First Time Home Buyer Programs

What Are You Eligible For?

Mariko Baerg Realtor Blog Headshot
Written By: Mariko Baerg, REALTOR of Bridgewell Real Estate Group
If you’re looking for a realtor to help you purchase a property, call me today

As a first-time homebuyer, you’ll want to be familiar with various first time home buyer programs that apply to your situation.

The government has a number of programs in BC that offer additional funding or cost exemptions to make your home buying process more affordable.

While not all of these first time home buyer programs work for everyone, there’s information you need to know to navigate the buying process and potentially save yourself some money along the way.

Keep reading for some of the key first time home buyer programs and options that you’ll want to be aware of!

First Time Home Buyer Incentive (Updated 2021!)

The first time home buyer incentive is a shared equity mortgage (loan) offered by the government, in which they invest in the property with you. The incentive is not interest bearing and does not require on-going payments, but you do have to repay the loan within a 25 year period of when sold, whichever comes first.

This incentive is a loan, and is not to be confused with the BC HOME Partnership which was a down payment matching scheme.

A shared equity mortgage is where the government shares in the upside and downside of the property value. Therefore, the loan amount is calculated based on fair market value at the time of repayment, and is either 5% or 10% depending on whether your purchase was a resale or presale property.

For more details on the First Time Home Buyer Incentive, you can also check out this blog: Everything You Need to Know About the FTHB Incentive

To provide a further understanding and different scenarios of how the first time home buyer incentive might work, see the below example:


John has an annual qualifying income of $83,125.

To be eligible for Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, John can purchase condominium unit up to $350,000. John has the required minimum down payment of 5% of the purchase price, $17,500 from savings.

John can receive $35,000 in a shared equity mortgage – 10% of a newly constructed home.

This would reduce John’s mortgage payments by $200 a month or $2,401 a year.

Years later, John has decided to sell the condominium unit, but it is now worth $320,000. When the condominium unit is sold at the price of $320,000, John will have to repay the incentive as a percentage of the home’s current value. This would result in John repaying 10%, or $32,000 at the time of selling the house.

UPDATE NOTE… In case you were wondering…: There used to be a program called the BC HOME Partnership, but the BC government has since removed this program and it has been replaced with the recent First Time Home Buyer Incentive.

GST New Housing Rebate

For newly built homes, first time home buyers are able to apply for a GST credit from the government and/or the developer. The GST in BC is equal to 5%, and as a home buyer you may be eligible for a rebate of 36% of the 5% GST. There is a full general rebate for homes that are under $350,000 that a buyer intends on living is an his/her permanent residence, and there are partial rebates up to $450,000.

Let’s brush up our math skills for a little example:

Assume the purchase price of a new home is $350,000 excluding G.S.T. The gross G.S.T. is $17,500 (5% of $350,000).  The G.S.T. New Housing Rebate is 36% of $17,500 (5% GST), which is $6,300. Thus, the applicable G.S.T. is $17,500 (5%) less $6,300 (36% of 5% on $350,000), which equals $11,200. (GST payable after rebates)

For homes valued between $350,000.00 and $450,000.00, the rebate is gradually reduced and is calculated by using the following formula (get ready to brush up on your high school math):

$6,300 x [$450,000 – the purchase price] / $100,000

For example, assume the purchase price of a new home is $400,000 excluding G.S.T. The G.S.T. New Housing  Rebate is

$6,300 x [$450,000 – $400,000.00] / $100,000

which equals $3,150. The gross G.S.T. would be 5% of $400,000.00, which equals $20,000.00, less the partial G.S.T. New Housing Rebate of $3,150.00, for a net tax of $16,850.00.

Here are more details of the GST New Housing Rebate.

RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan

The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 tax-free in a calendar year from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to fund your down payment for buying or building a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. The money must be in your RRSP for at least 90 days before the purchase of your house for it to be valid.

The 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.

Here are more details of the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan.

First Time Home Buyers Program: Property Transfer Tax Exemption

The property transfer tax cost is as follows:

1% on the 1st $200,000

2% on the balance up to $2,000,000

3% on the balance above $2,000,000

If you are a first time home buyer that is planning on using the home as your primary residence and purchasing a home for less than $500,000 then you may be eligible for a full exemption. There are also partial exemptions up to $525,000. To qualify for a full exemption, at the time the property is registered you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • have lived in B.C. for 12 consecutive months immediately before the date you register the property or filed at least 2 income tax returns as a B.C. resident in the last 6 years
  • have never owned an interest in a principal residence anywhere in the world at any time
  • have never received a first time home buyers’ exemption or refund

Here are more details for the Property Transfer Tax exemptions for first time home buyers.

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.

Here are more details for the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax credit.

Interested in purchasing your first home and utilizing one or more of the first time home buyer programs? You’ll want to make sure that you have the right team to lead you in the right direction. Bridgewell Real Estate Group specializes in first time home buyers, and are well aware of the programs and options available that are specific to first time buyers! Call us at 604-765-0376. Prefer text? 604-319-0200 or email [email protected] to start a conversation.

Make the home buying process straight-forward from the start. Talk to one of our realtors today.


Want to talk right now?
Give us a call 604-765-0376 or text 604-319-0200.

    Do you want to
    find the right home

    With Bridgewell’s buyer systems and plans we’re determined to find the right home for you efficiently & effectively all while providing you the guidance and education that you need. Whether it’s presale or resale, investment or to live in, we’ve got you covered.

    Related Articles: 

    Buyers real estate guide


    Do you like our blog?

    Sign up for our newsletter to get tips, stats and market updates sent to your email!

    © Copyright - Bridgewell Real Estate Group . All rights reserved.