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Property transfer process and fees

Here's what you need to know when transferring your property to someone else.

The process of buying and selling property can be confusing, and transferring property comes with its own set of rules and requirements.

If you own real estate and want to transfer it to someone else, you’ll need to change the title on the deed to reflect that. There are two main ways to do this a quitclaim deed and a warranty deed. The one you choose depends on who you’re transferring the property to, why you’re transferring it, and what kind of tenant you are.

What is a quitclaim deed vs a warranty deed?

To sign over property ownership to another person, you’ll use one of two deeds: a quitclaim deed or a warranty deed.

Quitclaim deed

What is it?

A quitclaim deed transfers any ownership interest the grantor (seller) has in the property. It doesn’t make promises about whether the title is acceptable and if anybody else owns the property. In other words, a quitclaim deed communicates, “I’m transferring to you whatever interest I have in this property, but I’m not guaranteeing anything about this claim.”

When do I use it?

When you sign a quitclaim deed, you’re effectively giving up, or quitting, your claim or rights to the property in question. No money or warranties are exchanged, so it offers a pretty low level of buyer protection. Since they’re risky, quitclaim deeds are usually used to transfer property among family members or between spouses after a divorce. They’re also used to clear up title issues, transfer property to a trust and gift property to someone.

As a seller, it safeguards you from being sued by your family member, spouse or future buyer in the event that there’s an issue with the deed or you didn’t have full ownership of the house.

Quitclaim deeds are sometimes mistakenly called “quick claim” deeds for their speed and simplicity. While that’s incorrect, it’s useful when trying to wrap your head around the concept.

Warranty deed

What is it?

A warranty deed comes with legal assurances, as opposed to the quitclaim deed counterpart. It states that you, the seller, have the right to transfer the property and explicitly says that nobody else owns it. It also asserts that there are no debts or liens on the property. In other words, a warranty deed communicates, “I promise that I’m the rightful owner of this property and the title is in good condition.”

When do I use it?

Warranty deeds are typically used for real estate sales or between arms length buyers and sellers. They legally protect buyers from title problems. Unlike quitclaim deeds, someone who signs a warranty deed knows they won’t face unpaid taxes, ownership disputes or creditor liens later down the line.

What is the process for transferring the property to someone else’s name?

To transfer property smoothly and successfully, follow these steps:

  1. Discuss the terms of the deed with the new owners.
    This involves clarifying tenancy between the property owners. Will it be a joint tenancy or a tenancy in common? Most family members prefer to hold property as joint tenants with a right of survivorship. This allows the property to pass to the remaining owners without an expensive probate.
  2. Hire a real estate attorney to prepare the deed.
    While you can technically do this yourself, it can be complicated, especially if you’re preparing a warranty deed. The deed needs to be accurate, so it’s worth investing in an attorney to guide you.
    The deed includes personal details about you and the family member to whom you’re transferring your title. It also has a legal description of the property — you can use the description in the government plats or your original deed, if you have access to it.
  3. Review the deed.
    Read over the deed and double-check that all information is accurate and complete. Be sure that the seller and buyer have entered their full legal names and correct addresses, and pay special attention to the legal description.The form will have blanks for signatures, but don’t sign these yet.
  4. Sign the deed in front of a notary public, with witnesses present.
    The deed must be signed by all sellers in front of a qualified notary public and any other witnesses required by your province’s law. It then needs to be notarized with a signature and seal. The buyer doesn’t have to sign anything.
  5. File the deed on public record.
    To complete the property transfer, take the deed to the local land registry office to be filed. This is called “recording the deed,” and failing to follow through with this step can cause problems later on because no one would know about your relative’s claim to the property. At this point, you may need to pay fees and taxes associated with the deed. By the end of the day, the land registry should have the buyer on file as the new owner.

What kind of paperwork will I need?

When you’re transferring ownership property, you’ll typically need to fill out two forms:

  • A quitclaim deed form. This asks for the value of your home, location of your home and a legal description (property dimensions and boundaries) of the property.
  • Land transfer form (form name varies across provinces). If you’re the owner who’s intending to keep the property, you’ll complete this form.

You can get these forms from your local recorder’s office.

What is the difference between a grantor and a grantee?

The person transferring property ownership is the grantor, or the seller. The person receiving it is the grantee, or buyer.

What is a joint tenant vs. a tenant in common?

They’re both forms of property co-ownership. When two or more people purchase property together, the attorney asks how they will hold title: as joint tenants or tenants in common.

