and available.

Once the negotiations have ended . . .

.  . . and a final details of the purchase agreed upon by all parties, the home is said to have been 'sold conditionally'. Your realtor will have taken into account and written into the offer specific dates for these conditions to be met.

Typical conditions to an offer will be details and dates such as five (5) business days to sign off on the financing, and three (3) days to complete the home inspection.

If buying a condo, then typically realtors will allow 10 business days for the condo status certificate to be provided and reviewed by your lawyer, and your lawyer to advise you of any concerns with the condo corporation status.

As each condition is met, your realtor will have you sign a waiver, releasing that condition. Though a home has been deemed 'sold conditionally' once the final offer has been accepted, the deal is not considered done until and unless all conditions have been waived. Only then does the realtor put up the SOLD sign, and the buyer and seller really feel it's a done deal.

How to buy homes in Canada ~ Main Points

  • Research listings on MLS (
  • Work with a realtor to go out and view homes for sale
  • Arrange for a lawyer to represent you
  • Arrange financing or pre-approved mortgage
  • Arrange for a home inspector
  • Have your passport ready for lawyer, bank: New regulations

Buy Homes and Property Privately ~ For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

Property and homes for sale can be bought privately (e.g. 'for sale by owner')  and all viewings, offers and negotiations are handled by the buyer and seller, and advice and agreements done with your lawyers. These properties are not listed on MLS right now but negotiations are underway to make the MLS service more inclusive.

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