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CMHC’s First-time Home Buyers’ Incentive Program

CMHC’s First-time Home Buyers’ Incentive Program

In Budget 2019, the federal government announced that CMHC would deliver a shared-equity mortgage program called the First-time Home Buyer’s Incentive (FTHBI). CHBA has been recommending shared-equity mortgage programs for some time to provide a hand-up to those requiring housing assistance, especially those with solid regular income but falling just short of being able to access market-rate housing.  Such programs are a proven means to help families who otherwise would not be able to achieve the dream of homeownership, with all its benefits, including no longer requiring housing subsidies.

While CHBA is therefore pleased to see the  announcement of the FTHBI, the FTHBI alone will not have a broad enough impact to truly unlock the door to homeownership for the many tens of thousands of well-qualified first-time homebuyers that do deserve a fair shot at homeownership.  For more information on what CHBA is calling for to address housing affordability for Canadians, please visit

That said, FTHBI will indeed help a select group of first-time homebuyers, and here below is the latest information for members seeking info or wanting to help prospective buyers access the incentive.

Initial program details released

In late June, 2019, CMHC has released preliminary details on the FTHBI. The program is scheduled to open for applications on September 2, 2019, with the first closings on or after November 1, 2019. Initial details are available here.

Major criteria:

  • Homebuyers must still have the minimum down payment available to be eligible for this program.
  • The maximum qualifying family income is no more that $120 000.
  • The total amount to be borrowed cannot exceed 4 times the qualifying income.

If a homebuyer meets these criteria, they can apply for a 5 or 10 per cent shared equity mortgage with the Government of Canada.

Key details:

  • A 5 per cent shared equity is available for the purchase of a re-sale home.
  • Either a 5 or 10 per cent shared equity is available for the purchase of newly constructed home.
  • A 5 per cent shared equity is available for a new or resale mobile/manufactured home.
  • The incentive can be paid back at any time but must be paid back either after 25 years or when the house is sold.  The repayment amount is the same percentage is the shared-equity portion.
  • Down payments must come from traditional sources – savings, RRSP, gift from a relative.

CHBA Actions to Date

CHBA has provided, and will continue to provide feedback on the design of the FTHBI, calling for a seamless and familiar process for buyers and sellers, including pre-qualification, qualification at the time of the signing of the Purchase and Sale agreement and the application of OSFI guidelines, debt-to-income ratios and the stress test applied only to the homebuyer’s portion of the mortgage.

CHBA is also calling on CMHC and the Government of Canada to monitor the program results closely, and to be prepared to adjust the income and price cap to ensure first-time buyers can benefit from the program. CHBA has also noted to CMHC such issues as substantial renovations that will need to be addressed.

To date, the details of the FTHBI released reflect our input. CHBA will continue to monitor the rollout of the FTHBI and provide feedback to CMHC. However, CHBA does not anticipate that the FTHBI will reach the number of homebuyers forecast in Budget 2019 (indeed, more recent comments by CMHC suggest the same), and therefore CHBA will continue to call for other measures to unlock the door to homeownership for first-time homebuyers.