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Does it really take a million documents to buy a home?

In short: yes. But this listicle will keep you organized.
Yes, the process can be overwhelming, but keeping things organized in a digital folder can help.

We bet you’re wondering: what documents do I need to have at hand when buying a home? Answer: a lot. But take heart, we’ve compiled a handy (oh yes we did) list for you to use.

The not-so-famous five

There are five categories of documents that you’ll need when applying for your mortgage. In short, they are:

  1. Identification
  2. Proof of employment and income
  3. Basic financial information
  4. Information about your down payment
  5. Information about the property

We’ve been guiding Canadians home since 1978. Back then, Cheerios cost 69 cents a box. So you could say that we’ve been at this for a while. We truly do love to help, so here’s an REW Smoking Hot Tip when preparing your paperwork: start by creating a shared folder in whichever cloud you store your life in.

You’ll find that you will need to provide these documents more than once to different parties along the way, so collect them all in one, easily-accessible place so that you can quickly pop off what is needed while dashing through the school run with a hangry toddler and two different earrings because, well, it’s been that kind of day.

Number 1: I am who I say I am

Out the gates you will need government-issued proof of identification, such as:

  • Driver’s licence issued in Canada
  • Canadian passport
  • Certificate of Canadian Citizenship (with photo)
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Certificate of Indian Status issued with photo
  • Provincial health insurance card with photo (not allowed in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario or Prince Edward Island)
  • Provincially issued identification card with photo
  • Identification card with photo and signature issued by:
    • Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
    • Alberta Registries
    • Saskatchewan Government Insurance
    • Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
    • Department of Transportation and Public Works of the Province of Prince
      Edward Island
    • Service New Brunswick
    • Department of Government Services and Lands of the Province of
      Newfoundland and Labrador
    • Department of Transportation of the Northwest Territories
    • Department of Community Government and Transportation of the Territory of
  • U.S. driver’s licence
  • Foreign passport

Number 2: You can trust me, I’m a doctor/shoemaker/soldier/spy

This is the part where you tell perfect strangers what you do and how much you earn.

  • Most recent pay stubs (three months’ worth)
  • T1 general tax form from the prior year
  • Notice of assessment from the last two years
  • T4 tax form
  • Letter of employment from the previous 30 days

If you are not a straight-forward clock-in and out-er, there are some additional considerations:

  • if self-employed:
    • T4A tax form
    • Six months of business bank statements to show cash flow
    • Recent invoices and contracts
    • All documents as above, but for a more extended duration
  • if a real estate investor:
    • Lease / rental agreement from tenants

Number 3: Don’t worry, I’m good for it

Next up, you need to provide your basic financial information to show that you have the ability to service your mortgage and cover your closing costs.

  • Most recent bank statements (two-three months)
  • Credit score report
  • Mortgage pre-approval letter
  • List of assets and investments
  • Information about your debts
    • Credit card balances
    • Car loans or leases
    • Lines of credit
    • Student loans
    • Financial obligations such as spousal/child support

Number 4: I’ve got it down

You’re almost there. Now you’ll need to confirm the source of funds for your down-payment, which can be any of the following:

  • Statement of savings or investments (no older than 90 days)
  • Sale agreement of existing property
  • RRSP withdrawals (first-time buyers)
  • Gift letter (if a family member is contributing towards your down payment, you’ll need a signed letter from them acknowledging the purpose of the gift and confirming that it is non-repayable)

Number 5: Time to bring it home

And finally, the reason we’re all here: the property. Last of all, you will need to provide the docs about your new abode-to-be:

  • Final purchase and sale agreement
  • MLS listing
  • The legal description of the home you are buying
  • Homeowners insurance policy
  • Lenders' title insurance

And, if you are selling a home to finance this purchase, you will also need:

  • Recent mortgage statements
  • The legal description of the home you are selling

Congratulations. You made it. Look, we know this adventure can seem hard at times, but we promise you, it’s worth the (paper)work. One day in the not too distant future, you’re going to sink into the sofa and let the happily ever after credits roll.