For months, finance minister Bill Morneau has been alluding to a possible break for first-time home buyers in the 2019 federal budget. Now, it seems like he’s delivered.
The new “CMHC First-Time Home Buyer Incentive” would put $1.25 billion over three years towards helping first-time buyers apply for insured mortgages. Buyers with a household income of less than $120,000 will be eligible to receive up to 10 per cent of their home price from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). (That’s 10 per cent for those purchasing a new-built home, and 5 per cent for a resale unit).
Several major details about the initiative are still to come — owners will have to repay the incentive in time, but it remains unclear as to how. The government has indicated that the program is slated to launch in the early fall.
Critically, the price of the would-be home would be capped at four times the buyers household income. Meaning, only properties valued at $480,000 or less would be eligible for the program. That could mean that some of the country’s priciest markets — including Toronto and Vancouver — will be largely exempt.
“The government has also placed limits on the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive...These criteria demonstrate that this program is aimed at Canada's small and medium-sized housing markets, as opposed to major urban centres where many households will exceed the maximum income threshold,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial, in a statement.
But the buyer-incentive program is far from the only housing-related measure in the budget. As previously promised, the government will be enhancing the Home Buyer’s Plan, from $25,000 to $35,000. The plan currently allows first-time buyers to withdraw a $25,000 tax-free loan from their RRSP in order to purchase a home.
The government has also indicated its intention to boost the supply of low-income affordable housing across the country. Up to $10 billion of low-interest financing will be provided to developers willing to build low-income purpose-built rental units.
Opposition candidates are already raising concerns that the proposed measures do not go far enough to address housing unaffordability in the country’s major markets. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters Tuesday that the budget as it currently stands does not address Canada’s “housing crisis.”