“Almost 1.8 million Canadians participate in the Home Buyers Plan (HBP), according to the latest available numbers from CRA but here’s the interesting part…
We’ve long operated under the assumption (based on past StatsCan research and CRA data) that 25-35% of people don’t make the annual repayments required by the plan. It turns out those numbers are a bit shy.
CRA told us last Wednesday that almost one-half of HBP participants (47%) “paid less than the full required repayment amount in tax year 2011.” (2011 is the latest data available.
That means almost 1 in 2 HBP users paid income tax on the RRSP money they borrowed and didn’t repay on time. (The amount of any repayment shortfall is considered taxable income, and tax is assessed on this amount at the individual filer’s marginal tax rate.)
That’s not to mention the tax-deferred investment gains they’re forgoing by not leaving the down payment funds in their RRSP. This lost growth directly impacts their income in retirement.
Such is the price that many young buyers are paying to own a home sooner. Is it worth it?”
– Rob McLister at Canadian Mortgage Trends, 5 Feb 2013
“Our unhealthy obsession with home ownership is never more clearly seen than it is in a well-used federal government program called the Home Buyers’ Plan.
The HBP allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $25,000 from a registered retirement savings plan to help cover a down payment. Somehow, we’ve decided that houses come before retirement savings. That’s a mistake and it needs to be corrected by winding down the HBP.
Prepare for hysteria if this is ever seriously discussed by the federal government. “There’d be a deafening outcry from the real estate industry, mortgage industry, first-time buyers, and many politicians,” Robert McLister, editor of the Canadian Mortgage Trends blog and a mortgage planner, told me in an e-mail. “First-timers have already taken the brunt of recent rule changes, so canning the HBP would be viewed as war against young homeowners.”
This is true, and here’s why. The idea that everyone should own a house is a foundational and uncontested financial principle here in this country. The massive rise in house prices since the mid-1980s has convinced almost everyone that there’s not only a social and economic benefit in promoting home ownership, but also a financial one for owners.
If you’re buying in some cities at current prices, that latter point is debatable. …
Through the HBP, the federal government is telling us that buying a house is important enough to scoop down-payment money out of your retirement savings. Why is Ottawa handing out bad financial advice?”
– Rob Carrick at The Globe and Mail, 4 Feb 2013
The spec mania in RE has been fuelled by those who have overextended themselves, using any means available, to buy properties at preposterous price levels, in the certain belief that prices can only ascend further.
There is now evidence from numerous quarters of debt limits being reached.
From the comment section at the G&M:
“Wrong on this one RC.
– best decision ever for us, able to purchase our first house several years earlier
– have steadily paid back the HBP so the money is not out of service forever
– house steadily appreciated faster than our RRSP by several hundred thousand $”
– Big Dan 5 Feb 2013 6:03am
Yeah, looks great on the way up, don’t it? – ed.