Morgan: Tough market for first time home buyers

Among the economic doom and gloom, the B.C. government has implemented a program to help assist first time-home buyers achieve their goal.

Now that 2012’s real estate market has come to a government-induced soft landing to start the new year, first-time home buyers are beginning to feel the pressure.

Implementing Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s imposed mortgage rules last July is clearly the culprit for the Canada-wide housing sale cool down, but the Canadian government feels that the rules are doing their job well.

The government has expressed concern that Canadian households were taking on too much debt, with interest rates at an all-time low, and felt that first-time homeowners are primarily the victim of over spending and acquiring a consequential amount of debt.

With the tightening on mortgage qualifications, first-time home buyers are having more difficulty in obtaining an insured mortgage and therefore avoiding substantial debt. “Less demand, lower prices, modestly, in the housing market are much better for Canadians than a boom followed by a bust,” said Flaherty.

“The housing market has softened somewhat in part because of steps that I’ve taken and I’m happy about that.”

In a recent survey of Canada for the month of December, a mere 17.5 per cent of sales were first-time home buyers.

However, among all the recent doom and gloom, our B.C. government has implemented a program to help assist first time-home buyers achieve their goal of homeownership.

The program is called First Time New Home Buyer Bonus and it allows for a savings up to $10,000.

The credit works out to five per cent of the home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $10,000, but it is only applicable to newly built homes. If you purchase a new home prior to March 31, 2013, you will receive this kick-back as an income tax credit.

Also available is a First-Time Home Buyers’ Program for exemption from the property transfer tax. As long as you meet all of the initial eligible criteria and follow through with requirements which must be met in the year following the transfer, buyers can benefit from this program as well.

It’s easy for first-time home buyers to be ruled by their emotions when their dream of buying a home is within their financial grasp, but it’s important to also be educated on what is personally affordable before taking the plunge and becoming “mortgage poor.”

Ceinwen Morgan has worked in the Okanagan real estate industry for the past five years.