Joint tenants have equal shares of the property with the same deed and at the same time. This type of holding title is common between married couples and family members. It can be broken if one of the tenants transfers (or sells) their interest in the property to another person. At that point, the title is converted to a tenancy in common.

With tenancy in common, the owners may have different ownership interests. For instance, Tenant 1 might own 50% of the home, while Tenant 2 and Tenant 3 each own 25%. Tenancies in common can also be granted at different times. To use the same example, Tenant 3 might obtain interest in the property years after the others signed off on the title. A tenancy in common can be broken if one or more of the co-owners sells their stake or buys out another tenant’s interest in the property, or if the property is sold.

While joint tenants and tenancy in common are similar in that the co-owners have rights and duties to the property, the key difference revolves around what happens when a co-owner dies.

When a joint tenant dies, their interest in the property is automatically — and equally — transferred to the surviving owners — the right of survivorship.

Tenants in common have no rights to survivorship. They don’t inherit any shares after a co-owner’s death. The deceased tenant’s interest in the property passes to their heirs or the people named in their will.

What fees could I potentially pay?

Transferring your rights to a property doesn’t mean you’re off the hook with fees and charges. While they vary between provinces and territories, be prepared to pay the following fees:

  • Property transfer tax. Every province and territory in Canada requires that you pay some sort of property transfer tax or fee at the time of the transfer. The seller typically has to pay a transfer tax on the property, which is imposed by the province. The tax you’re charged depends on your province and city, but it’s usually around 1-2% of the home’s purchase price. However, if the county reassesses the value of your property at the time of transfer, the person taking over ownership may end up paying higher property taxes.
  • Deed preparation fee. This covers the costs of drafting the document that transfers the title from the seller to the buyer. Usually, the seller pays this fee at closing, but it’s not unusual for buyers to pay the attorney directly.
  • Title insurance. Buyers sometimes purchase title insurance – at times, because their mortgage lenders require it. Title insurance protects them from any issues with the home’s ownership history later on. Also, sellers often buy a title policy for the new homeowner. Overall, costs can range from between $100 and between $500.
  • Recording fees. When you file your deed with the county recorder’s office, you’re charged a fee, which can often fall between $65 and $85. This is based on the value or sale price of the property, as well as the number of pages and documents. Typically, the buyer pays this fee upon filing.
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Property transfer tax by province

The only provinces in Canada that don’t charge property transfer tax are Alberta and Saskatchewan. Instead, these provinces charge a small fee when property is transferred. While land transfer taxes often end up costing several thousand dollars, the fees charged in these provinces often run between several hundred and a couple thousand dollars.

Alberta property transfer fees

In Alberta, the fee has two components as follows:

  • Transfer of Land registration fee: $50 plus $2 for every $5,000 of the fair market value of the property (or part thereof).
  • Mortgage registration fee: $50 plus $1.50 for every $5,000 of the principal mortgage amount (or part thereof).

Saskatchewan property transfer fees

In Saskatchewan, you don’t pay property transfer fees, but you do pay a title transfer fee. The amount is calculated as follows:

Purchase price of the propertyTitle transfer fee
$0 to $500$0
$501 to $8,400$25
Over $8,4010.3% of the property value

There is also a $160 fee for the registration of a new mortgage in Saskatchewan.

If you live in another province or territory other than Alberta or Saskatchewan, you can estimate the amount of property transfer tax using the tables below.

Property transfer tax rates

In most provinces and territories, property transfer tax is calculated as a percentage of the property’s value. If you don’t know the value, the asking price is the best figure to use for an estimate. Below is a table of all the rates by province or territory.

