For many people, saving enough for a down payment on a house is not an easy task. (You can’t rely on finding One-Eyed Willy’s treasure like they did in the Goonies movie, either!)
Once you have an idea as to how much you can afford on your home, relative to your salary and monthly costs, it’s time to get that down payment! For a starter home, a 5% down payment is often enough.
Your down payment can come from several sources, including your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a gift from immediate family, such as parents or grandparents.
The TFSA lets you save your extra cash for just about anything — including a new house— without paying any tax on the growth within the account or on withdrawals. Since the TFSA was introduced in 2009, it’s estimated that only around half of Canadians have opened one, so be sure to start yours today. Should you use your TFSA for your down payment, you pay no taxes on the withdrawal.
There are many clever ways to make the TFSA and RRSP work together to improve your wealth. Generally, RRSPs are a good choice for longer-term goals such as retirement, while TFSAs work better for more immediate objectives, such as a house down payment.
With the federal government’s Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP), you can use up to $25,000 of your RRSP savings ($50,000 for a couple) to help finance your down payment on a home. To qualify, the RRSP funds you’re using must be on deposit for at least 90 days. For first-time home buyers, taxes are not paid on withdrawals of your RRSP and the repayment period starts the second year after the year you withdrew funds.
Gifted Down Payment
A Gifted Down Payment is very common for first-time buyers. Often this is done because their son or daughter doesn’t quite have enough funds saved up for the full 5% down payment. Or, because they want to make sure their child has enough money to make up 20% for a down payment to avoid Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) premiums.
If you put down 20% or more on your down payment, it can all be a gift. If you put down less than 20%, part of the money can be a gift, but part must come from your own funds. This minimum contribution varies by loan type. You can only use gift money on primary residences and second homes.
All that is required for documentation is a signed Gift Letter from the parents, which states that the money does not have to be repaid, and a snapshot of the son or daughter’s bank account showing that the gifted funds have actually been transferred.
A gifted down payment is viewed as an acceptable form of down payment by almost all lenders. Talk to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage specialist to make sure that your lender accepts “gifts” as an acceptable down payment.