With the RRSP contribution deadline just over a month away, real estate brokerage Zoocasa has released a report that takes a hard look at how long it would actually take you to save for the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) in different cities across Canada.
Since its inception, the popular HBP has made it possible for qualifying buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 tax-free from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to put toward a home purchase or new build – an especially handy tool for those looking to purchase in a competitive market, such as Toronto or Vancouver.
Now, to be able to use the HBP it means you must actually have the RRSP funds saved in the first place, which isn't always easy, especially in cities like Toronto where incomes aren't in pace with housing prices or other inflationary pressures.
With this concept in mind, Zoocasa broke down how long it would actually take for individuals to save $35,000 for the HBP in cities across the country. To do this, the Canadian real estate brokerage said it analyzed individual income thresholds in 14 regions across Canada, based on 2017 tax filings from Statistics Canada.
The study found that for those earning median incomes across Canada, it would take between 4.3 – 6 years to save $35,000 for the HBP.
According to Zoocasa, it would take those looking to buy real estate in Ottawa the least amount of time to save due to the city’s strong public service and government sectors, where median incomes are higher than in other major regions at $44,700, making it possible for savers to set aside a maximum of $8,046 annually.
In contrast, it would take the longest amount of time to save in Toronto, where the median income is comparably lower at $32,600, allowing for a maximum RRSP contribution of $5,868.
However, someone in Toronto within the top 10% of earners making more than $101,700 could do the same in about 1.9 years.
Graph courtesy of Zoocasa
Zoocasa also calculated how far the $35,000 would go toward the total purchase price of a home in different Canadian cities, and as you can imagine it varies quite a bit.
Here in Toronto, someone who takes out the maximum tax-free $35,000 through the HBP would only have enough money to cover 4.3% of a new home. Although, this is slightly better than in Vancouver where the maximum $35,000 would only cover 3.5% of a new home.
In contrast, residents living in Regina would be able to cover 13.5% of a new home with the same amount of money.
Graph courtesy of Zoocasa
"While the federal government increased the maximum withdrawal limit to $35,000 for the HBP from the previous $25,000 in the 2019 budget, housing analysts have questioned whether this amount is enough to truly aid buyers in Canada's largest markets," wrote Zoocasa in the report.
"For example, assuming a home buyer has saved and accessed the maximum $35,000 from their RRSP, that would account for just 3.5% of a home purchase in Vancouver, and 4.3% of the benchmark price for Toronto real estate — less than the minimum 5 – 7.5% down payment required to purchase a home."
In other words, considering that the average cost of a home in the Greater Toronto Area inched closer to $1 million in 2o19, the Home Buyers' Plan is likely not going to make the difference you're looking for.