Helping Home Buyers Navigate Government Funding Programs

When helping clients buy or sell a home, you want to do everything you can to help them get into the property of their dreams.

Part of that process can include advice on what government programs they may be eligible for—rebates, incentives, tax credits and other options. Knowing and understanding these programs can help REALTORS® like you improve your own business while best serving your clients.

We don’t expect you to be experts on everything, but Canadian home buyers have learned to rely on REALTORS® as trusted advisors, so it’s important you stay up to date on programs which could impact your clients.

The full range of programs across the country can vary from province to province and rely on factors specific to each client’s individual situation, such as whether they’re a first-time home buyer. This isn’t intended to reflect every option out there, we’ve compiled a list of some popular programs you can explore, providing a launchpad for you to guide your clients.

There are new federal, provincial and municipal programs popping up every year. In some cases, the government will indicate an update online. Information can become swiftly outdated so it’s always good to check.

Federals programs for home buyers

The Government of Canada offers several rebates and incentives to home buyers, which you can learn more about on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website.

With the first-time home buyer incentive, for example, buyers can find out if they qualify for a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada that in some cases could mean up to 10% funding.

Other Government of Canada programs include:

  • the Home Buyers’ Amount, which offers a $5,000 non-refundable tax credit;
  • the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), which allows home buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from registered retirement savings (RRSPs);
  • the GST/HST New Housing Rebate, through which buyers can recoup part of the GST or HST they paid on the purchase price or build;
  • and Canada Greener Homes Loan, which helps Canadians reduce their energy bills while improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

CREA has long advocated on the Home Buyers’ Plan for first-time buyers to better assist Canadians in achieving their dream of homeowners.

Most recently CREA has been a strong advocate on addressing the lack of housing supply in Canada which requires a coordinated effort. As such, we have recommended the federal government should convene a permanent national housing roundtable which will bring together federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal authorities along with stakeholders in the housing continuum.

We also recommend the federal government use the infrastructure bilateral agreement between infrastructure Canada and provincial/territorial partners as an opportunity to encourage the creation of more housing supply. Read our full list of recommendations in our 2022 Pre-Budget Submission.

Provincial and municipal programs offer incentives

Across the country, provinces and municipalities are offering programs and financial incentives related to energy efficiency for homes and this includes electric and gas utilities.

In British Columbia, for example, the Home Renovation Rebate provides incentives to help reduce energy costs through energy-efficient upgrades. There’s also a Home Energy Savings Program available in Newfoundland and Labrador to assist with retrofits. The municipality of Lethbridge, Alberta offers a SunRidge BuiltGreen Homeowner Rebate.

There are many other programs offered by various municipalities across the country.

Home renovation rebates and tax credits require reading the fine print (of course) and properly appraising the client.

As the Government of Canada pushes toward a greener future, more programs are expected to be added in the coming years. The pandemic has also impacted housing considerations with an increased desire on space, safety and abilities to work remotely.

Land transfer taxes for home buyers are one of the fees associated with purchasing a property (as the client pays for that property and the land it’s on) and it can impact closing costs. They vary from province to province and have different names. While Alberta and Saskatchewan don’t have a land transfer tax, buyers are subject to a title transfer fee which is relatively low. In Quebec, it’s known as the Welcome Tax. Your clients can use the Land Transfer Tax Calculator on REALTOR.ca to estimate the potential cost.

First-time home buyers can reduce their land transfer taxes in some provinces. For example, land transfer tax refunds for first-time home buyers in Ontario detail requirements to qualify for the refund. Rebates for these buyers are offered in Ontario, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. First-time buyers in Toronto can also apply for a rebate for newly constructed and resale residential properties.

There are also programs tied to age of the homeowner that can impact housing costs after a purchase. For example, the Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program in Alberta is geared to seniors and allows them to defer residential property taxes though a loan.

While your clients may be able to do a lot of their own homework on incentives and programs online, as REALTORS®, it’s important to stay up to date on current financial aid available in your area as an enhanced service to your clients.

The article above is for information purposes and is not legal or financial advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.


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