In Ontario, HST always applies to the purchase of land unless there is a specific exemption. For most residential resale transactions, there is an HST exemption in place so that it does not apply. For many new homes, there are significant rebates for HST, as long as you intend to live in the new home or rent it out to a family member. However, there are some grey areas. Farms, for example, or homes with significant acreage that was regularly used as part of a farm, may attract HST. It may also apply if a substantial part of the house was used for a business, or if the house was substantially renovated and the owner used input tax credits. The only time it is safe to say that HST will not apply is for a residential property that was always used only for residential purposes and has had no renovations done.
The bottom line? If you’re not sure whether HST will apply, ask a specialist.