CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is Ending 

CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is Ending

The dream of owning a home is something many Canadians share, especially first-time home buyers. 

To help make this dream a reality, the Canadian government, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), introduced the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI).  

This program was designed to assist first-time home buyers in purchasing a home by reducing their monthly mortgage payments without increasing their down payment.  

However, this program is now ending. Here’s everything you need to know about the FTHBI and what its termination means for prospective home buyers. 

What is the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive?

What is the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive? ​

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was launched in September 2019 as part of the National Housing Strategy.  

The goal was to make homeownership more affordable for first-time buyers. Under this program, the government provided 5% of the purchase price of a resale home or 10% of the purchase price of a newly constructed home.  

This amount was offered as a shared-equity mortgage, meaning the government would share in the gains or losses of the property value. 

How Did the Incentive Work?

Here’s a simplified breakdown of how the FTHBI worked: 

Eligibility: To qualify, applicants needed to be first-time home buyers, meaning they had not owned a home in the last four years, or were in a situation that fit specific criteria (e.g., experiencing a marital breakdown). Their household income had to be less than $120,000 annually, and their total borrowing amount could not exceed four times their qualifying income. 

Application Process: Eligible buyers applied for the incentive, and if approved, they received the funds at the time of purchase. This additional funding helped reduce the amount borrowed from the lender, thus lowering monthly mortgage payments. 

Repayment: The incentive was not free money. Homeowners were required to repay the same percentage of the home’s value they received, either after 25 years or when the house was sold, whichever came first. For example, if a buyer received a 5% incentive on a home purchased for $400,000, they would repay 5% of the home’s value at the time of repayment. 

Why is the FTHBI Ending?

Tips for Prospective Home Buyers

Several factors have contributed to the decision to end the FTHBI: 

  1. Low Uptake: Despite the initial excitement, the program did not attract as many participants as expected. Many potential buyers found the eligibility requirements too restrictive or were hesitant about the shared-equity nature of the incentive. 
  2. Rising Home Prices: The Canadian housing market has seen significant price increases over the past few years, making it more challenging for first-time buyers to afford homes even with the incentive. The FTHBI’s limits on eligible household income and borrowing amounts became less effective as home prices soared.
  3. Policy Shifts: The government is continuously evaluating its policies to address housing affordability. Ending the FTHBI could allow for the introduction of new or modified programs that better meet the housing market’s current needs. 

Impact on First-Time Home Buyers

The end of the FTHBI will undoubtedly impact first-time home buyers. Here’s what you can expect: 

  1. Increased Financial Strain: Without the incentive, first-time buyers will have to rely more on their savings and traditional mortgage products. It could lead to higher monthly payments and make it harder to afford a home. 
  2. Need for Larger Down Payments: The FTHBI helped reduce the amount needed for a down payment. By its end, buyers might need to save for a longer period to accumulate the necessary funds.
  3. Exploring Alternative Programs: Although the FTHBI is ending, other programs and incentives are available to help first-time buyers. These include the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), which allows individuals to withdraw from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a home, and the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit. 

Tips for Prospective Home Buyers

Tips for Prospective Home Buyers

If you are a prospective first-time home buyer, here are some tips to navigate the changing landscape:

  1. Start Saving Early: With the end of the FTHBI, having a robust savings plan is more critical than ever. Start saving as early as possible to build up your down payment. 
  2. Explore All Options: Look into other government programs and incentives that can assist with your home purchase. Make sure you understand the eligibility requirements and benefits of each. 
  3. Consider Market Timing: Keep an eye on the housing market and interest rates. Timing your purchase could save you money in the long run. Consult with real estate agencies to get insights on the best times to buy. 
  4. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage: Before you start house hunting, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you a clear understanding of your budget and make you a more attractive buyer to sellers. 
  5. Work with Professionals: Enlist the help of the best real estate agency, mortgage brokers, and financial advisors. They can provide valuable guidance and help you navigate the complexities of buying your first home. 

The Future of Housing Affordability in Canada

The end of the FTHBI is a reminder of the ever-changing nature of housing policies and the ongoing challenges of housing affordability in Canada.  

While this program may be ending, it opens the door for new initiatives and solutions to emerge. The government has indicated a continued commitment to addressing housing affordability, and new measures will likely be introduced to support first-time home buyers. 

Conclusion

The termination of the CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive marks a significant shift in the landscape for first-time home buyers in Canada.  

While it helped many Canadians take their first steps into home ownership, its end signifies a need to adapt and find new ways to achieve the dream of owning a home.  

By staying informed and prepared, prospective buyers can navigate this transition and utilize other available resources and programs. 

In the meantime, the housing market will continue to evolve, and the government and the real estate agency will likely introduce new strategies to address affordability and accessibility.  

For first-time home buyers, the key will be to remain flexible, proactive, and well-informed about their options.