How to Buy a Foreclosed Home in Canada in 2023

If you’re able to take advantage of a home that’s foreclosing, it might be worth it. With housing prices being so high right now, homeowners may find they can’t afford the mortgages they currently have. This can cause the bank to take the home and sell it at a much cheaper price in most cases. Foreclosure may be forced on a homeowner because of criminal activity or bad living conditions. There are many circumstances that can cause someone to be removed from their property.

Lenders who keep the liens to properties like this will need to do something to get some of their money back as they will be at a loss. The lender is legally allowed to sell the home, putting it up for sale.

Foreclosures in Canada

Foreclosures are like a needle in a haystack. They’re hard to find and this is because there really aren’t that many foreclosures. Lenders and banks may try to scare a borrower to make their payments by telling the foreclosure is a possibility but it’s a last resort for any lender to do this. It’s an expensive process for the lender and extremely time consuming. Before a home can be sold, there are legal proceedings that need to take place. This is at the cost of the lender. The home will often be sold at an auction or put up for sale at a much lower price. This will give the lender the money it needs from the loss of profit they experienced through the foreclosure process.

Foreclosures only happen when it was totally necessary. Usually, lenders revoke the title of the home when 4 mortgage payments have defaulted. The process may be different depending on the province and the lender. When the foreclosure is complete, borrowers have up to 35 days to vacate the premises. Even during the foreclosure period, lenders are likely to negotiate if the borrowers are able to come up with the money or prove they can start to make payments again. If the lender finally decides that the borrower will never make the payments, they can foreclose the property and sell it in two ways:

Judicial Sale

This type of foreclosure sale is something you’ll see in BC, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. A judicial sale is when the lender will need to petition to a judicial court to gain permission to sell the home. As with any court-related, this process can take quite a long time and due to the length of the court case, it can be very expensive for the lender to pay the legal fees. Lenders are able to start the process of foreclosure after even just one missed mortgage payment. It’s likely they wouldn’t do this but they are legal allowed to. The legal proceeding begins quite shortly after the lender has begun the process. When the legal proceedings begin, the borrower is served with a “Statement of Claim for Debt and Possession.”  The borrower then has 20 days to file “Statement of Defence” in response.

The borrower may fight for their home but in most cases will lose the case. If they don’t file the Statement of Defense, they will lose their case and the lender is given permission to sell the home. It can take between several months to a year to go through the whole process. When it’s over, the lender has all rights to sell the property through a real estate auction or through an agent. Much of the money is returned covers the legal fees it cost to get the right to sell the home in the first place.

Power of Sale

Another option for the lender is Power of Sale. This is when the lender has the right to sell the property because of a clause put in the homebuyer’s mortgage contract. It’s common in the provinces of Ontario, PEI, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick. If 4 payments are missed, the process will begin. The borrower has 35 days to catch up on defaulted payments, outstanding tax arrears, late penalties, and any fees that come with the Power of Sale.

If the borrower doesn’t come up with the money to make all the payments, they are given an eviction notice and must leave the property within 30 days. The lender will then sell the property through a real estate agent or at an auction. With this process, they need to sell it a higher price point in order to cover costs, including the balance remaining on the unpaid mortgage.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Foreclosed Home

Perhaps one of the cons about looking for a deal with a foreclosed home is that they are quite uncommon. However, it’s still possible to find a foreclosed property but the procedure to buy it is different that what you’ll see with a normal mortgage. Before looking into purchasing a foreclosed home, there a few things to consider.


  • As the lender want to recuperate losses, they will look for fast sale.
  • House may be sold at a lower price than it was last purchased at.
  • If you buy at a mortgage options, you could get it for an even lower price.
  • Liens and any other payments that were owed on the home will be expunged.
  • Beneficial for landlords who want to buy and fix cheaper properties and then rent out.
  • If you get a good price on a property, you can use money to make home improvements, increasing the value. This may lead to selling the home for a profit down the road.


  • Foreclosures aren’t always a really good deal.
  • There may be competition at auctions, causing the price to drive up.
  • Legal and financial procedures for purchasing a foreclosed home can be complex and much more difficult to understand.
  • There is no negotiating on fixing up the property. You’ll have to cover repairs and renovations as well as getting rid of anything the tenants left behind.
  • The lender is absolved from future liability of the property.
  • There are no warranties on the foundation, hydroelectricity, or zoning problems.
  • Visiting hours are restrictive so you may not always have a chance to really look at the home. There could be excess damage or hydroelectricity is shut down.

