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4 affordable ways to stop renting and start buying your home in Calgary

Posted by Lisa Hallet on Jan 15, 2019 9:15:03 AM


Buying a home can seem overwhelming to moderate-income Calgarians. There are many barriers to consider and many questions that come up along the way.

Like can I afford it? How do I qualify? Will it be a good investment for my family? Does renting give me greater flexibility?

What you may not know is that there are four organizations in Calgary that are trying to make home ownership more affordable:

These organizations all address the biggest barrier to buying a home, which is coming up with a 5% down payment – this is the minimum required by CMHC for homes under $500,000.

And while there are similarities between them, there are some important differences that are useful to understand.

For example, Attainable, PEAK and Liberty require you to be able to qualify for a bank mortgage and provide a small down payment ($1,000-$2,000), while Habitat for Humanity does not.

So we’ve taken these options and broken them down for you. Read on to see if one of them might be a good fit for you and download the tipsheet that breaks them all down!

Note – these are summaries and you should click through to the actual program for accurate details and contact them directly if you are interested.

1. Attainable Homes

What it is:

Attainable Homes builds homes one- to five-bedroom townhomes and sells them to qualifying Calgarians who can provide a $2,000 down payment.

How it works:

Attainable Homes removes this barrier of a down payment through an investment partnership. You, as the home buyer, provide $2,000 and Attainable Homes provides the rest to get to the required five percent down payment.

Basically, Attainable covers the difference and you pay them back by sharing the home’s equity with them when you sell the home.

The longer you live in your home, the larger your share in its appreciation up to a maximum of 75 percent.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Maximum household income of $83,000 for individuals
  • Maximum household income of $93,000 for couples without children
  • Maximum household income of $103,000 for homes with children
  • Your assets are less than 20% of the home’s purchase price, up to a maximum of $50,000 (this does not include primary vehicle, RESP, RRSP & pension)
  • You can qualify for a bank mortgage and put $2,000 of your own money down
  • You complete a home education session
  • Your home will be your permanent and only residence

Find more information at www.attainyourhome.com.

Attainable Homes
Laurels in Saddle Ridge by Attainable Homes.
Photos Credit Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation.


2. PEAK Housing Initiatives

What it is:

The goals of PEAK Housing Initiatives are to help first-time home buyers enter the market, retain their equity to move up, and reinvest the proceeds from the sale of their homes to help additional buyers purchase a home.

The PEAK program is available on homes built in certain Trico Homes residential developments.

How it works:

PEAK housing units are priced at market value and recipients must be able to qualify for a bank mortgage.

Once you are approved for the program, PEAK extends a second mortgage that covers up to a maximum of 5% of the purchase price to assist with the down payment.

The second mortgage is interest free for the first five years, with repayment not due until you sell your home. If you choose to stay in the home beyond the five-year period you will begin to accrue interest to the second mortgage.

Home buyers are able to retain all of the earned equity in their home, minus their initial deposit, if they stay in the home for at least three years.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Are pre-approved for a five-year fixed-rate mortgage equivalent to the price of the PEAK housing unit
  • Have a household income to a maximum of $80,000 per year for singles or couples with no dependent children living at home; or, $90,000 per year for singles or couples with dependent children living at home
  • Don’t have available resources for a 5% down payment
  • To secure a unit you must have $1,000 to put down a deposit
  • Have assets equaling less than $30,000 per household (excluding primary vehicle, RESP, RRSP or pension)
  • Will keep the PEAK Housing unit as your sole permanent residence

Find out more at www.peakinitiative.ca.


Viridian Condos in Sage Hill by Trico Homes


3. Habitat for Humanity

What it is:

Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to help families build long-term strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership.

How it works:

With the support of sponsors, donors, community partners and volunteers, Habitat for Humanity helps families buy their first home without the need for a down payment.

Monthly mortgage payments are calculated so that homeowners never pay more than 25% of their household income on housing costs, which includes mortgage payments, property taxes, and monthly maintenance fees.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Families earn at least $40,000 in employment income (for homes outside of Calgary it may be less)
  • Maximum total household income dependent on family size
  • Have children under the age of 18
  • At least one member of the household working full-time (35 hours per week)
  • Consistent full-time work history for the past two years
  • Do not currently own real estate
  • Have lived in the area in which you are applying for at least two years
  • All family members are Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents
  • Low debt
  • Some savings

Find out more at www.habitatsouthernab.ca/ownahome.



Silvercreek Legacy Build by Habitat for Humanity


4. Liberty Home Ownership

What it is:

Liberty Affordable Home Ownership was created to address the growing housing affordability gap and has a goal of helping 1,000 middle-income Albertans buy their own home over the next 10 years. 

How it works:

Liberty sells homes to buyers who can qualify for a mortgage and provide a $1,500 down payment.

The program provides a forgivable equity loan equivalent to 5% of the purchase price of the home. This amount comes from the discount to market value that the program sells the home to you for.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Personal income less than $83,000 for a single individual
  • Household income less than $103,000 for couples with dependent children living in the home
  • Household income less than $93,000 for couples with no dependent children living in the home
  • Can first qualify for a bank mortgage and then put down $1,500 of their own money towards a down payment
  • The home you choose with Liberty will be your permanent sole residence
  • Your current assets are less than $100,000 (excluding primary vehicle, RESP, RRSP and pension)

Find out more at www.libertyhomeownership.org.

Liberty Home Ownership

Legends by Liberty Home Ownership.
Photo credit www.libertyhomeownership.org


These are four options we found that we think will be helpful for you!

Getting in to home ownership can be daunting, but these options are making it easier. Be sure to visit their websites to find out more!

Topics: Calgary, Home Ownership

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Download the home ownership tipsheet