Skip to main content

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

Your web browser is out-of-date. For the best experience, please update to a modern browser like Chrome, Edge, Safari or Mozilla Firefox.

Freedom 55 Financial is a division of The Canada Life Assurance Company and the information you requested can be found here.

Are you a member of the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) and looking for information about your benefits with Canada Life? Get details on the PSHCP Member Services website.

Oct 2021 – 15 min read

Buying your first home can be an exciting time – but also an expensive one. To help Canadians with the costs of first-time ownership, the federal government launched the first-time home buyer incentive (FTHBI) in 2019. 

Provided by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the program offers eligible homebuyers a shared-equity mortgage with the Canadian government. This means the government offers interest-free loans of up to 10% of the purchase price, and in return, they share in any gains or losses of the property value.

With the FTHBI, first-time buyers can reduce their monthly mortgage payments and enjoy substantial savings over time. The amount you could receive depends on the property type you’re planning to purchase1.

Property type
FTHBI Amount
A newly built home
5% or 10%
An existing (resale) home


A new mobile or prefabricated (prefab) home


An existing mobile or prefabricated (prefab) home


As the FTBHI is a loan and not a grant, you’ll need to pay it back. You’ll pay back CMHC either when you sell your home or in 25 years, whichever comes first. As with all loans, there a few things to think about when deciding whether to opt for the FTBHI.

  •  You can use the FTBHI to purchase a range of different properties, as long as it’s your primary residence and not an investment property.
  • As the FTBHI is like a second mortgage on the home, your lawyer might ask for more in closing fees when finalizing the sale.
  • There’s no penalty if you want to pay the incentive back early.
  • Choosing this government program might rule you out of being able to use other grants or incentives available at provincial or municipal level.Opens in a new window

To be considered a ‘first-time’ homebuyer, you must not have bought a home before, and must not have lived in a home that you or your current spouse/partner has owned in the last 4 years. You’re also considered a first-time buyer if you’re buying after the breakdown of a marriage or common-law partnership.

In addition to this, there’s other government criteria you’ll need to meet before you can apply:

  • You have a combined annual income of less than $120,000
  • You have a down payment of at least 5% of the property’s value
  • Your mortgage is more than 80% of the property’s value
  • Your mortgage is a maximum of 4 times your qualifying income
  • The property you want to buy qualifies for mortgage insurance
  • You’re a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or a non-permanent resident with permission to work in Canada
  • You’re buying a home in CanadaOpens in a new window, and plan to live in it all year round

You could use the FTHBI towards the purchase of your property, provided it is a:

  • Detached house
  • Semi-detached house
  • Duplex, triplex, or fourplex
  • Freehold townhouse
  • Condo townhouse
  • Condo apartment
  • A mobile or prefabricated home

Before you close on your property, it’s important to factor in repaying your FTHBI loan.

One key thing to remember is that when you repay your loan, you pay back the same percentage you borrowed, not the same amount.

For example, if you borrowed 5% of your property value through the FTHBI, you’ll need to pay back 5% of the property’s price when you sell it, regardless of whether that’s a higher or lower sum than you originally borrowed.

The FTHBI is one of many other programs for first time home buyers, such as the RRSP home buyer planOpens in a new window and First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.

Related articles