Saving up for a house can be a significant challenge. Between high student debt, challenging credit score requirements, and the ballooning cost of living, many Canadians have difficulty setting aside money to afford a house.
Fortunately, lenders recognize this problem and have been offering down payment assistance programs. These programs help Canadians afford their first down payment. They are typically shared equity mortgages which means the lenders will share the upside and downside of your property. There's usually a waiting list for these programs, and successful applicants will receive 5-15% of the property value to use as a down payment. The catch is that the percentage generally must be paid back after 20 years or when the property is sold. Many homebuyers can benefit from these helpful programs if they meet specific requirements.
Down payment assistance programs typically have strict qualifications. They are designed to help low to moderate-income families afford a house. There are strict qualifications. In general, to qualify for this program, you must;
However, each municipality has different requirements to suit their local needs better. These requirements and programs are constantly changing, too, so it's best to review the links provided to double-check.
If you qualify for down payment assistance, the next step is to research the options available to you. Below is a list of the programs offered federally and by municipalities in some provinces. As mentioned above, always double-check to ensure nothing has changed with the program. If you do not qualify for any of the options and aren’t a first-time home buyer, then contributing to your TFSA can be a good option to save for a down payment.
The First-Time Home Buyers Incentive is a shared equity mortgage that makes it easier to buy a home while lowering monthly mortgage payments. It allows you to borrow up to 10% of the purchase price to use as a down payment. However, you must pay back the same percentage of property value when you sell or after 25 years. As the name suggests, this program is only meant for first-time home buyers.
The government shares the upside and downside of your property value. Imagine you buy a property for $400,000 with a 10% loan from the FTHBI. If you sell the property after ten years for $500,000, you owe the government 10% of the property value. This would translate to $50,000 (500,000 * 10%). Although you save on mortgage interest initially, you will need to pay more down the road.
There has been no better time to buy a house in Kitchener. The municipal government is lending 5% of the property value to first-time home buyers. The benefit is those who live in their house for more than 20 years will not need to pay back the loan. However, if you sell before 20 years, you must pay back 5% of the housing value (same concept as FTHBI).
To qualify, you must have lived in Waterloo for the past 12 months and meet some other criteria that you can find here.
Simcoe County is willing to lend up to 10% of the property value to help qualifying homebuyers purchase a property. As the case with Kitchener, applicants must pay back the same percentage of property value if they sell their property before 20 years. However, if the property remains the primary residence for over 20 years, there is no need to repay the loan. The house must be less than $462,645, and applicants must have a household income at or below $75,100. You can find more information about the program here.Hamilton
Applications are no longer being accepted for this program.
Accès Condos has developed more than 3,600 low-cost units throughout the city of Montreal. Buyers must make a minimum $1,000 deposit and receive a 10% premium credit applied to the down payment for an approved development.
On March 31, 2018, the province of B.C. discontinued its Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program. At the moment, it has no widespread down payment assistance programs available.
The Attainable Homes Program allows successful applicants only to contribute $2000 towards the downpayment of their homes. However, if the homeowner sells their home, the value growth is split between the owner and the program. Applicants must also choose from a preselected list of properties. The longer the homeowner lives in the house, the less percentage they have to split with the program.
The Mortgage Flexibilities Support Program offers qualifying home buyers a 5% down payment grant to purchase a house. Applicants must have an income of less than $69,975 per person and $74,640 per couple. They must also have a maximum net worth of less than $25,000. Successful applicants must apply the grant to a preselected pool of properties.
The Rural Homeownership Program is only available to renters who live in a home owned by Manitoba Housing in specific rural communities or those who want to buy a vacant house owned by Manitoba Housing. Applicants must meet a maximum household income requirement of 63,450- $84,600 depending on if the household has children.
The program consists of a loan worth 10% of the purchase price forgiven on a pro-rata basis over five years and another 15% forgivable loan after 15 years of continuous ownership and occupancy.
The Home Ownership Program is a government-sponsored program that provides financing to first-time homebuyers. A repayable loan worth up to 40% of the purchase price of an existing house or $75,000 for new builds is offered as part of this initiative. It is open to individuals with household incomes below $40,000. Unlike the previous programs, this is not a shared equity mortgage. The loan must be repaid, and the interest rate caps out at the provincial borrowing rate.
The Home Purchase Program was active in 2018/19 but is no longer available.
The Down Payment Assitance Program (DPAP) assists Nova Scotians with modest incomes in purchasing their first home. Participants who meet the income and debt criteria may receive an interest-free repayable loan of up to 5% of the price of a home. Applicants must have lived in Nova Scotia for the past 12 months, have a maximum household income of $75,000, and purchase a house no more than 200,000-$300,000. This is not a shared equity mortgage, so the loans must be repaid in 10 years.
PEI's Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) helps qualified residents with modest incomes to purchase their first home. DPAP provides a repayable loan of up to 5% of the purchase price of a new or existing home to a maximum cost of $15,000.
