The First Home Savings Account in Canada: A Pathway to Homeownership

Introduction: In the pursuit of homeownership, Canadians often face significant hurdles, from saving for a down payment to navigating the complexities of mortgage options. Recognizing these challenges, the Canadian government introduced the First Home Savings Account (FHSA) as a means to alleviate some of the burdens associated with purchasing a first home. In this blog post, we'll delve into what the FHSA entails, its benefits, eligibility criteria, and how it can serve as a valuable tool for aspiring homeowners.

Understanding the First Home Savings Account (FHSA): The FHSA is a savings account specifically designed to help Canadians save for their first home. Launched in 2022, this initiative aims to provide individuals with a tax-efficient way to accumulate funds for a down payment, thereby making homeownership more accessible.

Key Features and Benefits:

Tax Advantages: Contributions made to an FHSA are tax-deductible, meaning individuals can reduce their taxable income by the amount contributed, up to a specified limit.

Higher Interest Rates: Financial institutions offering FHSA often provide competitive interest rates, allowing savers to grow their funds more effectively than with traditional savings accounts.

Flexibility: Funds saved in an FHSA can be used for various homeownership-related expenses, including the down payment, closing costs, and legal fees.

No Penalty for Withdrawals: Unlike some other savings plans, withdrawing funds from an FHSA for eligible homeownership expenses does not incur penalties or taxes.

Eligibility and Contribution Limits: Individuals must meet certain criteria:

  • Be a Canadian resident.

  • Have never owned a home in Canada.

  • Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Contributions to an FHSA are subject to annual limits set by the government.

As of 2024, the maximum annual contribution is:

  • $10,000 per individual

  • or $20,000 per couple

How to Open an FHSA: Opening an FHSA typically involves visiting a participating financial institution, such as a bank, credit union, or investment house, and completing the necessary paperwork. Individuals may need to provide identification and proof of eligibility.

Conclusion: For many Canadians, homeownership represents a significant milestone and a cornerstone of financial stability. The First Home Savings Account offers a promising avenue for individuals to realize this goal by providing tax advantages, competitive interest rates, and flexibility in savings. While it may not be a panacea for all housing affordability concerns, the FHSA stands as a valuable tool in the toolkit for aspiring homeowners, offering a tangible path towards achieving the dream of owning a new home.


  • Government of Canada. "First Home Savings Account (FHSA)." Accessed January 20, 2024. Link

  • Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. "What is a First Home Savings Account?" Accessed January 20, 2024. Link

  • Canada Revenue Agency. "Guide to the First Home Savings Account (FHSA)." Accessed January 20, 2024. Link


What NOT to Do Before House Loan Qualification

Are you gearing up to qualify for a home purchase? It's an exciting journey but beware of certain pitfalls that can derail your dream. Here, we uncover the top 10 mistakes you should avoid to ensure a smooth path to homeownership. Perfect for those in the market for a new home, these tips are a must-read:

  1. Changing Jobs: Stability is key. Lenders favour a steady employment history. Avoid switching jobs, quitting, or starting self-employment until your purchase is complete.

  2. Shuffling Finances: Keep your finances steady. Moving money between accounts can complicate the lender’s verification process.

  3. Purchasing a Vehicle: A new car loan can impact your mortgage borrowing capacity. Postpone any vehicle purchases until after closing.

  4. Overusing Credit Cards: High credit card usage can lower your credit score. Keep your credit utilization in check and keep up to date with payments.

  5. Spending Closing Funds: Guard your closing cost savings. Using this money prematurely can risk your mortgage approval.

  6. Hiding Debts: Transparency is crucial. Disclose all debts and liabilities upfront to avoid surprises during the loan process.

  7. Big Purchases: Delay buying appliances or furniture. Such expenses can alert lenders and potentially disrupt your mortgage process.

  8. Excessive Credit Checks: Too many hard inquiries on your credit report can decrease your score. Limit credit applications before closing.

  9. Unexplained Deposits: Consult your mortgage broker before making large deposits. These need proper documentation and verification.

  10. Co-Signing Loans: Co-signing increases your financial obligations and can impact your loan eligibility.

Navigating the home-buying process can be complex and it is important to set yourself up for success. Avoiding these common mistakes can make your journey to homeownership smoother and more successful. For more insights and personalized advice, feel free to reach out to our team. Happy house hunting!


How to Set an Offer Price

There is no set equation to determine how you’ll reach an offer price. Rather, the process involves a range of research and comparison that will vary with each situation. You’ll need to look at sales of comparable properties, and factor in additional data such as the condition of the property, the current market, and seller circumstances. With this information in hand, you will be able to determine a fair price range and, from there, establish the price you’re willing to offer.

Concentrate on the following areas to help you determine an offer price:

Comparable Sales

  • Compare prices of homes that are similar to the property you’re considering in the following areas: number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, lot size, type of construction, and garage space.

  • The most comprehensive and in-depth information can be accessed through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Your local Cowichan Valley realtor, who will be working closely with you to set your offer price, can help you navigate this service.

Property Condition

  • Observe how the property compares to the rest of the neighbourhood. Is it average, above average, or below average?

  • Look at structural condition: walls, ceilings, windows, floors, doors.

  • Pay close attention to: bathrooms, bedrooms, condition of plumbing and electricity.

  • Also check the fixtures: light switches, doorknobs, drawer handles, etc.

  • What is the condition of the front and back yards? 

Home Improvements

  • Cosmetic changes can be largely ignored, but any major improvements should be taken into account.

  • Take special note of: room additions (especially bedrooms and bathrooms).

  • Items such as swimming pools may be taken into account, but usually won’t affect your offer. Your Realtor can offer your guidance in these matters.


Market Conditions

Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is considered a “hot” market. This type of market is created when demand is greater than supply—that is, when the number of Buyers exceeds the number of homes on the market. As a result, these homes usually sell very quickly, and there are often multiple offers. Many homes will sell above the asking price.

Buyer’s Market

A Buyer’s market is a slower market. This type of market occurs when supply is greater than demand, the number of homes exceeding the number of Buyers. Properties are more likely to stay on the market for a longer period of time. Fewer offers will come in, and with less frequency. Prices may even decline during this period. Buyers will have more selection and flexibility in terms of negotiating toward a lower price. Even if your initial offered price is too low, Sellers will be more likely to come back with a counter-offer.

Balanced Market

In a balanced market, supply equals demand, the number of homes on the market roughly equal to the number of buyers. When a market is balanced there aren’t any concrete rules guiding whether a buyer should make an offer at the higher end of his/her range, or the lower end. Prices will be stable, and homes will sell within a reasonable period of time. Buyers will have a decent number of homes to choose from, so sellers may encounter some competition for offers on their home, or none at all.

Comparable sales information helps you establish a price range for the home you’re interested in. Adding in the additional factors mentioned above will guide your decision of whether you consider a “fair” price to be near the upper or lower limit—or the middle—of that range.

Keep in mind, this price should be the one you’d be happy with once all negotiations are said and done. The price you decide to begin with depends on your particular style of negotiation. Most buyers begin the negotiation process with a number lower than the “fair” price they’ve come up with.

MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.