Buying a home for the first time can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. One of the most important decisions you will make is how much money to put down as a down payment. The down payment is the money you pay upfront to purchase a home. It is usually expressed as a percentage of the total home price. In this blog, we will discuss some down payment strategies for first-time home buyers.

Saving for a down payment

The most common way to save for a down payment is to set aside a portion of your monthly income. This can take time, but it is the most straightforward and flexible option. Consider cutting expenses, getting a second job or finding ways to earn extra money towards your down payment.

Using a gift from a family member

If you have family members willing to help with your down payment, you can ask them for a gift. This can be a great way to get the money you need for a down payment without taking on additional debt.

Using a grant or loan from a government program

Several government programs offer grants or loans to first-time home buyers to help with the down payment. These programs typically have income limits and other qualifications, so research the requirements before applying.

Using a “flex-down” mortgage

Some mortgage programs allow you to borrow the necessary down payment to buy a home. Typically, young professionals with decent incomes and credit are the ideal candidates. This is because the down payment funds are borrowed from a financial institution, and the monthly loan payment is added to the debt responsibility, negatively affecting mortgage affordability.

First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) is a program introduced by the Government of Canada in 2019 to help make it more affordable for first-time home buyers to purchase a home. The program provides a shared equity mortgage with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which reduces the amount of the mortgage that the home buyer needs to finance. The FTHBI is available to first-time home buyers with a household income of $120,000 or less, and the home must be located in Canada. It must be the borrower’s principal residence. The program is designed to help reduce the burden of a large down payment and make it easier for first-time home buyers to enter the housing market. It is an excellent way for first-time home buyers to access more affordable mortgage financing and take the first step towards homeownership.

Down Payment Assistance Programs

Down payment assistance programs in Canada are designed to help first-time home buyers with the often-challenging task of saving for a down payment. These programs can take the form of grants, loans, or a combination of both and are typically offered by the government or non-profit organizations. Some examples of these programs include the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), which allows first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to use as a down payment, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) which offers a 5% down payment loan to eligible home buyers. These programs can make the dream of homeownership more attainable for many Canadians and are often a valuable resource for those looking to enter the housing market.

Regional Down Payment Assistance Programs

In addition to national down payment assistance programs, there are also a variety of regional programs available in Canada that can help first-time home buyers with the cost of a down payment. These programs are typically offered by provincial and territorial governments or local municipalities. They can vary widely regarding the amount of assistance provided and the eligibility requirements. Some examples of regional programs include The Region of Niagara offers a program called the Homeownership Assistance Program (HAP) which provides financial assistance for eligible low-income households towards purchasing a home. The program offers a forgivable loan of up to $4,000 for the down payment and closing costs.

Additionally, The City of St. Catharines also offers a program called the Home Ownership Program which provides eligible first-time home buyers with a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 for the down payment and closing costs. These programs are designed to help low-income households overcome the financial barriers to homeownership in the Niagara Region. They are typically offered in partnership with local housing providers and financial institutions. These programs can be an excellent resource for first-time home buyers looking to purchase a home in Niagara. They can help make the dream of homeownership more attainable.


Ultimately, your chosen down payment strategy will depend on your financial situation and goals. It’s important to research and speak with a mortgage professional before deciding. With the right approach, you can make your dream of homeownership a reality.

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