Packing tips, Down payment


Dear David,

We are in our mid-sixties and downsizing to a bungalow. We’re excited about the move, but are apprehensive about packing (we were a lot younger the last time we did this). Any tips? – BOXED IN

DEAR BOXED: Packing can be physically demanding. I recommend you start as early as possible and cover a bit of ground each day. With time to work at a comfortable pace, you’ll be able to do the job well, stay organized and most importantly, be injury-free by the time you reach your new home.

Use small boxes when possible. Try mixing heavy and light items, to keep the weight of each box under what you can safely lift. You’ll be moving boxes around as you pack and unpack, so cater their weights to your own abilities, even if you’ve hired a crew for moving day.

Prepare for an organized landing. Label each box with a list of contents and the room it’s destined for in your new home. Pack a few specific boxes of essentials and mark them “Open First”, to minimize the inevitable scramble that comes with locating key items when you arrive. Consider using plastic tubs for items you plan to store over the long term, such as those destined for the basement or garage. Speaking of plastic, I provide FrogBoxes ( to many of our local clients as a manageable, stackable and environmentally-friendly packing option. They’re delivered to your current home and picked up from your new one.

PRO TIP: Your mover is a key professional, just like your Realtor. As such, I suggest you use a highly recommended moving company, even if they aren’t the cheapest option. There are many ways a move can go wrong and working with pros could save you a ton of grief.

Dear David,

I’m thinking of buying, how much do I really need for a down payment? – NUMBERS GUY

DEAR NUMBERS: Your minimum required down payment would be 5 percent of the purchase price plus closing costs, which includes land transfer tax and lawyer’s fees. In general, closing costs can be estimated at an additional 1.5 percent of the purchase price. There may be some variation, depending on your lender and your credit score.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be eligible for a refund of all or part of the provincial land transfer tax, to a maximum of $4000 (provided you have never owned a home, or an interest in one). An additional Toronto land transfer tax applies within the GTA, which is equal to the provincial tax and not eligible for a subsidy. If land transfer tax is not a direct expense to you, many financial institutions still want to see that you have funds in your account to cover it. I expect this is so the sale can still close, if you don’t end up qualifying for a refund.

In addition, you’ll need to cover inspection costs ($400-$600), a septic inspection (for rural properties) and moving costs. PRO TIP: Stay tuned for more about the provincial first-time homebuyer program that starts in September 2019. Full details haven’t been released as this goes to print, but I’ll keep you posted!