5 First-Time Homebuyer Incentives Available in Nova Scotia

Here’s a look at some of the national and provincial financial incentives that can save you money when buying your first home.

By Emily Southey | 4 minute read

Oct 6

Interested in buying a home but aren’t sure how you’re going to afford it? Buying a home is a major financial decision, especially given that it’s one of the largest purchases you will ever make. While buying a home in Nova Scotia — whether it’s in Halifax or Dartmouth or anywhere in Canada for that matter — might seem out of reach, there are ways that you can alleviate the financial burden. First-time homebuyer incentives, like the Canada First-Time Buyer Incentive or The Homebuyers’ Plan, can make buying a home more affordable. Learn more about the top five incentives for first-time buyers in Nova Scotia below.

1. Canada’s First-Time Buyer Incentive

If you are a first-time homebuyer in Canada, be sure to take advantage of the Canada First-Time Buyer Incentive. Offered by the Federal Government of Canada, this incentive gives eligible buyers 5% of the purchase price of a resale home and 10% of the purchase price of a newly constructed home in the form of a loan. This loan can then be put toward the down payment. The only catch is that the property will be considered a shared investment between the buyer and the Government of Canada. As such, the buyer must agree to repay the investment made by the government in accordance with the fair market value of the property within 25 years of purchasing it (or when they decide to sell the property, whichever comes first). To be eligible for the Canada First-Time Buyer Incentive, you must meet the following set of criteria: 

    • Your total qualifying income cannot exceed $120,000.
    • The amount of money you borrow from a mortgage lender must not exceed four times your qualifying income.
    • You or your partner must be a first-time homebuyer.
    • You must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a non-permanent resident who is authorized to work in Canada.
    • You must be able to afford the minimum down payment using traditional funds, like savings, the withdrawal/collapse of an RRSP, or a non-repayable financial gift from a relative/immediate family member.

“The Government of Nova Scotia also offers a Down Payment Assistance Program to qualifying residents.”

2. Nova Scotia’s First-Time Home Buyers Rebate Program

The provincial government offers a First-Time Home Buyers Rebate Program to all qualifying first-time homebuyers. The rebate equals 18.75% of the provincial portion of the HST or 1.31% of the purchase price of the home, up to a maximum of $3,000. This program was specifically designed for buyers purchasing newly constructed homes. 

To qualify for this incentive, you must be a first-time homebuyer who has not owned and occupied a home in Canada in the last five years. Further, you must meet the following criteria to be eligible for Nova Scotia’s First-Time Home Buyers Rebate Program: 

    • The newly constructed home must be used as your primary residence.
    • The newly constructed home must be used as the primary residence of a relative (someone related to you by blood or marriage, including common law relationships).
    • The home owner and/or relation that will occupy the newly constructed home qualify as a first-time home buyer.

3. Nova Scotia Down Payment Assistance Program

The Government of Nova Scotia also offers a Down Payment Assistance Program to qualifying residents. Specifically, you must pre-qualify for an insured mortgage and you must be purchasing your first-ever home. Assuming you are eligible, you can receive an interest-free loan of up to 5% of the purchase price of the property (to a maximum of $25,000), which must be repaid over the course of ten years. Further, the loan must be put toward the down payment on the home and cannot cover other costs, like legal fees, mortgage payments, or closing costs. To be eligible for the Nova Scotia Down Payment Assistance Program, you must meet the following criteria: 

    • The homebuyer must have a credit rating satisfactory to Municipal Affairs and Housing (DMAH) and be pre-approved for an insured mortgage by a recognized financial institution.
    • You must be a first-time homebuyer.
    • Your total household income cannot exceed $145,000.
    • You must be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status.
    • You must have lived in Nova Scotia for at least 12 months.
    • You must not have the financial ability to pay 5% of the purchase price of the property without the assistance of this provincial program.
    • You must purchase a property that is located in Nova Scotia, will be your principal residence, is not permanently affixed to another property owned by the buyer, and does not exceed the maximum purchase price for your designated region.

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4. Canada’s Homebuyers’ Plan

The Canada Homebuyers’ Plan (HBP) provides Canadian first-time buyers with the opportunity to withdraw funds from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a home. Currently, the maximum amount that eligible buyers can withdraw from their RRSP is $35,000, and all funds withdrawn must be repaid within 15 years from the date of withdrawal.

5. First Home Savings Account

A first home savings account (FHSA), created by the Government of Canada and available as of April 1, 2023, is a registered savings account that allows prospective first-time homebuyers to save up for their homes tax-free. The FHSA was designed to make it easier and quicker for first-time buyers to be able to purchase homes. These accounts allow for annual contributions of $8,000, up to a maximum lifetime contribution of $40,000. FHSAs can remain open for a maximum of 15 years and until the end of the year that you turn 71 years old. Anyone who is a Canadian resident, 18 years of age or older, and a first-time homebuyer can open a First Home Savings Account.

Emily Southey

Wahi Writer

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