Jean Richer & Irene Bilinski
Bilingual Sales Representatives

Are you Financially Ready to Buy an Ottawa Home

Are you Financially Ready to Buy an Ottawa Home?

So, you've decided that homeownership is right for you. Now you need to determine if you are financially ready to buy a house. In this Step, you will find a number of simple calculations that you can do to evaluate your current financial situation, how much house you can afford and the maximum home price that you should be considering.

Once you understand these variables, you can make the best choice for you and even save money.

Test Yourself

To avoid any future surprises, you can do some financial exercises to see where you stand. They include: calculating your net worth, your current monthly expenses and your current monthly debt payments.

Knowing your net worth is important because you will need this information when you discuss a mortgage with your lender. Your net worth is the amount left over once you've subtracted your total liabilities from your total assets. It will also give you a snapshot of your current financial situation and show you how much you can afford to put as a down payment.

How Much Can You Afford?

Now that you have a clear picture of your current financial situation, it's time to find out what you can afford in monthly housing costs. Lenders follow two simple affordability rules to determine how much you can pay.

The first affordability rule is that your monthly housing costs shouldn't be more than 32% of your gross household monthly income. Housing costs include monthly mortgage principal and interest, taxes and heating expenses — known as P.I.T.H. for short. If applicable, this sum also includes half of monthly condominium fees and the entire annual site lease (in the case of leasehold tenure).

Lenders add up these housing costs to determine what percentage they are of your gross monthly income. This figure is known as your Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio. Remember, it must be 32% or less.

The second affordability rule is that your entire monthly debt load shouldn't be more than 40% of your gross monthly income. This includes housing costs and other debts, such as car loans and credit card payments. Lenders add up these debts to determine what percentage they are of your gross household monthly income. This figure is your Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio.

Your Maximum Home Price

The maximum home price that you can afford depends on a number of factors but the most important are your gross household income, your down payment and the mortgage interest rate.

This table gives you an idea of the maximum home price you can afford.

Income, Home Price and Down Payment Guide

Household Income

5% Down Payment

Maximum Home Price

10% Down Payment

Maximum Home Price

25% Down Payment

Maximum Home Price














































































Figures are rounded to the nearest $100.

This table assumes a mortgage interest rate of 8%, average tax and heating costs in Canada, and the mortgage an average Canadian would qualify for based on a 32% debt service ratio.

For most people the hardest part of buying a home — especially the first one — is saving the necessary down payment. Many people will not have the traditional 25% of the purchase price to put down. With mortgage loan insurance, you can put as little as 5% down. Mortgage loan insurance protects the lender and, by law, most Canadian lending institutions require it. The way it works is if the borrower defaults (fails to pay) on the mortgage, the lender is paid back by the insurer. The cost for this type of insurance is in the form of a premium and can be paid in a single lump sum or it can be added to your mortgage and included in your monthly payments.

CMHC is a major provider of this type of insurance in Canada and its current loan premiums are as follows:

Financing Required

Premium % of Loan Amount

Up to and including 65%


Up to and including 75%


Up to and including 80%


Up to and including 85%


Up to and including 90%


Between 90.01 and 95%
     Traditional Down Payment 2.75
     Flex Down


Secured Line of Credit Surcharge
     Non-amortized repayment option:
     5 years
     10 years


*Premiums in Ontario and Quebec are subject to provincial sales tax — the sales tax cannot be added to the loan amount.

Ottawa Home Buyers Guide

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