PCs of­fer loans for first-time home buy­ers

NDP slams an­nounce­ment as vote-buy­ing, ‘hail Mary’ from dy­ing gov­ern­ment

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY DANIEL MACEACHEN TC ME­DIA editor@CB­N­com­pass.ca

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s new pro­gram of­fer­ing loans to first-time home buy­ers is a “hail Mary from a gov­ern­ment that’s dy­ing,” says the NDP.

Pre­mier Paul Davis an­nounced the two-year pi­lot project last Thurs­day in St. John’s, say­ing eco­nomic pros­per­ity in New­found­land and Labrador is rais­ing the cost of hous­ing, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple with low-to-mod­er­ate in­comes to buy a home.

Af­ford­able home own­er­ship is an in­vest­ment in our fu­ture. It’s an in­vest­ment in a fam­ily’s fu­ture. Pre­mier Paul Davis

“Af­ford­able home own­er­ship is an in­vest­ment in our fu­ture. It’s an in­vest­ment in a fam­ily’s fu­ture. But there is per­haps no greater chal­lenge in achiev­ing home own­er­ship than com­ing up with that much-needed and re­quired down pay­ment,” said Davis, an­nounc­ing the pro­gram, which will cost $2.5 mil­lion and which the gov­ern­ment es­ti­mates will gar­ner 100 to 125 ap­pli­cants a year. “And be­cause of that, many house­holds are pay­ing rents that ex­ceed what a mort­gage pay­ment would be for a mod­er­ately priced home, and we want to change that.”

But NDP hous­ing critic Gerry Rogers slammed the tim­ing of the pro­gram, which Davis said will start ac­cept­ing ap­pli­cants al­most im­me­di­ately, just over a month be­fore a pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

“I don’t know whether to cel­e­brate or be ab­so­lutely out­raged. This pro­gram was promised, promised by this gov­ern­ment, four years ago,” she said af­ter the an­nounce­ment. “It’s been four years of false prom­ises.”

The cost of hous­ing has risen sub­stan­tially in the past four years, said Rogers. “Imag­ine if this pro­gram was in place when they promised for it to be in place, how many fam­i­lies it could have helped. We’ve lost those four years, need­lessly,” she said. “This is a hail Mary from a gov­ern­ment that’s dy­ing. ... the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador are not stupid, and their votes will not be bought.”

That said, Rogers said the par­tic­u­lars of the pro­gram look good, apart from the max­i­mum pur­chase prices - $250,000 in the St. John’s area, $200,000 in re­gional cen­tres of Clarenville, Gan­der, Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Cor­ner Brook and Stephenville, and $175,000 in the rest of the prov­ince.

Ap­pli­cants must have a to­tal house­hold in­come of less than $65,000 to qual­ify for a full loan, which amounts to up to five per cent of the price of the house. House­holds with in­comes be­tween $65,000 and $75,000 will qual­ify on a slid­ing scale for less than the full amount. Re­pay­ment will be­gin five years af­ter the loan is made.

Real­tor John Riche, who at­tended the an­nounce­ment, said the pro­gram will help a lot of peo­ple, and not just the home buy­ers. Those home buy­ers will help free up rental in­ven­tory in tight mar­kets, he noted.

“There’s al­ways been that lower-in­come level that just can’t do it, be­cause there’s just not enough money, not enough in­come. They don’t meet the ra­tios from the mort­gage bro­kers, so it’s go­ing to help us a lot,” he said. “The real ben­e­fit, how­ever, is the rip­ple ef­fect it’s go­ing to cause in the industry - those peo­ple who are go­ing from apart­ments into this pro­gram, buy­ing new houses, those peo­ple who own those houses, they’re go­ing to be step­ping up a notch and you’re go­ing to see a rip­ple ef­fect that’ll go through the real-es­tate mar­ket.”


A new gov­ern­ment pro­gram will look to en­cour­age first-time home buy­ers to en­ter the hous­ing mar­ket.

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