Raising a down payment can be the trickiest part of buying in Vancouver’s hot market – but some programs may help, say mortgage experts Jorge and Alisa Aragon
Q: I really want to put in an offer on a condo, but I haven’t raised the full down payment amount yet? Do I have any options?
A:The minimum down payment required is 5 per cent of the purchase price of the home you are buying – if you are employed. For those who are self-employed, it will depend if you are qualifying based on what you are declaring on your income tax then it will be 5 per cent, and at least 10 per cent if you are self-employed and qualifying with an “estimated” gross income instead of the income showing on your tax return. And if you want to avoid paying mortgage default insurance, you need to have at least a 20 per cent down payment.
However, there are programs available that enable you to use other forms of down payment when you don’t have the full down payment.
- RRSPs: If you are a first-time home buyer, you can use up to $25,000 from your RRSP without paying any personal taxes. However, you will have to repay any amount withdrawn from your RRSP for down payment of a home purchase.
- Gift from a family member: You can get money gifted from a parent, child or sibling to go towards the down payment. The lender will ask that the person that is giving you the gift signs a letter stating that the funds are a gift and are not to be repaid.
- Borrowed down payment: You can borrow from a line of credit, get a loan or use your credit cards to complete your down payment. However, in order to qualify, you still have to be within the Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio. The TDS ratio measures your total debt obligations (including housing costs, loans, car payments and credit card bills). Generally speaking, your TDS ratio should be no more than 44 per cent of your gross monthly income.
Once you have raised the full down payment and made your offer, you will still need solid advice on which mortgage is best for you. By working with a mortgage expert, you have access to multiple lenders including banks, credit unions and other lenders that only work with brokers, which will ensure that they can find the best mortgage for your individual needs.