1. Buying
  2. First Time Home Buyer

First-Time Home Buyer Programs

As a first-time homebuyer, you’ll want to be familiar with various programs that apply to your situation. Whether it’s a rebate you may qualify for, a tax-efficient way of funding your down payment, or the minimum you must put down for your home purchase, there’s information you need to know to navigate the buying process and potentially save yourself some money along the way.

Here are some of the key things you’ll want to be aware of:

CMHC Insurance

Mortgage default insurance—often known as CMHC Insurance—may seem like a strange concept, but it’s relatively straightforward. If you have a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s value, you must purchase mortgage default insurance. But this doesn’t act as insurance for you. Rather, it protects your lender in case you don’t make your mortgage payments. It’s designed to make financial institutions comfortable with lending to individuals who don’t have a large down payment.

Mortgage insurance is calculated as a percentage of the value of the mortgage amount. If your down payment is between 5% to 9.99%, the mortgage insurance will represent 3.6% of the mortgage amount. For down payments of 10% to 14.99%, the mortgage insurance will cost 2.40%. And for down payments of 15% to 19.99%, mortgage insurance costs 1.80%.

CMHC insurance isn’t available for homes with a purchase price of more than $1 million. As a result, anyone buying a house in excess of this amount must have at least 20% as a down payment on their purchase.

In Canada, you must put down a minimum of 5% as a down payment on your home. However, this only applies to homes with a purchase price of less than $500,000. It’s important to note that if you’re buying a home costing between $500,000 and $1 million, the federal government recently increased how much you must place as a down payment. With the new rules, you have to put down 5% for the first $500,000 but 10% on the amount between $500,000 and $1 million.


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RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan

If you haven’t purchased a home within the last four years (or lived in a spouse’s home in the same timeframe), you may qualify for the government’s Home Buyer’s Plan. With this plan, you may borrow up to $25,000 tax-free from your RRSP to fund your down payment. Just keep in mind that the money must be in your RRSP at least 90 days before the purchase of your house.

The First Time Home Buyer’s Plan is advantageous for Canadians because generally speaking, early withdrawals from RRSPs are considered taxable income. In this case, they’re exempt but you must start repaying the amount borrowed from the RRSP two years after you buy over a 15-year period.

Land Transfer Tax Rebate

You can receive a rebate on some of the land transfer tax you pay if you live in British Columbia, Ontario, or Prince Edward Island. Homebuyers in the City of Toronto are also eligible to receive a rebate on the city’s land transfer tax, in addition to the provincial rebate. The amount available depends on where you live and only applies if you’re a first-time buyer.

First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit

This credit, introduced in the 2009 federal budget, allows first-time buyers in Canada the opportunity to recover some of the costs associated with their purchase. It helps offset legal fees, inspections, and other similar closing costs. The First-time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit is a non-refundable credit and is valued at $750.

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

This rebate offers money back to Canadians who buy a newly built home, substantially renovate an existing home, or rebuild a home that was destroyed due to fire. In all three cases, an individual will incur GST/HST on their purchase. The GST portion of a new home purchase or renovation can be rebated to all Canadians who qualify.


First-Time Home Buyer Education Topics