NS Liberals request changes to the down payment assistance program

The Nova Scotia Liberal Party is calling on the provincial government to increase the purchase price cap on homes eligible for the down payment assistance program.

Interest-free loans are intended to help first-time homebuyers with a total household income of less than $75,000 and who cannot afford 5% of the purchase price without assistance.

The purchase price cannot exceed $300,000 in the Halifax Regional Municipality and $200,000 in the rest of the province.

Liberal housing critic Lorelei Nicoll said that was a problem.

“I haven’t seen a house listed in HRM in the last year for $300,000,” she said in an interview.

Given the state of the province’s housing market, which is fueled by property bidding wars and an average sale price of $452,000, the down payment program has become obsolete and needs to be reviewed, Nicol said.

“There should be some kind of indexing that happens automatically as the market moves,” she said.

Declining use since 2019

The Liberals released figures obtained through an access to information request on Friday that show use of the program has plummeted across the province in recent years.

In the central region of the province, the distribution is as follows:

In the East region:

In the northern region:

In the West region:

Department reviewing the program

With no sign of a cooling market and many first-time buyers struggling to find a place, Nicoll said the government needed to review the scheme to ensure it actually provides assistance in the current landscape.

A spokesman for the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing said the government is aware that it is becoming increasingly difficult for first-time home buyers to buy a home, and the parameters of the downsizing scheme funds are being revised to better align with current market conditions.

The ministry doubled the program’s budget to $4.2 million this year in anticipation of upcoming changes, the spokesperson said.

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