First-Time Homebuyer Incentives in Nova Scotia

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Nestled along the banks of Eastern Canada, Nova Scotia offers residents stunning scenery, waterfront cities, and gorgeous beaches. For a province with such quick access to the natural beauty of the outdoors, real estate in Nova Scotia is affordable in comparison with over half the provinces in Canada, making it an excellent place to buy your first home. However, with so many processes, fees, and mortgage lenders, it can be challenging to know how to get the most bang for your buck when purchasing your first home. Luckily, Nova Scotia offers some incredible resources for those looking to buy their first home in the province.

We are laying out everything you need to know about the first-time homebuyer incentives in Nova Scotia and how to qualify for further assistance. Keep reading, and you’ll be a happy new homeowner in no time!

Nova Scotia First-Time Home Buyers Rebate

The Government of Nova Scotia provides a rebate of up to $3,000 to first-time homebuyers who purchase newly built homes. This Nova Scotia first-time homebuyer incentive is for newly constructed homes only and doesn’t include rental-to-condo conversions.

To apply for the Nova Scotia First-Time Home Buyers Rebate, here are the qualifications you must meet:

  • You must have never owned and occupied a home in Canada in the last five years.
  • You must purchase or build a new construction home
  • The home must be used as your primary residence or the primary residence of a direct relation.

When applicable, the purchasing individual’s direct relation (typically by blood or marriage) can occupy the household and still allow the purchaser to receive the rebate. However, the relative must not have owned a house in the last five years and must meet the same eligibility requirements as the purchaser. The incentive is limited to one per household, so if a home is to have two owners, only one can apply for the rebate.

You must apply for Nova Scotia’s First-Time Home Buyers Rebate within 24 months (2 years) of the date of sale or the occupancy permit, depending on the circumstances of your home. If you are to apply, you’ll need a number of documents to prove ownership; depending on the home you buy, you could need:

For the complete PDF on Nova Scotia’s First-Time Home Buyers Rebate, check out their website.

Nova Scotia Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP)

This first-time homebuyer incentive helps Nova Scotia homebuyers afford a down payment on their first home. The Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP) provides first-time homebuyers with an interest-free loan of up to 5% of the purchase price to be used toward their down payment.

The following are the qualifications a homebuyer must meet to be eligible for DPAP:

  • Must be pre-approved for a mortgage by a recognized financial institution and have a satisfactory credit score.
  • Be a first-time home buyer.
  • Total household income must not exceed $145,000.
  • Must be a Canadian citizen or have permanent residency.
  • Reside in Nova Scotia for at least 12 months (1 year).
  • Does not have the financial ability to pay 5% of the property’s purchase price without assistance from the program.

In addition, the property must:

  • Be located in Nova Scotia.
  • Be the applicant’s principal residence.
  • Be permanently affixed to the property.
  • Have a purchase price that does not exceed $500,000 (for Halifax), $300,000 (Northern and Eastern regions), or $275,000 (Annapolis Valley, West Hants, and South Shore).

The maximum loan amount for DPAP is $25,000, and the loan must be used on a down payment and cannot be used for closing costs, fees, or financing. You can apply for Nova Scotia’s Down Payment Assistance Program at any time and may need the following documents to support your application:

  • Income tax slips
  • Proof of income statements
  • Copy of your most recent pay stubs
  • Copy of your mortgage pre-approval statement
  • A signed affidavit showing no previous homeownership
  • Copy of your purchase and sale agreement
  • Verification of employment
  • Completed Authorization of Electronic Funds Transfer form

For complete information on the DPAP Nova Scotia first-time homebuyer incentive, head to Nova Scotia’s housing website to find forms, applications, and more.

Federal First-Time Homebuyer Incentives in Nova Scotia

There are several first-time homebuyer programs available at the federal level as well. Here are some of your options if one of the first-time homebuyer incentives in Nova Scotia doesn’t work for you:

RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan

The RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan allows first-time buyers to take up to $35,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to put toward a downpayment on their home. Note that you must be able to pay back the loan amount within a 15-year period.

Here are the qualifications for the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan incentive program:

  • You must be a first-time homebuyer.
  • You must be a Canadian resident at the time you withdraw the RRSP funds and up until the time that the home is bought or built.
  • The home must be your primary residence within the year of buying or building it.

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Canada’s First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit offers the purchaser and their spouse / common-law partner up to $750 in rebates on the income they pay taxes on the year they buy their home. In order to qualify for this straight-forward, first-time homebuyer incentive, both of the following must apply:

  • You or your spouse / common-law partner have purchased a qualifying home (check here to see if your home qualifies).
  • You have not lived in another home owned by you or your spouse / common-law partner in the five years prior to purchasing the qualifying home.

Disability Tax Credit

Even if you are not a first-time home buyer, you may receive the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit under one other circumstance. If you are a homebuyer with a disability and you claim Disability Tax Credit on your tax return, you can also claim the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit as long as you have the following qualifications:

  • You are eligible for the disability tax credit.
  • You claim the disability amount on your tax return the same year you purchase the home.
  • You intend to occupy the home (or your direct relative with a disability must occupy the home) within a year of purchasing it.
  • Your home must specifically meet the needs of the purchaser or intended occupant with a disability.

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

If you purchase a new, off-plan, or significantly-renovated home, you will likely be required to pay Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and a Goods and Services Tax (GST). To make these fees less of a homebuying burden, Canada’s GST/HST New Housing Rebate can help you get back up to 36% of the GST amount paid on your new home.

  • If your home is $350K or less: You will receive the full rebate percentage.
  • If your home is between $350K and $450K: You will receive a partial rebate.

You must purchase a new or substantially renovated home to receive this first-time homebuyer incentive. You cannot claim the New Housing Rebate on your taxes if your spouse, a partner corporation, or another individual owns the house.

Frequently Asked Questions About First-Time Homebuyer Incentives in Nova Scotia


How much is the down payment for first-time homebuyers in Nova Scotia?

If the home’s purchase price is less than $500,000, homebuyers must put down a minimum of 5% of the home’s purchase price. The typical down payment for homebuyers across Canada is somewhere between 5% and 20%. The higher the percentage you can put down upfront, the less you will end up paying month-to-month on mortgage payments.

Who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer?

Canada defines the first-time homebuyer as someone who has not owned and occupied a home in the past five years. To qualify for most (if not all) of Canada and Nova Scotia’s first-time homebuyer incentives, you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. You must not have occupied a home that your spouse / common-law partner has owned in the last five years.

If you are a first-time homebuyer coming to Canada from another country, here’s a guide to buying property in Canada as a foreigner.

Do I have to be a Nova Scotia native to qualify for first-time homebuyer assistance?

While you do not have to be from Nova Scotia to qualify for any provincial or federal first-time homebuyer incentives, you typically need to be a Canadian citizen or have permanent resident status to be eligible. Qualifications vary from incentive to incentive, so make sure to check out all the details before applying.

What cities are popular for first-time homebuyers in Nova Scotia?

The following are popular cities in Nova Scotia for first-time homebuyers due to convenience, home prices, and other factors:

First-Time Homebuyer Incentives in Nova Scotia

We hope that you now feel fully equipped to buy your first home and know what your financial assistance options are. If you feel ready to start your Nova Scotia home search, reach out to a local real estate agent, so you have help from start to finish. For further insight on the first-time home buying process, here are 5 facts every first-time home buyer should know.