British Columbia

Shared equity mortgage not much help for homebuyers in pricey Vancouver, says realtor

The federal government's attempt at helping first-time home buyers enter real estate markets across the country is getting the thumbs down from a Vancouver real estate agent.

Realtor says grant could benefit those looking to buy in suburbs

The so-called shared equity mortgage plan was announced in this week's federal budget. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The federal government's attempt to help first-time home buyers enter the real estate market won't help many would-be homebuyers in the pricey Vancouver market, a realtor says.

"I think it's more window dressing than anything," said Steve Saretsky, realtor and author of real estate blog, Vancity Condo Guide.

The so-called shared equity mortgage plan was announced in this week's federal budget.

It would apply to first-time buyers whose household income is less than $120,000 per year. It works like an interest-free loan where a would-be buyer is able to pay a five-per-cent down payment, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) would kick in up to 10 per cent of the value of a newly-built home or five per cent of the value of a resale.

In addition to those stipulations, the program caps out at four times the applicant's annual income, which means it can only help homeowners looking to buy properties where the mortgage value plus the CMHC loan don't exceed $480,000.

"There's not a whole lot under $500,000 at least in the city of Vancouver," Saretsky said.

"But this might do more to maybe stimulate the outlying areas maybe in the suburbs where where you can get a condo."

A search of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's listings website, realtylink.org on Wednesday showed 135 listings — including houses, condos and townhomes — in Vancouver for less than $500,000, 115 in Burnaby, 24 in Port Moody. In Abbotsford there were 346 properties listed for less than $500,000.

Details scarce

Zaheed Valli-Hasham, a mortgage broker with Dominion Lending, said he went through his data from 2018 and doesn't think the shared equity plan would have helped a lot of his clients.

"Approximately six per cent of my clients from 2018 could have benefited from this program," Valli-Hasham said.

"So, in my particular business, just to put things into perspective, it wouldn't have been a big big chunk of my clients."

He and Saretsky say they haven't fielded many calls from would-be buyers inquiring about the plan, which is just as well because details on the implementation are scarce.

The federal government has said more details are coming, but it's expected applications will be accepted starting in September.

with files from Pete Evans

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