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The federal government has discontinued the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a much-criticized program aimed at improving housing affordability for new buyers that saw muted uptake in major markets.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the national housing agency, said in a statement on its website that the program was winding up, with no new or updated submissions to be accepted after midnight ET on March 21.

Applications resubmitted after that date will be subject to a manual review, with review requests to be submitted no later than midnight ET on March 25 and no new approvals to be granted after March 31.

Introduced in 2019, the Incentive was aimed at reducing monthly mortgage payments for qualified first-time buyers through a shared-equity scheme. It offered a contribution of 5% or 10% towards the purchase of a newly constructed home, and 5% of the purchase of a resale existing home or new/resale mobile or manufactured home.

Still, that shared-equity component, which meant the government would also benefit from the potential future sale of a home, proved unpopular with buyers, who would have to repay the Incentive either after 25 years or upon sale.

The program faced challenges from the off. In 2020, federal Conservative MPs Tom Kmiec and Stphanie Kusie slammed its cost and low levels of consumer interest, urging CMHC to topdeo the scheme,  after an annual report showed its uptake lagged far below projections.

Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) also criticized the Incentive at its 2022 summit, when vice chair Veronica Love said the scheme was “simply failing” with data showing participation in the program was less than a third of what the government had originally envisaged.

Between its launch in September 2019 and the end of March 2021, the program had seen  LESS THAN 10,000 sucessfull applicants across Canada with Edmonton and Calgary accounting for nearly 2,000 of that total.


Home improvement: Which projects boost your property value?
 May 9 2024     Posted by John C Filice

For many homeowners, home improvements aren't just about creating a more comfortable living space - they're also key to boosting property value. Here are the home improvement projects that offer the highest return on investment (ROI), and some helpful tips on balancing costs and benefits.

High-ROI Home Improvement Projects

Upgrading your kitchen can have a significant impact on your property's value. New cabinets, countertops, and appliances can refresh the space, making it more appealing to potential buyers. Kitchen renovations offer an average ROI of up to 70-80%. For cost-effective upgrades, consider minor changes such as replacing hardware or painting cabinets, which can still create a substantial visual impact.

Modernizing bathrooms, including fixtures, lighting, and tiling, can significantly boost value. Such projects can offer an ROI of up to 60-70%. To balance costs, consider reglazing tubs or replacing faucets, which provide an immediate facelift at a fraction of the cost.

Installing energy-efficient windows, doors, and appliances not only increases the immediate value of your home but also leads to long-term savings through lower energy bills. The ROI of these upgrades can be measured both in terms of immediate value increase and long-term savings.

Enhancing the exterior of your home through landscaping, painting, or installing new doors can significantly improve its curb appeal, offering an immediate visual impact. Such projects can yield an ROI of up to 90-100%.

Balancing Costs and Benefits

Deciding whether to take on a renovation yourself or hire a professional requires careful consideration of several factors. First, evaluate the complexity of the project. If it involves specialized skills, such as electrical or plumbing work, or significant structural changes, it may be safer and more efficient to hire a professional. Next, assess your own skills, time, and resources. Consider the potential for mistakes that could lead to higher repair costs down the line. You will also want to examine your budget; professional help may increase initial expenses, but can ensure quality work that adds lasting value to your home.

Start by setting a clear budget that reflects your goals, project scope, and current financial situation. Consider breaking down costs into categories, such as materials, labour, permits, and contingency funds for unforeseen expenses. For financing, explore options such as home equity loans or lines of credit, which leverage your home's existing equity for funds. Personal loans are another alternative, offering fixed interest rates and repayment terms. Comparing different financing options, understanding their terms, and aligning them with your renovation goals will ensure your project stays on track and within budget.

Choosing renovations that will add value to your home now and for years to come requires a strategic approach. Focus on projects that enhance both functionality and aesthetics. For instance, modernizing kitchens and bathrooms can create immediate appeal while remaining relevant over time. Additionally, consider energy-efficient upgrades, such as improved insulation, windows, and appliances, which not only lower energy bills now but also attract environmentally conscious buyers in the future. Curb appeal enhancements, like landscaping and exterior improvements, offer immediate visual impact and contribute to long-term value. This strategic combination of current appeal and enduring functionality can yield substantial returns for years to come.

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