Buying a home is an expensive undertaking. That’s why so many grants and assistance programs are in place to help Canadians manage the cost of buying or building their first home.
These programs exist at both the federal and provincial level and have varying requirements for eligibility. Finding out how many programs you might qualify for can make buying your first house more affordable.
What is a first-time home buyer grant?
A first-time home buyer grant is a type of government incentive program to help eligible Canadians purchase their first home. The goal is to make buying a home more affordable.
Some of these programs are actual grants (i.e. you get to keep the money without repayment), but a few fall under the category of a loan and do need to be paid back within a predetermined period of time.
Be sure to do your research and be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding these initiatives to ensure you make the most of them.
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First-time home buyer grant and assistance options in Canada
First-time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit
The First-time Home Buyers’ tax credit, which is also referred to as the Home Buyers’ amount, allows Canadians who qualify to claim a $10,000 non-refundable income tax credit against their new home. This means that eligible Canadians can get up to a $1,500 tax rebate.
It’s not a ton of money, but every little bit counts. The government has proposed increasing the amount used to calculate the tax credit to $10,000 for 2022 and beyond. That would raise the amount of the credit to as much as $1,500.
First-Time Home Buyer Incentive
Eligible first-time home buyers can take advantage of this program to help reduce monthly mortgage payments. The First-time Home Buyer Incentive is a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada which means that you, as the potential home buyer, don’t have to save as much of a down payment to be able to afford the mortgage.
How much the Government of Canada offers depends on the type of home you want to buy, but it will be either 5% or 10% of the purchase price, depending on what kind of property you buy.
The FTHBI is a loan, not a grant. The money has to be paid back to the Government of Canada within 25 years or when you sell the home, whichever comes first. You’ll also owe a portion of your home’s appreciation.
Land Transfer Tax Rebate
If you are a first-time home buyer in a specific province or municipality, then you might be eligible for the land transfer tax rebate. Those who are eligible can qualify for a rebate of their land transfer tax up to a maximum amount, depending on where the home is located.
Eligible areas include Ontario (where you may be eligible for both a Toronto and Ontario tax rebate), British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Montreal also offers a tax refund to homeowners with children as part of its Home Ownership Program.
Home Buyers’ Plan
The Home Buyers’ Plan allows Canadians to withdraw from their registered retirement savings plan, or RRSP, to help either purchase or build a home for themselves or a related person with a disability.
There are several conditions that must be met in order to qualify. Those who do can withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSP to buy or build a new home. If you are buying a home with a partner, they can also withdraw up to $35,000, allowing you a total of $70,000.
In order to keep this RRSP withdrawal tax-free, you need to pay back the funds within a 15-year period.
GST/HST New Housing Rebate
With the GST/HST New Housing Rebate you might be eligible to get back some of the GST or the federal portion of the HST paid on a new or significantly renovated home that is used as a primary residence.
Like the other grants and programs on this list, there are a number of conditions you must meet to be eligible for this rebate. But it can be another money saver for those who qualify. On top of savings at the federal level, there may be programs that reduce the provincial portion of your HST as well.
Canada Greener Homes Grant
In an effort to encourage Canadians to live in more energy-efficient homes and help the fight against climate change, the government of Canada introduced the Canada Greener Homes Grant. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient. There’s also up to an additional $600 available for EnerGuide evaluations and expert advice. You can apply for this grant online.
How to find additional grants and assistance programs
The first-time home buyer grants and programs listed here are mostly at the federal level, but they aren’t the only options. Many provinces and municipalities also offer programs for first-time home buyers, so it’s worth your time to see if any are available in communities where you’re thinking of buying your first home.
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