How to Buy a House in Canada with Little to No Down Payment

Buying a home with no down payment in Canada is possible with alternative mortgage options. Here is an in-depth guide to achieving homeownership with limited savings.

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Research Low Down Payment Assistance Programs Thoroughly

One of the best avenues for first-time home buyers in Canada needing a complete 20% down payment is utilizing government-backed low down payment programs that only require 5-10% down from qualified applicants. For example, the nationally available First Time Home Buyer Incentive from the federal government helps cover up to 10% of a first home purchase price up to $500,000 maximum, with applicants contributing a minimum of only 5% down themselves.

Additionally, provinces like Ontario and British Columbia offer down payment assistance programs that provide qualified residents with interest-free or forgivable loans worth 5-10% of a home’s purchase price to boost the down payment. Mortgage default insurance from providers like CMHC and Genworth also enables Canadians to put down only 5-10% while avoiding the high-interest rates that typically come with minimal down payments.

Read all terms, fine print, income requirements, and usage guidelines when utilizing low-down payment grants or incentives as restrictions apply. Structuring these programs properly allows first-time buyers to achieve home ownership with a down payment of less than 20%.

Consider Mortgage Options Allowing 10-20% Down

Another avenue for purchasing a home in Canada with less than the traditional 20% down is utilizing lender mortgage offerings that now permit down payments between 10-20%. These feature greater flexibility than the rigid 20% down requirement of the past. Mortgages with only 10-15% down enable buying a home sooner with less money upfront.

However, lower down payment mortgages also incur added costs in the form of mortgage default insurance premiums which raise your effective interest rates and monthly carrying costs marginally. But you typically only pay the premiums until reaching 20% equity, so they are temporary.

Putting just 10-20% down represents a middle ground between very high and meager down payments – you make a reasonable down payment to keep monthly costs affordable while minimizing the mortgage premium period. This balances your financial contribution and monthly obligations intelligently. Ensure your income and debt levels align with the more considerable mortgage amount and payments.

Explore Family Assistance to Boost Your Down Payment

Borrowing a portion of your down payment amount from family through a private loan agreement is an avenue to explore to boost your total down payment, allowing you to qualify for better mortgage rates and terms from lenders. Generally, the larger the down payment you can contribute as a percentage of the home’s purchase price, the lower the interest rate and resulting monthly carrying costs on your mortgage will be.

Alternatively, look into legal shared investment or co-purchasing arrangements where family members technically co-purchase the home with you, contributing to the down payment in exchange for sharing in any appreciation when eventually selling the home. Having a more substantial down payment through utilizing family financial help, without the risks of an outright gift, may make your mortgage application more appealing to lenders and significantly improve affordability. Just ensure any agreements are adequately structured according to Canadian regulations.

Find Open-Minded Sellers Willing to Finance Themselves

Some home sellers hoping to directly collect steady monthly income in retirement or avoid tax consequences may prefer holding the mortgage themselves when selling and collecting monthly payments, as opposed to receiving the total sale amount upfront in cash from a traditional lender-financed buyer.

This scenario allows you to inquire with your real estate agent about identifying motivated sellers in your area who may be open to owner financing the purchase and allowing you to buy with little or nothing down at reasonable interest rates. With the housing market shifting in many regions, this has increasing appeal if both parties stand to benefit.

Owner financing with nothing down avoids the need for coming up with large lump sum down payments to beat out other buyer offers that could lead to overpaying or taking on excessive new debt. Just be sure to carefully vet any owner finance offer, reviewing the proposed contract thoroughly with a real estate lawyer well-versed in seller financing. Seek warranties and confirm the seller’s capability to cover mortgage payments during gaps in rent to minimize risk before signing.


While certainly challenging, purchasing a house in Canada with minimal or even zero down payment upfront is possible for determined first-time buyers willing to research alternative financing programs and seller arrangements that diverge from traditional 20% down mortgages. Government down payment assistance options, family loans, private mortgage financing, rent-to-own deals, and finder’s fees for buyers connecting motivated sellers all provide potential avenues to explore when limited funds are holding you back. With both creativity and an open mindset to pursue all options, a path to affordable home ownership generally emerges for those unable to put 20% down initially. Seek a trustworthy real estate agent well-versed in creative arrangements to expand possibilities further.

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