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  • Writer's pictureNeil Joseph

Exploring Downpayment Assistance programs for Homebuyers

Downpayment assistance programs for home buyers

Are you caught between the desire for homeownership and the reality of limited savings? If so, you're not alone. Many individuals and families face this challenge, especially in today's real estate market where home prices continue to rise faster than savings can keep up.

While the First Time Home Buyer Incentive from the Canadian Federal government has been discontinued, there are innovative solutions available from private entities to help bridge this gap and turn your dream of homeownership into a reality. Let's delve into how downpayment assistance or equity sharing programs work and whether they might be the right fit for you.


How Does it Work?

These programs function by investing in your home by contributing towards the down payment, typically up 20% of the purchase price.  In return, the program provider receives an equity share or proportionate ownership in the home. The ownership share is based on the proportion of downpayment contributed by you and the program provider.  This means that when you eventually sell the home, the proceeds are divided according to each party's ownership share. The key distinction from a traditional loan is that this contribution is not a loan – there is no interest, and you don't have to pay it back directly. Instead, the home itself repays the investment when it's sold.


Is this for You?

These programs are designed to assist individuals and families who have the income to support a mortgage but lack the savings for a full down payment. To qualify, you typically need to meet certain criteria such as being a citizen or permanent resident, purchasing the home as your principal residence, and being pre-approved for a mortgage. It's essential to assess whether you meet these requirements and whether the program aligns with your homeownership goals.


How is it Different from a Loan?

Unlike loans, these programs do not involve monthly payments or accrue interest. You're not obligated to repay the investment directly – instead, the repayment occurs when the home is sold. This can alleviate some of the financial pressure associated with traditional loans and provide more flexibility for homeowners.


How Does the Program Provider Make Money?

The program provider typically earns revenue through two primary channels. Firstly, they benefit from the appreciation in the value of the homes they co-invest in. When the home is sold, they receive their share of the equity based on the initial investment.

Secondly, they may charge management fees to investors, who invest their funds into the program and which in turn funds your downpayment. These fees contribute to the sustainability of the program and allow investors to diversify their real estate investments without taking on the responsibilities of property management.


Who is responsible Renovations and Home Maintenance?

As a homeowner, you're responsible for maintaining the property. However, some programs offer complimentary home maintenance services to help you stay ahead of any issues. When it comes to renovations, you typically have the freedom to make minor changes at your discretion. For major updates, you may need to inform the program provider in advance.


What happens if the value of the home decreases?

In case the home depreciates in value, the program provider typically shares in the losses, and you're not held personally liable. If you decide to sell the home, the proceeds are distributed according to each party's equity share. Additionally, you may have the option to buy out the program provider's share of the home at any point during the co-ownership term, subject to certain guidelines.


What kinds of properties are eligible?

Such programs typically support various types of homes, including condominiums, townhouses, and single-family detached homes. However, there may be restrictions on the types of properties eligible for co-investment, such as pre-construction properties or fixer-upper homes.


Who is responsible for Closing costs?

When purchasing the home, you're responsible for covering all closing costs, except for the program provider's share of the land transfer tax.


One of the key advantages of these programs is the flexibility they offer. You're free to sell the home whenever you choose within the agreed-upon term, providing you with greater control over your homeownership journey.


In conclusion, down payment assistance programs can be valuable tools for individuals and families looking to overcome the hurdle of saving for a down payment. By partnering with a program provider, you can access the benefits of homeownership while sharing the risks and rewards of property ownership. As with any financial decision, it's crucial to conduct thorough research, assess your eligibility and suitability, and consult with professionals to determine the best path forward for your unique circumstances. With the right support and guidance, owning a home may be closer within reach than you think.


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