Why time is important when buying a home in Canada

Dundarave beach in West Vancouver I can remember all too well how stressful it was when we were moving house in England. I am sure I don’t need to say too much about this for anyone in England. The fact that your buyers can walk away at anytime, change their offer or squeeze you for a bigger reduction after the house survey shows something needs fixing. And this can go on for months until you think the chain is in place. Time simply stretches on and on. No one can be sure when it is all going to work out.

Here it is quite different and the stress is all packed into a few days – not weeks and months. Once you have found a home to buy, your offer is written up on a contract. Yes, it is a legal document! And when the seller signs it she has to sell to you, and move out on the day written into the contract.

In Canada time is of the essence, and there are a few days when it is really important to be on time. So when is time important?

Offer time

Firstly any offer that you write (or receive) is only open for a few hours. Often when we present an offer it is open until later that same evening or noon the next day. The seller has until then to agree – or not. If the seller counters the offer – by changing the price for example – then the buyer will have to respond within the time given. When the market is busy, as it is now, missing the deadline to respond can give another buyer the chance to jump in with their offer, so it is important to be available to make a quick decision.

Subject removal

Once an offer has been accepted there is a period for the buyer to get their financing, do their home inspection and all the other checks they want to do. This period is written into the contract and is usually about 5 working days. At the end of that time the buyer has to decide whether or not they want to buy the home. If they do, then they must say so in writing – and in time. If you were to miss the deadline for this “subject removal”, the seller could look at other offers. And in our busy market now this is exactly what would happen.

Paying your deposit

There is usually a deposit due after the subjects have been removed. This is written into the contract too. It is usual practice in our market for the deposit to be paid within 24 hours of subject removal. Make sure you have the money available – by bankers draft or wire – and on time. Not doing so means you are in breach of contract.


The next and the most important deadline is the day of completion. This is when the lawyers exchange contracts, the buyer produces the money and the bank stumps up the mortgage. If all goes to plan the buyer’s name goes on title on this day. If not, the buyer will be liable to be sued by the seller.


The last day to note is the day that the buyer gets the keys to the home. This date is usually a couple of days after completion. This is to allow time for the Land Title Office to register the buyer’s name on title. This is the exciting day for the buyer – getting into their new home.

Knowing what needs doing and when will make your move go smoothly. We are very used to helping people through this process and have never had anyone miss out by being late!

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