Province/territoryPurchase price & marginal tax rate
Ontario*
  • First $55,000 → 0.5%
  • $55,000.01 to $250,000 → 1%
  • $250,000.01 to $400,000 → 1.5%
  • $400,000.01 to $2,000,000 → 2%
  • Over $2,000,000 → 2.5%
Toronto, Ontario**
  • First $55,000 → 0.5%
  • $55,000.01 to $250,000 → 1%
  • $250,000.01 to $400,000 → 1.5%
  • $400,000.01 to $2,000,000 → 2%
  • Over $2,000,000 → 2.5%
British Columbia
  • First $200,000 → 1%
  • $200,001 to $2,000,000 → 2%
  • Over $2,000,000 → 3%
  • Over $3,000,000 → A further 2% for residential properties (5% in total)
Manitoba
  • First $30,000 → no tax
  • $30,001 to $90,000 → 0.5%
  • $90,001 to $150,000 → 1%
  • $150,001 to $200,000 → 1.5%
  • Amounts over $200,000 → 2%
Quebec***
  • First $50,000 → 0.5%
  • $50,001 to $250,000 → 1%
  • Over $250,000 → 1.5%
Montreal, Quebec***
  • First $50,000 → 0.5%
  • $50,001 to $250,000 → 1%
  • $250,001 to $500,000 → 1.5%
  • $500,001 to $999,999 → 2%
  • Over $1,000,000 → 2.5%
New Brunswick
  • 1% of the assessed value of the property
Prince Edward Island
  • 1% of the greater of the property value or purchase price
  • $0 if the property value is less than $30,000
Nova Scotia
  • In Halifax, the rate is 1.5% of the purchase price
  • Each municipality varies between 0.5% and 1.5% of the purchase price
Northwest Territories
  • $1.50 for every $1,000 or part thereof of the property value (minimum charge is $100)
  • $1 for every $1,000 or part thereof of property value (for part of property value greater than $1,000,000)
  • $1 for every $5,000 or part thereof of the mortgage amount (minimum charge is $80)
Newfoundland and Labrador
  • For properties or mortgages under $500, a flat fee of $100 is charged
  • For properties exceeding $500, a flat fee of $100 is charged in addition to $0.40 for every hundred dollars over $500
YukonAssurance fees: Only applies when the purchase price is greater than the value of the property when it was last transferred
  • $20 for first $10,000 of additional declared value
  • $10 for each addition $10,000 of additional declared value

Transfer fees: A flat fee to transfer the title based on the purchase price of the property

  • $100,000 or less → $50
  • $100,000 to $500,000 → $150
  • $500,000 to $3,000,000 → $350
  • $3,000,000 to $10,000,000 → $550
  • Over $10,000,000 → $750

Mortgage fees: A flat fee based on the value of your mortgage

  • $100,000 or less → $50
  • $100,000 to $500,000 → $100
  • $500,000 to $1,000,000 → $200
  • $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 → $400
  • $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 → $600
  • $10,000,000 to $20,000,000 → $800
  • $20,000,000 or more → $1,000

Take advantage of first-time buyer benefits

If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may be able to get a refund on part or all of the land transfer tax you paid, depending on where you live. Oftentimes, this benefit is only available to those who have never purchased a home anywhere in the world, not just in Canada. There may also be a limit on the amount that can be refunded.

Province/Territory/CityEligibilityRefund available
Ontario
  • Buyer is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Buyer is 18 years of age or older
  • Buyer must occupy the home within 9 months of the purchase
  • Buyer cannot have owned a home anywhere else in the world
  • Buyer’s spouse cannot have owned a home while being your spouse
  • The refund covers the fully taxed amount on houses up to $368,000.
  • Houses worth more than $368,000 receive the maximum refund of $4,000
Toronto, Ontario
  • Buyer is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Buyer is 18 years of age or older
  • Buyer must occupy the home within 9 months of the purchase
  • Buyer cannot have owned a home anywhere else in the world
  • Buyer’s spouse cannot have owned a home while being your spouse
  • Maximum of $4,475
British Columbia
  • First-time homebuyer land transfer tax rebate:
  • Buyer is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Buyer lived in BC for 12 consecutive months prior to the date the property is registered OR have filed 2 income tax returns in BC in the 6 years before the property is registered
  • Buyer never owned a principal residence in the world
  • Buyer never received a first-time homebuyer’s benefit before
  • First-time homebuyer land transfer tax rebate:
  • The fair market value of the property is less than $500,000
  • The land is 0.5 hectares or smaller
  • The property will be used as the buyer’s primary residence
  • No information available
Prince Edward IslandFirst-time homebuyers are exempt from paying property transfer tax in PEI if:
  • Property value and purchase prices are below $200,000
  • Individuals are occupying the home as a property resident

Note: if there is more than one buyer, all parties must meet the above criteria to be eligible

  • Pay $0 in property transfer tax
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Bottom line

Your property is an asset, and transferring ownership can be time consuming. There are a few paths to take, but quitclaim deeds are commonly used to turn over any interest you have to a trusted person, like a family member or friend.

To learn more about the ins and outs of property ownership, check out our comprehensive guide to mortgages.

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