Home Buying

First Time Home Buyers Incentives in Nova Scotia

First Time Home Buyers Incentives in Nova Scotia
Written by
  • nesto
| Apr 21, 2022
Reviewed, Apr 18, 2024

Table of contents

    There are a range of incentives in place for first-time homebuyers in Nova Scotia. As one of the nation’s more affordable provinces, this might be the right choice for individuals looking to enjoy a mix of local culture, coastline, and the province’s unique history, all while saving money compared to other markets like Toronto (and the rest of Ontario), or Vancouver, for instance. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of the most widely available first-time homebuyer programs in Nova Scotia, plus some of the federal programs you could qualify for too.

    Key Takeaways

    • Nova Scotia has a number of programs in place for first-time homebuyers. These include the First-time Home Buyers Rebate, and the Down Payment Assistance Program.
    • Nova Scotians can combine both provincial and federal programs to help them save money on the cost of a new first home.
    • Nova Scotia may be a more accessible province for first time homeowners in Canada compared to major markets like Ontario and British Columbia.

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    Nova Scotia First-time Home Buyers Rebate Program

    Nova Scotia’s First-Time Home Buyers Rebate is a program for newly constructed homes in the province, providing up to $3,000 for an individual who is a first time homeowner, and who uses their new home as their primary place of residence. 

    The program is for newly constructed homes only, and does not include renovations or conversions from rentals to condominiums. A first-time home buyer is an individual who buys or builds a newly constructed home, and who has not owned and occupied a home in Canada in the last five years. Where applicable, a relation to the purchasing individual or co-owner occupying the new home, who has also not owned a home in Canada in the last five years, may qualify as a first-time home buyer and allow for the buyer to receive the rebate (so long as they meet the same eligibility standards). If a home has more than one owner, only one owner may apply for the rebate; this incentive is limited to one per household.

    You have 24 months to apply for the rebate from the date of sale or occupancy permit, depending on your situation. Finally, in terms of supporting documents, it depends on the specifics of your home and the land it is built on. These could include copies of building permits, a copy of your construction costs, your deed, or a copy of your purchase and sale agreement. To learn more, feel free to explore the Government of Nova Scotia’s overview.

    Nova Scotia Down Payment Assistance Program

    The Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) helps Nova Scotians with modest incomes who pre-qualify for an insured mortgage to buy their first home. Eligible buyers can apply to receive an interest-free repayable loan of up to five per cent of the purchase price of their home. The assistance loans can range between up to $10,000 and $25,000, are repayable over ten years, and must go toward the down payment (and not financing, closing, or other costs of a new home). Participants may also waive their payments in the first year. 

    To be eligible for this program:

    • The purchase price of the home cannot exceed $500,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and East Hants, $300,000 in the Northern and Eastern regions, or $375,000 in Annapolis Valley, West Hants, and the South Shore.
    • You must have credit rating satisfying to the Municipal Affairs and Housing (DMAH) and be pre-approved for an insured mortgage by a recognized financial institution.
    • You must be a first-time home buyer 
    • You must not have the financial ability to pay 5% of the purchase price of the property without assistance of the program.
    • Your household income must be less than $145,000
    • You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
    • You must have lived in Nova Scotia for at least 12 months before you apply
    • The property must be located in Nova Scotia
    • The property must be your principal residence

    Visit Housing Nova Scotia for official application forms, more detailed information about eligibility, and the exact documentation required in support of your application.

    DPAP Loan Amounts by Income/Location
    Total Household Income Maximum Loan Amount (Halifax Regional Municipality) Maximum Loan Amount
    (Rest of Province)
    $65,000 $14,000 $7,500
    $66,000 $13,300 $7,125
    $67,000 $12,625 $6,775
    $68,000 $12,000 $6,425
    $69,000 $11,400 $6,100
    $70,000 $10,825 $5,800
    $71,000 $10,300 $5,525
    $72,000 $9,775 $5,250
    $73,000 $9,300 $4,975
    $74,000 $8,825 $4,725
    $75,000 $8,400 $4,500

    Federal First-Time Home Buyer Programs

    As well as Nova Scotia’s provincial programs, there are a number of plans and incentives available at the federal level to help first-time homebuyers. Here are some of the federal home buyer plans available to residents of Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada.

    RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan

    The RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to take out up to $60,000 from your RRSP to put toward a downpayment on a home, which you would then repay over a 15 year period. To qualify, you must be a first time homebuyer who is a Canadian resident at the time you withdraw funds from your RRSP, and up to the time a qualifying home is either bought or built. You also have to occupy the home as your principal place of residence within the year after buying or building it. 

    First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

    As we mentioned earlier, the federal First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit (also known as the Home buyer’s amount) is also available for eligible first time homeowners. This incentive provides you and your spouse or common law partner up to $750 in tax rebates on the income you pay taxes on in the year you buy your home. 

    If you have a disability and you claim the Disability Tax Credit on your tax return, you can also claim the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit, even if you’ve already owned a home in the past. You will need to meet the following criteria, if this is the case:

    • You must claim the disability amount on your tax return in the same tax year that you purchase the home
    • The home must be suitable for the disabled person’s needs (ie your needs)
    • You have to occupy the home within one year of purchasing it

    GST/HST New Housing Rebate

    For new housing in Canada, the land transfer tax refund allows homebuyers to recoup some of the land-transfer tax paid after the first $368,000 on qualifying homes. To claim the refund, you must be over the age of 18, and have not owned a home or stake in a home prior to purchasing your property (including inherited properties). You must also intend to live in the property as your primary place of residence. The maximum refund is $4,000, and will be applied on qualifying homes over $368,000. For homes below that price, you would not pay any land transfer taxes. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions 

    How much do first time home buyers have to put down in Nova Scotia?

    Nova Scotians who cannot put down at least 5% may be eligible for the province’s Down Payment Assistance Program, as outlined above. 5% is the minimum amount you need to put down to buy a home in Canada where the purchase price is less than $500,000. Generally, the more you can put down up front on a new home, the lower your loan-to-value ratio will be, the lower your repayments will be in comparison to a lower down payment, and the more equity you will have built up front in your home from the day you move in. Additionally, mortgages with less than 20% down payment are legally required under Canadian law to be insured, which will add to your upfront costs.

    The benchmark price for single-family homes in Nova Scotia was $361,200 in February 2022, according to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors. A 5% downpayment would therefore be $18060. If you’re looking to learn more about downpayment in Nova Scotia, use our mortgage calculator.

    Can any resident qualify as a first-time home buyer in Nova Scotia?

    To qualify as a first-time homebuyer in Nova Scotia, you must be a resident of the province (in some cases for the last 12 months prior to your purchase, with some programs). You must not have owned a home or a partial stake in another property within the last five years prior to purchasing your home, and you must live in the property you purchase as your primary residence. Finally, the property must be located in the province of Nova Scotia. 

    Can any resident qualify for the down payment assistance program in Nova Scotia?

    To be eligible for the Down Payment Assistance Program, an individual needs to meet a number of criteria. You must have satisfactory credit and be pre-approved for an insured mortgage by a recognized financial institution. You must also be a first-time home buyer, have a household income less than $75,000, and be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. You must not have the financial ability to pay 5% of the purchase price of the property without the program’s assistance. You have to have lived in the province for 12 months prior to applying, and the property must also be located in the province. The purchase price of the home cannot exceed $300,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), or $200,000 in the rest of the province.

    Average Home Prices in Nova Scotia, February 2022
    Annapolis Valley $378,122
    Cape Breton $240,243
    Halifax-Dartmouth $590,943
    Highland Region $287,962
    Northern Nova Scotia $241,502
    South Shore $345,763
    Yarmouth $219,800

    Source: Nova Scotia Association of Realtors

    Final Thoughts

    Nova Scotia has seen record growth year-on-year in its housing market. Despite the fact that Nova Scotia is not as competitive for housing than provinces like Ontario and British Columbia, it can still seem daunting to some first-time home buyers here. However, fortunately there are a number of incentives and programs available for first-time home buyers at both the provincial and federal level. If you’re looking to buy your first home, explore the best mortgage rates in Nova Scotia, and look into all of the incentives available to you. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with one of our trained mortgage Advisors today.

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