The Nova Scotia government is expanding eligibility for its down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers.
The program provides eligible homebuyers with an interest-free repayable loan of up to five per cent of the purchase price of their first home.
In a release Monday, the province said the changes include increasing eligibility for the total maximum market value of homes to qualify for the program.
In Halifax Regional Municipality, the purchase price of the home is now capped at $500,000, up from $300,000.
In northern and eastern regions — including Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish, Guysborough and Cape Breton — as well as the Yarmouth region, eligibility increased from $200,000 to $300,000.
And in the Annapolis Valley and South Shore region, eligibility rose from $200,000 to $375,000.
As well, the province is increasing the total household income eligibility to $145,000 across the province, up from $75,000, and has removed its sliding scale to provide a five per cent down payment to all applicants.
“Under these changes, the maximum down payment interest-free loan will be $25,000, repayable over 10 years,” the release said. “Repayment starts one month after the loan is issued.”
Rising home prices
According to the Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, the residential average home price in Nova Scotia in May was $452,748, up from $360,181 in May 2021 — an increase of more than 25 per cent.
Monday’s release said the province made the changes “so that more Nova Scotians have an opportunity to buy their first home.”
“With the rising real estate prices and the increase in cost of living, home ownership has become more challenging and out of reach for many young Nova Scotian families,” said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Lohr.
“These changes better reflect current market conditions and will help more people achieve the dream of home ownership.”
The release said since the beginning of the fiscal 2022-23 year, 13 applications were approved under the program.