First-time buyer incentive

More details about the FirstTime Home Buyer Incentive program were rolled out last week.

The intent of the plan is to help make mortgages more affordable for qualified first-time home buyers.

Who qualifies to use the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program?

  • At least one purchaser must be a first-time home buyer
  • Must not have owned a home during the last four years
  • People who have gone through a marital breakdown or separation (even if they have owned a home within the last four years)
  • Household income can not exceed $120,000 a year
  • Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or non-permanent residents who are legally authorized to work in Canada

The maximum mortgage amount can be up to four times the amount of your annual income. If your income is $100,000 the maximum mortgage amount will be $400,000 so your purchase price will be $400,000 PLUS your down payment.

If you have $20,000 saved and the program kicks in $20,000 your purchase price would be $440,000.

As the maximum allowable income under the program is capped at $120,000 this means the maximum mortgage amount will be $480,000 (plus the related CMHC premium) plus your down payment.

This puts the maximum purchase price under the program at $530,000 (slightly higher for a brand new home).

The federal government’s new plan is slated to roll out Sept. 2, 2019. Mortgages approved under the program can close November 1, 2019 or later. The program’s information page contains a qualifier stating that these dates may change due to unforeseen circumstances.

In a nutshell, the government of Canada is offering either five or ten per cent towards your down payment in exchange for an equity share in your home. You must have a minimum of five per cent down from your own resources.

For existing homes, the maximum contribution from the program is five per cent; for new construction you may be eligible for ten per cent towards your down payment.

The government’s contribution is non-interest bearing and must be repaid when you sell your home or after twenty-five years.

Instead of charging interest, the government has structured this as an equity share in your home.

What this means is that when you sell your home you will repay the government the same percentage of the sale value of your home (or current value of the home if you still own it at the twenty-five year mark) as their original contribution.

As an example, you buy a home priced at $300,000. The government kicks in $15,000. Ten years later you sell your home for $400,000. Your repayment to the program is $20,000 (five per cent of $400,000).

If the market crashed and your home sold for $200,000 your repayment would be five per cent of $200,000 so in this case $10,000.

Using the example of the $300,000 purchase price, having the additional $15,000 toward your down payment would reduce your monthly payment by about $75. You would pay about $4,500 less over the first five-year term.

If you sold at the end of five years for $400,000 your repayment of the equity share would be $20,000 – five per cent of the sale price of your home.  Doing the math, you paid $4500 less in payments but it cost you $500.

Say you sell your home at the ten-year mark. For years six to ten of your mortgage, assuming a similar interest rate and no extra principal payments, with the reducing balance your payments are about $60 less per month less. So you pay $8100 less over the ten years ($4500 + $3600).

By taking advantage of the program, your mortgage insurance premium would be $3,030 less than if you decided to only use your own funds for down payment.

At the end of the ten years you sell your home for $500,000. Your repayment to the program would be $25,000.00. The government’s initial contribution was $15,000.

This equity share has now cost you $10,000.00 less the $3030 reduced insurance premium which was added to the mortgage upfront. Factor in that your payments were $8100 lower, so you have benefited by $1130 having used the additional down payment.

There are a few additional costs that you will incur by using the program. For example, there will be an additional charge at the lawyer’s for registering the equity share against the title of your home. You will need to get a quote from your specific legal representative, but with the BC program two years ago it cost my clients between $150 and $200 extra.

When it comes time to repay the equity share, an appraisal will be required to determine the current value of your home.

The information released so far indicates that the government’s contribution to your down payment will be registered as a second mortgage against your home. Guessing on my part as I haven’t seen the specifics yet, I expect that this will be registered not as the original amount but in a way that protects the government’s interest in the home over time.

This means that you will likely have to repay the equity share if you are looking to refinance your home. Ideally you would pay off the government’s contribution as soon as possible, as the repayment amount is based on the value of the home at the time you pay it off.

The promotional material I’ve seen states that the intent of the program is to make home ownership more affordable. This is achieved by reducing the monthly mortgage payment.

I anticipate that we will start to hear from lenders over the coming weeks as to how they will be handling applications for clients wishing to use this program.

I also expect we will hear more from the government over the coming months as they address the multitude of questions that have already been raised.

This is one aspect of the program for you to think about. As I said, for some people this may be the assistance that means they qualify to buy a home as opposed to having to wait longer. It may not sound like much, but by reducing your monthly mortgage payment by even $75 frees up those funds for daily essentials, or maybe even a savings account for future repairs to  your home.

For more information about the specifics of the program, check out the link to the government site on the Resources section of our webpage.


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About the Author

Tracy Head and Laurie Baird help busy families find mortgage solutions. Together they have more than 45 years of experience in the mortgage industry.

With today’s increasingly complicated mortgage rules, Tracy and Laurie spend time getting to know the people they work with and help them to better understand the mortgage process. They support their clients before, during, and after their mortgage is in place.

Tracy and Laurie work closely with their clients, offering advice and options. With access to more than 40 different lenders, Tracy and Laurie are able to assist with residential, commercial, and reverse mortgages in order to match the needs of their clients with the right mortgage package.

They work closely with their clients to find the right fit, and are around to provide support for years down the road!

Contact them at 250-862-1806 or visit http://www.okanaganmortgages.com

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