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Understanding Mortgage Choices for New Homebuyers in the Edmonton Real Estate Market
By Jason Hafso, Accredited Buyer's Representative, MaxWell Challenge Realty

Hey there, future homeowners! Buying a home in Edmonton or surrounding areas? One of the first things you'll need to understand is mortgages. Let's break down the options available so you can make an informed decision.

Fixed-Rate vs. Variable-Rate Mortgages

Fixed-Rate

With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate stays the same for the entire loan term. This option provides stability and is often favored by first-time homebuyers.

Variable-Rate

In a variable-rate mortgage, the interest rate may change based on market conditions. If you're comfortable with some risk, this could save you money in the long run.

Open vs. Closed Mortgages

Open Mortgage

An open mortgage offers flexibility, allowing you to pay off your loan at any time without penalties.

Closed Mortgage

A closed mortgage has restrictions on how much you can pay off yearly. However, they usually come with lower interest rates.

Down Payment

The down payment is your initial investment and typically ranges from 5% to 20%. In Edmonton, many first-time buyers opt for the minimum down payment to get into the market sooner.

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved gives you a ballpark figure of the mortgage you can afford. It's a valuable tool when house hunting in competitive markets like Edmonton.

First-Time Home Buyer Grants and Incentives

CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive helps new buyers by giving them extra money for their down payment. It aims to make buying a home easier and also encourages builders to make more homes. You can get 5% of the home's value for an older home or 5-10% for a new one. This is an interest-free loan, but you need to pay it back when you sell the house or within 25 years. The payback amount will depend on how much your home is worth at that time.

First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)

The First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit lets new buyers in Canada get some money back on their taxes. They can claim up to $10,000, which translates to a $1,500 tax credit. Even though it's not a huge amount, it's pretty easy to apply for and get.

Home Buyers' Plan (HBP)

Another valuable program is the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP), allowing you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSPs tax-free to buy or build a qualifying home. If you’re buying with a partner who's also a first-time buyer, they can withdraw the same amount, potentially doubling your down payment.

The Tax-Free First Home Savings Account (FHSA)

The FHSA is a special savings account for your first home. You can put in up to $8,000 each year and get tax benefits on that money. The most you can save in this account over time is $40,000. If you don't use up the full $8,000 in a year, you can add it to next year's limit.

Mortgage Loan Insurance

If your down payment is less than 20%, you'll be required to get mortgage loan insurance. While this adds to your cost, it's also what enables you to buy a home with a smaller down payment.

In the dynamic Edmonton real estate market, understanding your mortgage options is crucial. Whether you're eyeing a downtown condo or a family home in a surrounding community, make sure you're financially prepared.

Looking for more advice on buying a home in Edmonton and surrounding areas? Contact Jason Hafso, your local Accredited Buyer's Representative at MaxWell Challenge Realty.

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Smart ways to save for a house or condo

(NC) With Canada’s housing market hotter than ever, saving up a down payment can feel impossible. But wise spending and saving decisions can add up over time. Here, Vanessa Bowen, money expert and accountant, offers simple yet effective ways to save for the home you’ve had your eye on.

Ensure you have a good credit score
A better credit score means that you can qualify for lower interest rates and loans that you may require when investing in a future property. Working to improve your overall credit score, such as by avoiding late bill payments, will help make your savings go further as you look towards purchasing the house or condo of your dreams.

Contribute lump-sum payments to your savings
Large annual payments such as a work bonus or your tax return can be added as lump-sum contributions to your savings. Contributing larger sums helps you reach your end-goal more quickly, so remember to save these payments. It’s money you don’t count on in your day to day anyway, so it’ll be easier to set aside and watch your savings steadily grow.

Switch to a no-fee bank account
A small step that you can take that will add up to big savings in the long run is switching to a no-fee bank account. The PC Money Account is the bank account reimagined with no monthly fees and opportunities to earn PC Optimum Points on every dollar spent everywhere you shop. Now, instead of having to pay monthly banking fees, you can put your hard-earned money towards saving up for a house or condo.

Cut down on unnecessary spending
Try cutting back on expenses such as takeout food and shopping for things you may not actually need, like subscription services. Instead, put this money, which could potentially add up to thousands each year, towards a significant investment opportunity, such as a future home.

 
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