This is not a shared equity mortgage but is also not a conventional mortgage loan. Mortgage payments go directly to the principal. If the applicant defaults, they must pay the remaining balance and accrued interest calculated at 5% per annum. Additionally, the purchase price of the home must be no more than $300,000.
Lotly matches you up with investors so that you can buy a home with a smaller down payment. With Lotly, you'll only need a 5% down payment. Lotly investors will contribute up to a 15% down payment, or up to $250,000, so that you’ll make a total down payment of 20% of your home’s purchase price. This allows for your mortgage to be uninsured, saving you on CMHC default mortgage insurance premiums. You will have to pay back the investors within 10 years, either from your own money or by selling the home.
Homeowners that buy a home with Lotly will still share in the appreciation of the home. Their split of the appreciation is based on how much they contributed as a down payment. This starts at 51% of the upside (or downside) if you make a down payment of 5%, and can go up to 84% of the upside (or downside) if you make a down payment of 15%. Homeowners will also keep the home equity built by paying down their mortgage principal, as well as keep their initial contribution amount as home equity. Investors will share the remaining appreciation, or depreciation. This means that if your home value falls, Lotly investors will share in the loss as well.
|Down Payment||Buyer's Share of Home Appreciation||Investor’s Share of Home Appreciation|
For example, if you make a down payment of 5%, then you’ll get 51% of the home’s price appreciation. If your home value goes up by $100,000 in five years, then your equity would have increased by $51,000, not considering your mortgage principal payments. Investors would own the remaining $49,000 of that increased home value.
If home prices fall significantly, the most you would ever lose is your down payment.
Currently, Lotly is only available in the GTA, Kitchener, and Waterloo. There is a waitlist to join Lotly.
For those looking to buy a home, Lotly charges a 3.5% fee, capped at $5,000.
For investors, Lotly charges a 2% initiation fee on the property value and a 2% annual management fee on the invested amount.
Ourboro offers home co-ownership, where they co-invest in your home by contributing 5% up to 15% of your home's purchase price as a down payment, up to a maximum of $250,000. Your ownership share is based on your percentage of the down payment contributed. If you make a 5% down payment and Outboro makes a 15% down payment, then you would have a 25% share of your home's appreciation.
Currently, Ourboro is only available for homes located within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and it takes 2-4 months to buy a home with them. In 2023, Ourobor started operating in Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, and London. The minimum down payment that you’re required to contribute is 5% of the home’s purchase price. You’ll also need to fully cover all closing costs, except land transfer tax. In the case of land transfer tax, the amount you’ll have to pay is split according to your stake in the home. Ourboro works with CIBC and Equitable Bank as their mortgage lending partners. You will need to use one of Ourboro's lender partners through their third-party mortgage broker.
Just like Lotly, Ourboro requires you to pay them back within 10 years. This means buying out Ourboro's share at market value. This could be done by selling the home or by using your own money. If you do sell the home, the principal that you have paid down on the mortgage is yours to keep, no matter what happens to the home value.
The maximum amount that you can lose with Ourboro is your initial down payment. If the home’s value decreases significantly, you won’t owe Ourboro any additional money.
|Down Payment||Buyer's Share of Home Appreciation||Investor’s Share of Home Appreciation|
Both Lotly and Ourboro help homebuyers with their down payment for a primary residence, up to $250,000, with homebuyers only needing to save 5% for their down payment. They both require you to buy out their shares after 10 years, and they both operate in the GTA only. You can also sell the home at any time with both programs, so you’re not locked in.
A significant difference is the stake in your home’s price appreciation. With Lotly, you’ll get a 51% stake by making a 5% down payment. With Ourboro, a 5% down payment will give you only a 25% stake. In both cases, the maximum amount that you can lose is your initial down payment. Starting in February 2023, Ourboro has expanded to Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, and London. This means that Ourboro has a wider geographical reach than Lotly, giving more property choices.
Buyer's Share with Lotly
Investor’s Share with Ourboro
In Canada, mortgages with a down payment of less than 20% are required to be insured. That’s a requirement by OSFI, the regulator of financial institutions in Canada. However, down payment assistance programs allow you to make a down payment of less than 20%. Will your mortgage need to be insured, and will you need to pay for mortgage default insurance?
In 2022, OSFI released a clarification that allows federally regulated financial institutions to offer uninsured mortgages with shared equity if:
This means that borrowers can make a down payment as little as 5%, and use a down payment assistance program to get an uninsured mortgage if the equity provider tops up the total down payment to at least 20%. This allows the borrower to avoid paying for the cost of CMHC insurance, as well as certain restrictions due to CMHC mortgage rules.
Down payment assistance is a program that helps you afford the down payment of your home purchase. The shared equity model decreases your monthly mortgage payments but can increase the amount you pay when you sell your house. Another strategy to help afford a home is to partner with a spouse or friend through a joint mortgage.