First Time Buyer Grants

First Time Home Buyer Grants for Canadians (2019)

Buying your first home is a major financial undertaking. Luckily, the government of Canada offers a variety of grants and special programs to help ease the financial strain, as a way to encourage more Canadians to take the leap into home ownership.

In this article, you’ll find an overview of the programs available nationwide and by province, including a description of each, whom it’s for, and how to apply. We welcome you to reach out to us, and we can help you make sense of the resources available to first-time home buyers.

National Programs

First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)

One of the biggest challenges for first-time home buyers is saving up a down payment. The purpose of the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit is to allow you to get a small portion of it back. This tax credit offers a $5,000 non-refundable amount when you file your tax return the following year, which translates to about an extra $750 in your pocket to help cover those new-home expenses.

Availability: National
Type: Tax Break
Value: $750​ Credit

Eligibility:

  • You’re a first-time home buyer.
  • The property is located in Canada.
  • It’s either an existing home or a newly built home purchased after January 27, 2009.
  • It’s a condo, townhouse, single-family home, semi-detached home or a duplex.
  • The property is occupied by the owner, or occupied by a person with a disability* within one year after it’s purchased (*see things to note section below).
  • You did not live in another home owned by you, your spouse or common-law partner in the year you acquired the property or any of the last four years.

Things to note

  • If you’re purchasing a home jointly with another individual, you can share the tax credit, but you cannot claim two HBTC credits for one property.
  • Your eligibility for the HBTC is not affected by your participation in the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP).
  • If you’re a person with a disability, or the home is being purchased for someone with a disability, you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer. However, the property must be purchased with the intent of providing greater accessibility.
  • If you’re living in co-operative housing, the property qualifies if you have equity interest.
  • If you only have a right of tenancy, the property won’t meet the requirements for this tax credit.​​​​​
  • In Saskatchewan, the credit amount can reach $1,075. 

How to apply: When you complete your tax return for the previous year (the year in which you purchased the home), you can apply for the credit on line 369 of Schedule 1.

Resource: First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit

Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is another program specifically designed to assist first-time home buyers in saving up the funds needed to purchase or build their first home.

When you contribute funds to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), that money is sheltered from tax until you withdraw it later on, in retirement. There are strict rules around the withdrawal of RRSP funds, but under the HBP, you can withdraw up to $25,000 (or up to $50,000 combined, if you’re buying with a partner) in a single calendar year to put towards a down payment on a home. The Home Buyers’ Plan can make it significantly easier to save up what you need for the purchase of a qualifying property for yourself or someone with a disability.

Availability: National
Type: Tax Break
Value: You can borrow up to $25,000 tax free from your RRSP. Your actual​​​​ tax savings depends on your marginal tax rate.

Eligibility:

  • You must be a first-time home buyer, meaning that you or your spouse/common-law partner must not have lived in a qualifying property owned by either of you in the last four years. Note that for people with disabilities, the four year rule doesn’t apply.
  • You must have a written agreement to build or purchase a qualifying home.
  • You must intend to live in the home as your principal residence. This condition does apply to people with disabilities.

Things to note

  • You do have to pay back what you initially withdrew from your RRSP, and you have to do it within 15 years of buying your home.
  • Your funds must be in the RRSP for at least 90 days prior to withdrawal in order for you to receive the full tax benefit of the HBP.
  • You cannot make the RRSP withdrawal more than 30 days after taking ownership of the home.
  • If you previously participated in the Home Buyers’ Plan, you may be able to re-qualify, provided you’ve fully repaid the amount you initially borrowed and you’re eligible based on all the other HBP eligibility criteria.
  • If you do not go through with the home purchase after withdrawing funds from your RRSP, you can cancel the HBP, or attribute the plan to a different home, as long as it’s purchased or built before October 1st of the following year.

Resource: Home Buyers’ Plan | Definition of a Qualifying Home

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

If you’re buying a home that is a new build, as opposed to a resale, you generally have to pay HST or GST. Some builders will include this cost in the price of the home, and others won’t, so it’s important to clarify this. In either case, you may be eligible for a tax rebate on a portion of the GST or HST you paid as part of the purchase or construction of a new home. There are multiple housing rebates you can claim, and the value of this rebate will vary based on which ones your home purchase qualifies for.

Availability: National
Type: Tax Rebate
Value: Varies based on the provincial and federal part of the GST/HST.

Eligibility:

  • This rebate can be claimed on a newly constructed home only if the fair market value is under $450,000 upon completion.
  • These rebates can also apply to those who are substantially renovating a property, building an add-on to an existing home, or converting a commercial property into a personal residence.
  • All other property qualifications must be met.

Things to note:

  • Mobile, modular and floating homes may also qualify.
  • Generally, you have two years from the date ownership of the house is transferred to you to claim the rebate.
  • In certain circumstances, other provincial new housing rebates and transitional new housing rebates may be available whether or not the federal portion of the HST/GST rebate is available.

How to apply: Various rebates are available, depending on the type of property and the province in which you’ve acquired it. For details regarding which rebates you’re eligible for and which forms are required for the application, please click the link below.

