<<< back to article list

Real Estate - How Buyers and Home Owners can save money

Blog by Rod & Rhea Hayes | November 1st, 2011

Wise real estate decisions are made when you have a clear understanding of your personal financial circumstances. When assessing your situation, it is important to know that there is a broad range of cost-saving programs available to help you.  

Home Buyers’ Plan: Registered Retirement Savings for down payments

Canada Revenue Agency’s Home Buyers' Plan lets qualifying home buyers use up to $25,000 of their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy a home. Couples can use up to $50,000. The home must be a principal residence, the home buyers must not have owned a home within the past five years and the loan must be repaid with 15 years.

Disabled home buyers upgrading to a more accessible home also qualify as do relatives helping disabled home buyers. Home buyers who have already used the plan and have fully repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the plan a second time.  

Canada Revenue Agency
For information:
Home Buyers' Plan


High ratio mortgages on green properties

CMHC offers a 10% refund on your mortgage loan insurance premium and an extended 35-year amortization period when you buy an energy-efficient home or make energy-efficient renovations. Your new home must be either R2000 certified, have an EnerGuide Rating of 80, or be built by a member of a CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program. For a Renovation, the pre and post renovation EnerGuide Evaluation must show at least a 5 point improvement, and have a minimum point total of 40. 

For information:
Green Home

CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient home or make energy savings renovations.

For information: 

CMHC Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP)

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and for the creation of secondary and garden suites.

For information: 

First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit

This is a non-refundable income tax credit for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation.

It’s calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2010) by $5,000. For the 2010 tax year, the maximum credit is $750.

Canada Revenue Agency
For information:

GST Rebate on New Homes

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000.

Canada Revenue Agency
For information:
GST-New housing rebate

BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT)

Home buyers in BC pay a provincial Property Transfer Tax (PPT) when they buy a home. The tax is charged at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 of the purchase price and 2% on the remainder.

First-time home buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional  exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. Buyers can’t have previously owned a home anywhere in the world. 

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue
For information:
Property Transfer Tax

BC Property Tax Deferment Programs

Families with children
Qualifying low-income home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Owners facing financial hardship
Qualifying low-income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue
For information:
Property tax deferment programs
and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.


BC Home Owner Grant

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,150,000.

For 2011, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,150,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,264,000+.

An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,150,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,319,000+.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue
For information: 
Home Owner Grant
Or contact your local municiple tax office.

BC New Housing Rebate (HST)

Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7%) of the 12% HST, paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250.

For information: 
New Housing Rebate  

 BC New Rental Housing Rebate (HST)

Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit.

For information: 
New Rental Housing Rebate 

HST Residential Energy Credit

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel will receive a provincial goverment point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST.

Home owners and landlords who buy energy not separately metered, for example, in a cooperative, and who don't receive the credit on their utility bill, can apply to the provincial government for the credit.

For information: 
Residential Energy Credit 

Federal ecoENERGY retrofit

ecoENERGY Retrofit for Homes provides home and property owners with grants of up to $5,000 to offset the cost of making energy-efficiency improvements that range from increasing insulation to upgrading a furnace.

Please note that the guidelines to this program changed effective March 31, 2010. Please click on the link to the right for more information.

Natural Resources Canada
For information:
ecoENERGY Retrofit – homes

LiveSmart BC - Efficiency Incentive Program

Home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes may qualify for cash incentives through this provincial program provided in partnership with Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) and BC Hydro. Rebates are for energy efficient products which replace gas and oil furnaces, pumps, water heaters, wood stoves, insulation, windows, doors, skylights and more. The LiveSmart BC program also covers $150 of the cost of a home energy assessment, directly to the service provider.

For information:
LiveSmart BC
1 866-430-8765
Or, go to Google and in the search box type in ‘Residential Energy Credit rebate program.’ It is the first item. 
1 877-388-4440

BC Residential Energy Credit

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel receive a BC government point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST.

For information: 
Energy credit

BC Hydro Mail-in Rebates/Savings Coupons

To save energy, BC Hydro offers rebates including 20% off instant online rebate on water, electricity and gas energy saving kits; 40% off instant online rebate on select energy save toilets; and 50% off instant online rebate on select water saving showerheads. Check for deadlines.

For information: 
BC Hydro - coupons

BC Hydro Appliance Rebates

Rebates for purchases of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, or freezers.

For information: 
BC Hydro - appliances

BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges in working condition.

For information: 
BC Hydro - fridge

BC Hydro Windows Rebate Program

Pay no HST when you buy ENERGY STAR high-performance windows and doors.

For information:
BC Hydro - windows
604-759-2759 for a free in-home estimate

City of Vancouver Solar Homes Pilot


For information: 
Solar Homes Pilot

City of Vancouver Rain Barrel Subsidy Program

The City of Vancouver provides a subsidy of 50% of the cost of a rain barrel for Vancouver residents. With the subsidy, the rain barrel costs $75. Buy your rain barrel at the Transfer Station at 377 W. North Kent Ave., Vancouver, BC. Limit of two per resident. Bring proof of residency.

For information: 
www.vancouver.ca, enter ‘rain barrel program’ in search box. 
Other municipalities have similar

Local Government Water Meter Programs

Your municipality may provide a program for voluntary water metering, so that you pay only for the amount of water that you use. Delta, Richmond and Surrey have programs and other municipalities may soon follow.

For information: 
Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘water meter’ to find out if there is a program.

Energy-Saver Mortgage

Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy efficient audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy SaverTMMortgage may qualify for a $300 rebate credited to their RBC account.

For information: 
RBC Energy-Saver Mortgage

Vancity Green Building Grant

In partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Vancity Credit Union provides grants up to $50,000 each to qualifying charities, not-for-profit organizations and co-operatives for building renovations/retrofits, regulatory changes that advance green building development, and education to increase the use of practical green building strategies.

For information: 
Vancity Green Building Grant

Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Rebate Program

A range of rebates for home owners include a $75 rebate on front-load washers; $50 rebates for upgrading a water heater; $150 rebate on an EnerChoice fireplace; $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas and installing an ENERGY STAR® heating system. Program on until Dec 31, 2011.

For information: 
Fortis BC
1 888-224-2710

Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Efficient Boiler Program

For commercial buildings, provides a cash rebate of up to 75% of the purchase price of an energy efficient boiler, for new construction or retrofits.

For information: 
Fortis BC
1 888-477-0777

Low Interest Renovation Loans

Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years for green’ renovations. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers 1% off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 renovation on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000.

For information visit your financial institution.
www.vancity.com/loans/brightIdeasand www.rbcroyalbank.com and in the search box enter ‘energy saver loan’.