Determining whether or not you should buy a home is a major decision. There are often many more costs involved than you might expect. Aside from saving for a down payment, you must factor in extras like moving costs, legal fees, and taxes – which can quickly add up and can make the process intimidating.

For first-time buyers, failing to budget for these can create great financial stress. But if you do your research, speak to the right financial experts, and understand all of the costs of owning a home, you should be ready to safely jump into home ownership.

We’ve put together a list of programs and incentives for first-time home buyers in BC, so that you can know (and apply for) all of the ways you can save money and even get rebates. Having this information can save further money in the home buying process, because you won’t need to retain a lawyer to check into all of your options for you.

5 Programs and Incentives for First-Time Home Buyers in BC

1. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)

The HBP is a program that allows you to withdraw funds from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan to buy or build your first home. The HBP allows you to repay withdrawn funds over a 15-year period.

You can withdraw funds from multiple RRSP accounts as long as you own each one. Your RRSP issuer will not withhold tax on withdrawals of less than $35,000 per year.

Do I Qualify?

  • You must be a first-time home buyer
  • You must have a written agreement to buy or build
  • You must be a resident of Canada when you withdraw funds from your RRSPs under the HBP, and up to the time a qualifying home is bought or built
  • You must intend to occupy the qualifying home as your principal place of residence within one year after buying or building it.

2. New Housing GST/HST Rebate

photo of a Miracon development of brand new homes

As it relates to new construction, this rebate allows the purchaser to recover a portion of the tax expenses on a qualified home. If the builder is crediting you directly, they must ensure that you meet all of the eligibility conditions for the rebate as listed below.

Do I Qualify?

  • You purchased a new or substantially renovated home, renovated mobile or floating home from a builder
  • You purchased a new or substantially renovated home from a builder where you leased the land from that builder under the same agreement to buy the home and the lease is a minimum of 20 years
  • Your home must be intended to be the primary place of residence for you or your relative upon purchase
  • The total price of the home before taxes is less than $450,000.

3. First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

Happy family with parents and two kids carrying moving boxes into a new home

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was developed to assist in making home ownership more affordable by reducing your monthly mortgage payments. This incentive is a shared equity mortgage with the government, and is overseen by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The incentive allows you to borrow up to 10% of the purchase price of a home. Repayment options occur when you sell your home or within a 25-year period and you repay the same percentage of its value at that time. The incentive must be paid in full – there is no partial payment option.

Do I Qualify?

  • You must be a first-time home buyer
  • You have not occupied a home that you or your current spouse/common-law partner owned in the last 4 years
  • You have recently experienced the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership
  • Your household income does not exceed $120,000

4. Home Buyers’ Tax Credit

happy couple discussing first-time home buyer tax credits with a Realtor

The Home Buyers Tax Credit is a federal non-refundable tax credit which encourages first-time home buyers to enter the real estate market by making it more affordable. The Home Buyers Tax Credit allows you to claim up to $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home.

When filing for the rebate, find line 31270 of your tax return and enter the $5000 amount. Be sure to split the amount if you are applying for the rebate with a spouse or common-law partner.

Most residential homes qualify for the HBTC: single-family, semi-detached, mobile homes, condos, apartments, homes under construction, as well as coop housing granting the right of ownership. You must move into the finished property within one year of the purchase closing date.

Be sure to keep all your documents in case the CRA asks to see them later.

Do I Qualify?

  • You are a first-time home buyer
  • Your home is in Canada and registered with the appropriate land registry office in your name
  • You or your spouse or common-law partner acquired a qualifying home

You did not live in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law

5. Property Transfer Tax

photo of little wooden houses with a large chalkboard that says "tax" on it

The First-Time Home Buyers Program, if qualified, can reduce or eliminate the amount of property transfer tax you pay on your first home. Property transfer tax is based on the purchase price of the home and is paid when the transaction closes.

Do I qualify?

  • Your property must be used as your principal residence
  • Your property must have a fair market value of $500,000 or less for the maximum rebate amount
  • You are a permanent resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen
  • You have never owned a registered property anywhere in the world at any time
  • Lived in B.C. for at least a year immediately before the date you register the property
  • Filed at least 2 income tax returns as a B.C. resident in the last 6 taxation years immediately before the registration date
  • Have never received a first-time home buyers’ exemption or refund
  • Be 1.24 acres or smaller

Many eligible, uninformed home buyers miss out on tax benefits and incentives geared towards their assistance. You may be surprised to find out who qualifies as a first-time home buyer, and how these programs can serve as a financial plus.

For a list of full exemptions and qualifications on the above rebates and programs speak to an industry professional and/or visit www2.gov.bc.ca.

Written By:

Kelly Pavicic

Kelly holds a BA from the University of British Columbia and carries more than 15 years of experience in the real estate and construction industry. As Project Coordinator, Kelly oversees customer care processes during and after construction, schedules reporting variances and acts as liaison among sales, the customers and stakeholders. Kelly also leads the Miracon social media campaign by engaging in conversations, and connecting with the community with the intent of building relationships.

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