The 2019 federal budget includes a tantalizing pitch for prospective first-time home buyers — one that could see Canada’s housing agency contribute up to 10 per cent of the purchase price of a home and bring down the mortgage load for borrowers.
The budget offers the program, known as the First Time Home Buyer Incentive, as a way to help with housing affordability. The government is earmarking $1.25 billion over three years for something it’s calling a “shared equity mortgage.”
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Functionally, it’s more like an almost interest-free loan — one where the repayment plan doesn’t require any payback until years in the future. In order to qualify, an applicant must have a household income of less than $120,000 per year and be able to come up with a five per cent down payment — the minimum requirement for an insured mortgage with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
CMHC is the Crown corporation that backstops the vast majority of Canada’s housing market by insuring the loans that finance it. This new program will make its role in the market even larger than it already is.