First Time Buyers

The HOME Program - As a first time buyer you may qualify for down payment assistance

Program Details Print E-mail

Program Overview:

The program weaves together five elements to address obstacles faced by households working to become home owners; these are detailed below.

Individual Support and Advocacy
Downpayment Matching
Underwriting Assistance
Ongoing Support



The Affordable HomeOwnership Education Workshops will cover topics that the potential home owner will need to be aware of and understand prior to purchasing a home.  Topics to be included:

  • Are you ready for homeownership? (is this right for you?)
  • Affordability - Budgeting, now and as a homeowner
  • Credit Rating and Debts
  • Finding a Home
  • Finance - Mortgages, mortgage process
  • Closing
  • Being a Homeowner - utilities, repair, maintenance, etc.

This education component is divided into the following parts:

           A.  Session 1: Preparing for HomeOwnership

This session is open to everyone. Attendance is on a first-come-first serve basis but advanced registration is required. The session is intended to provide an overview of homeownership and affordability issues. Following this session you should know what the next appropriate step should be if you wish to achieve homeownership. Individual counseling is available in the areas of credit, financing, and savings assistance. You will have the opportunity to continue with the rest of the program which is required to establish eligibility for special downpayment assistance and other related programs.


          B.  Session 2: Obtaining a Mortgage, Shopping for a Home & Closing

Participation in these sessions requires advanced registration. Program counselors will review your eligibility for the program and selection may be based on predetermined financial criteria. These sessions will continue the review of topics covered in Session 1, and go on to address all other aspects and stages of purchasing a home. This four hour session is offered on a Saturday. There currently is no cost for these sessions.


The HOME Program tries to tailor the program to your individual concerns and barriers.
The focus is to develop plans with you to address various obstacles, such as poor credit history or lack of a down payment, and to help you pre-qualify for a mortgage. When you complete both education sessions a discussion can be scheduled with the Program or Financial Coordinator to address your specific needs. Ongoing programs are run throughout the year, and currently include financial literacy and credit workshops. New workshops will be developed as needed. 


As a starting point in addressing barriers to homeownership, The Program can work to assist with down-payments. The Alberta Real Estate Foundation and local participating REALTORS have teamed up to create a revolving fund for this purpose. Once having completed the education component and demonstrated to the program they are ready to transition into home ownership participants are eligible for financial assistance.


The next program now being piloted by The HOME Program is in the area of mortgage underwriting and the criteria used by CMHC and financial institutions in qualifying individuals. The pilot program is being structured to allow individuals to be reviewed on a case by case basis instead of the current automated systems now in use. The HOME Program will continue to follow up with participants of this program to demonstrate that the risk to financial institutions is actually lowered when a person is educated and supported.


The Program has ongoing support in a number of areas. The program coordinator will follow-up with those who are working on credit repair and savings programs to assist them in meeting their objectives. Resources and information on home maintenance will be offered to those who have successfully purchased a home. In addition to individual support networking with other program participants, and new homeowners is encouraged.

First-time buyers plan: 8 steps to buying smart

Navigating the world of Canadian home buying

Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford.

Falling in love with a house you can’t afford can be heartbreaking. Avoid disappointment by figuring out your budget before you start looking.
  • First, decide how much you can afford for your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan lets you withdraw up to $25K per person (or up to $50K per couple) from your RRSPs – tax-free – to be repaid over 15 years. More on that here . The bigger your down payment, the less principal you will owe, and the less interest you will pay.
  • Don’t forget about closing costs, like insurance, legal fees, home inspection costs, land registration and land transfer fees. Add those to your moving expenses and service hookup fees, and they can add up surprisingly fast.
  • Your monthly housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, heat, etc.) shouldn’t use up more than 32% of your income. (If your combined monthly income is $5000, for example, 32% of that is $1600.) If you have car payments or credit card debt, the rule of thumb is that debt repayment shouldn’t be more than 40% of your income.
  • Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It’s a good way of finding out how much you can borrow – and it speeds up the process once you’ve found the home you want to buy.

Step 2: Figure out what type of home is right for you.

Sit down and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Be realistic, but be clear about the features you can’t live without. How many bedrooms do you need? Bathrooms? Do you want a home office? A garage? How about a big backyard? Hardwood floors? Eat-in kitchen? Consider your lifestyle and your stage of life. If you’re planning kids in a year or two, the studio loft might not be your best bet.

Step 3: Decide where you want to live.

Living in an area you like is as important as buying a home you love. Do you want a busy urban lifestyle, a house in the ‘burbs, or a quiet place in the country? Do you want to walk to work or are you okay with a longer commute? Do you need to be close to good schools? Rec facilities? Shopping?

Step 4: Start looking.

Go to open houses. Visit Check the classifieds. Drive around neighbourhoods you like looking for For Sale signs. Talk to your REALTOR® about your needs and start looking at properties.

Step 5: Build a team.

Put together the right group of experts to help you buy. Start with a REALTOR® you trust, then look for a reputable lender or mortgage broker, a lawyer (or a notary in Quebec), a home inspector and an insurance broker. Your REALTOR® works closely with all of these professionals, and will be happy to recommend people you can depend on.

Step 6: Make an offer.

You’ve found the perfect place – now it’s time to make an offer. An offer to purchase includes the purchase price you’re offering, chattels to be included in the purchase (like appliances or light fixtures), the amount of the deposit, the closing date and any other conditions.

Your REALTOR® will help you prepare your offer, and will present it to the vendor, who will either accept it or make a counter offer (which asks for a higher price or different terms). You can accept or reject the counter offer. If everyone agrees, the home is yours. If not, you can make another offer, or you may have to keep looking.

Step 7: Get a mortgage.

Once you’re approved, you’ll need to decide what type of mortgage works best for your needs. Will you go with a fixed or variable interest rate? Will your mortgage be closed or open? What will your amortization period be? Will you make payments monthly, biweekly or weekly? Your mortgage broker or lender can help you find a mortgage that suits your needs – and saves you the most money in the long term.

Step 8: Move in and enjoy!

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