Resource: GST/HST new housing rebate

British Columbia

First Time Home Buyers’ Program

Exclusive to British Columbia, the First Time Home Buyers’ Program is intended to exempt first-time buyers from one of the major costs associated with the purchase of your first home: the property transfer tax. The program reduces or eliminates the amount owing for tax, depending on certain qualifications.

Availability: British Columbia
Type: Tax Break
Value: Up to $8,000

Eligibility:

  • You’re a citizen or permanent resident living in British Columbia for at least 12 consecutive months immediately before the date the property is registered, or you have filed a minimum of two income tax returns as a resident of B.C. in the previous six years.
  • The property is located in British Columbia.
  • You’ll use the property as your primary residence.
  • You must have never owned an interest in a principal residence anywhere in the world and have never received a tax exemption or refund as a first-time home buyer.
  • For full exemption, the property must have a fair market value of $475,000 or less (if registered on or before February 21st, 2017) or have a fair market value of $500,000 or less (if registered on or after February 22nd, 2017). A partial exemption may apply if these maximums are exceeded.
  • The total property size is 1.24 acres or less. A partial exemption may apply if this size is exceeded.
  • Foreign entities and taxable trustees are not eligible.

Things to note:

  • If you’re buying a property with a partner who doesn’t meet the conditions, only your ownership share will be eligible under this program. For example, if you’re buying a home with a partner who doesn’t qualify, then only 50% of the land transfer tax (your share) would be eligible for the exemption.
  • You must meet additional requirements during the first year of ownership in order to retain the exemption.
  • A partial exemption may apply if the property has a second building besides the principal residence.

How to apply: You can apply for this program by entering the exemption code FTH on your Property Transfer Tax Return.

Resource First Time Home Buyers’ Program

BC Home Partnership Program

NOTE: Applications are no longer being accepted for the BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership, as of April 1, 2018.

Home Owner Grant

B.C. is home to some of the most high-priced real estate markets in Canada, as well as some of the steepest property taxes. Under the Home Owner Grant, you may be eligible to lower the property taxes you’re required to pay on an annual basis for your principal residence.

The amount of tax relief you’re eligible for depends on where you live. For instance, those residing in the Capital Regional District, Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the Fraser Valley Regional District may be eligible for a grant of $570. Home owners residing in other parts of the province may be eligible for a grant of $770.

Availability: British Columbia
Type: Property Tax Relief
Value: Between $570 and $770

Eligibility:

  • You’re the registered owner of the home and you use it as your primary residence.
  • You’re under 65 years old.
  • You live in B.C. and are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You currently pay at least $350 annually in property taxes.
  • The value of your home does not exceed the grant threshold. In 2018, this threshold is $1.65mil, but this number is reviewed and adjusted each year.

Things to note:

  • Special grant requirements and amounts are available for seniors, veterans or people with disabilities. You may also qualify if you are residing with a spouse or relative with a disability, or you’re the spouse or relative of a deceased homeowner.
  • If you meet all requires except the grant threshold, you may still qualify for a partial grant.
  • If you are buying or selling the property, there are additional factors affecting your eligibility.

How to apply: You must apply for the Home Owner Grant each year in order to receive it. You can apply online by downloading and completing the Home Owner Grant application form. You can also apply by mail or in person.

Resource: Home Owner Grant

Newly Built Home Exemption

Similar to B.C.’s First Time Home Buyers’ Program, the Newly Built Home Exemption helps to lower or eliminate the property transfer tax you’re required to pay on a new house. The difference is that this exemption applies to newly built homes, whether or not you’re a first-time buyer.

Availability: British Columbia
Type: Property Transfer Tax Relief
Value: Up to $13,000 in tax exemptions.

Eligibility:

  • You’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • The property is located in B.C. and is used as your principal residence.
  • The property has a fair market value of $750,000 or less. If the value is between $750,000 and $800,000, you may be eligible for a partial exemption.
  • The total property size is 1.24 acres or less. A partial exemption may apply if this size is exceeded or if the property has a second building.
  • The property transfer (including land and improvements) was registered with the Land Title Office after February 16, 2016.

Things to note:

  • Newly built homes are defined as those built on a parcel of vacant land or are new apartments in a newly constructed condo building.
  • Manufactured homes that are placed on a parcel of vacant land are also eligible, as are pre-constructed homes that are moved from one parcel of land onto another parcel of vacant land, as long as the home has not been occupied since being moved.
  • A home found on a parcel of land that is subdivided may also be considered newly built, provided it hasn’t been occupied since the parcel’s subdivision.
  • A house that’s been converted from previously non-residential property to residential property (such as a warehouse that is converted into apartments), could also be considered as newly built.
  • After you register the property, you must meet occupancy requirements during the first year of ownership.
  • If you paid the transfer tax on the purchase of a vacant lot, on which you’ve since built a home, you may qualify for a refund under certain conditions.

How to apply: You can apply for the Newly Built Home Exemption by entering exemption code 49 on your Property Transfer Tax Return.

Resource: Newly Built Home Exemption

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Dwayne Giesbrecht

Mobile: 604-817-4578

Phone: 604-942-7214

Fax: 604-942-2639

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Johnston Meier Insurance and Realty

#202 3387 David Ave.  Coquitlam,  BC  V3E 0B8 

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