Land Transfer Tax

When you purchase a foreclosed home, you’ll have to pay the land transfer tax, which is as follows:

  • Homes under $200,000 – 1%
  • Homes of $200,000 – $2,000,000 – 2%
  • Homes over $2,000,000 – 3%

Preparing to Buy a Foreclosed Home

If you still think you’d like to look for a foreclosed home, there are a few things you’ll want to prepare. You want to consider how you’ll secure financing for it if you don’t plan to cover it out-of-pocket. When you buy a foreclosed property, the process is more complex and you take some risks. Make sure you’re prepared for this when you apply for the mortgage. Some measures you may want to consider taking include:

Getting Professional Advice

The home might be an attractive price but there are a lot of things that might be wrong with the home. In some cases, homeowners that are willing to default on their mortgage to the point of losing their home may have greatly neglected it. There could be some large-scale issues that would cost much more. It’s important to seek out counsel from your financial or real estate advisor. They can let you know about the costs and risks involved on purchasing a foreclosed home. You can decide if making this kind of purchase is worth the risks involved.

Make Sure Property is Inspected and Appraised

The main reason you want to buy a foreclosed home is the money you’ll save. You won’t save money if there are major problems with the home. This is why it’s important to go through the due diligence of having the home inspected and appraised. This allows you to see if there are any major problems with the property and lets you know how much the market value of the home is. The lender may also offer an inspection and appraisal but it’s heavily recommended that you also have this done privately and pay for it. This will let you know for sure what the property value is and whether it’s worth purchasing.

Hire a Real Estate Professional

Purchasing a foreclosed home is more complicated than buying a normal home so it’s important to have a real estate on your side. They can help you through the process, help you find the property that’s right for you, and guide you through the pros and cons. There are a lot of steps in the process like the court date and inspection date. With foreclosure sales, lenders will offer you a realtor for free as they’re looking to rid themselves of the property.

Create a Budget

There are a lot of costs involves with buying a foreclosure home. First, we suggest you use a personal loan calculator to figure out how much you’ll be paying for everything. A property that’s foreclosed will often need work to create a safe environment to live in. If you’re unable to afford the costs, you may want to wait until you can find a property that works better for you. There are more expenses than you may realize including:

  • Cost of switching on utilities like heating, water, or electricity.
  • Cleaning
  • Maintenance
  • Changing the locks
  • Potential renovations
  • Inspection and appraisal
  • Property taxes
  • Land transfer taxes
  • Appliances and furniture
  • Removal of previous owner’s things if any
  • Interest rates
  • Administrative fees
  • Titles and permits

Application Process

When you buy a home at an auction, there are some steps you may not have been able to take. It’s often better to use a real estate company to help you purchase a foreclosed home. The approval process is needed either way if you’re looking to get a traditional mortgage. You’ll have to prepare a lot of information related to your finances so a lender can inspect the viability of giving you a mortgage. Some things you should prepare includes:

  • Organized account of your personal and financial documents
  • Pay down any of the debts you currently have
  • If your credit isn’t great right now, work on improving it
  • See if you can increase your income
  • Save as much as you can and offer a larger-than-average down payment
  • Figure out a financial plan for yourself

The Value of Credit

No matter what kind of mortgage you’re looking to get, your credit is an important part of the puzzle. Even with a low asking price of a foreclosed home, it’s still a large chunk of money. You want to have some money saved just in case anything happens. You could lose your job or need to repair something large. It’s essential to have money you can put towards the home as well as savings. You can secure an affordable interest rate if you have a good credit score. Paying a lower interest rate can be a major saving.

What is a Good Credit Score?

The credit scores range from 300 to 900. A good credit score is considered 680 or more. If you have a higher credit score, the lender you’re working with will feel comfortable lending you the money you need. You simply have better opportunities to borrow when you have a good credit score.

You can still secure financing with a credit score that is under 680 but you’ll likely pay higher interest rates. If you’re patient about purchasing a home and instead focus on improving your credit score, you can save a lot of money in interest. When you do get a mortgage and you pay on time and in full, you will further improve your credit score. As you consider buying a foreclosed home, you really want to ask yourself if you can afford it. If you can’t, you will have a hard time ever getting back into the housing market. If you can, you further improve your financial health and wealth. You can accept a variety of other loans at lower interest rates.

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Loraine Couturier

Loraine Couturier is a Canadian that has been working as a freelance writer for the past ten years, specializing in topics that include personal finance, medical journals, and the online gaming industry. She is a published author, digital marketing expert and an authority in the fields in which she writes about.