First-time Homebuyer

We've got you covered.

Feel confident about buying your first home. We’ve got the expertise you need to help you understand the home buying process, select the right mortgage and seal the deal.

You are about to embark on one of the most important purchases of your life—buying your first home. Congratulations! We’re here to support you every step of the way. Your journey is an exciting one and we’re eager to help make it as easy as possible. 

What's the right mortgage for you?


A fixed rate mortgage has an interest rate that remains the same over the term of the mortgage.


    • Payments will not change

    • Easy to budget with set payments

    • Protects you against rising interest rates


A variable rate mortgage has an interest rate that fluctuates with the Alterna Savings prime rate.


    • The potential to pay off the mortgage faster if the prime rate falls

    • Historically, proven to be less expensive over time

    • Can be converted to a fixed rate mortgage at any time


Our Flexi-Mortgage allows you to split your mortgage into different terms and rates. 


    • Combine short- and long-term options that can be fixed or variable rates

    • Greater flexibility
    • Customize your own mortgage rate strategy

Get Started

Whether you’re getting your first mortgage, renewing, switching or refinancing, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Start with a conversation—find out how easy it can be. Contact one of our Mortgage Specialists today.

Our current mortgage rates

5-yr fixed closed – high ratio

interest rate

 5-year variable closed – high ratio 

interest rate

5-yr variable

interest rate

*rates subject to change

First-time Home Buyer incentive

First-time homebuyer? Take advantage of the Government of Canada’s First Time Home Buyer Incentive. It makes homeownership more affordable by providing 5% or 10% of the cost for a newly built home, 5% for a resale home or 5% for a new or resale mobile/manufactured home. The incentive is a shared equity mortgage that must be repaid after 25 years or when the home is sold.

To be eligible, you must be a first-time homebuyer, make a down payment of at least 5% from traditional sources and have a combined total annual qualifying income of $120,000 or less ($150,000 or less if you live in the Toronto, Vancouver or Victoria Census Metropolitan Areas).

More support programs

The Home Buyers’ Plan

Withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP (plus up to an additional $35,000 from your spouse’s RRSP (for a total of $70,000) to buy your first home.

Learn More

The First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit

Claim a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit if you purchase a qualifying home as a first-time homebuyer.

Learn More

The GST/HST New Housing Rebate

Obtain a rebate for some of the GST/HST you paid if you purchased a new or substantially renovated house from a builder. The rebate may also apply if you renovate your own home.

Learn More


young man and woman surrounded by moving boxes

What is the first-time homebuyer incentive?

Offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) this program is designed to make homeownership more affordable.

a mother, father and their young child sitting at the kitchen table on their laptop

How to choose the best mortgage option

Consider these 8 things to help you pick a mortgage that's right for you. 

a calculator and a picture of a house

What is a 'mortgage stress test'?

Find out if you'll be able to afford your mortgage if interest rates rise.

Learn more about Alterna Savings mortgages & fees

Frequently asked questions

Closed mortgages
A closed mortgage usually provides a lower interest rate than an open mortgage. However, it can’t be prepaid, renegotiated or refinanced without incurring a penalty.

Open mortgages
An open mortgage may carry a slightly higher interest rate than a closed mortgage, but it gives you the choice of paying your mortgage off whenever you like, without penalty.

Fixed rate mortgages
A fixed rate mortgage has a set interest rate for its entire term. This means you get the advantage of always knowing what your payments will be. We offer fixed rate mortgages with terms from 6 months to 10 years.

Variable rate mortgages
With a variable rate mortgage your interest rate fluctuates with Alterna's Prime rate, which can help you save if interest rates fall during your mortgage term. But if interest rates go up, so will the cost of borrowing. The good news is our variable rate closed mortgages can be converted to a fixed rate mortgage at any time.

Your down payment

A conventional mortgage requires a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price. If you make a down payment of less than 20%, you will need to get mortgage default insurance, through a provider such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or SagenTM. In some cases, mortgage default insurance may be required even with a 20% down payment.

The premium charged for mortgage default insurance is based on the mortgage amount and the size of the down payment. For your convenience, it can be paid as part of your regular mortgage payments.

For more information, speak to one of our mortgage specialists.

Your monthly payments
As a general rule, you should plan to spend no more than about 32% of your gross annual income on housing. This means if your family’s gross annual income is $55,000, you should aim to pay no more than $17,600 a year or $1,467 a month for:

  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Condominium fees

You should also try to ensure that your housing expenses plus other financial liabilities, such as payments on personal loans, credit cards, childcare expenses or support payments, add up to less than 40% of your gross annual income.

Visit our Mortgage Calculator for a further breakdown. 

Pre-approval takes the guesswork out of house hunting
Before you start looking at homes, find out exactly how much you can borrow. Our knowledgeable mortgage professionals can help you to determine this amount based on your down payment and the monthly payments you can afford.

Once you have your mortgage pre-approval, you’ll be ready to house hunt with confidence knowing you can make an offer quickly if the perfect place comes along.

The federal Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) allows first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy a qualifying residence. You then have up to 15 years to repay your RRSP in annual instalments. To qualify, neither you nor your spouse can have owned a home in the last five years.

It’s important to note that some RRSPs, such as locked-in or group RRSPs, do not allow you to withdraw funds. So, be sure to ask your RRSP issuer for information about the type of RRSP you have and whether withdrawals are allowed.

The federal First-Time Home Buyer Incentive also helps first-time home buyers reduce their monthly mortgage payment. The incentive provides up to 5% for the purchase of an existing home and up to 10% for a new build. To qualify, your household income must be less than $120,000 ($150,000 if you live in the Toronto, Vancouver or Victoria Census Metropolitan Areas) and neither you nor your spouse can have owned a house in the year of acquisition or in any of the four proceeding years. The amount of an insured mortgage and the CMHC incentive is capped at $480,000, meaning the maximum home price you could purchase with a 15% down payment is $565,000.

Homeowners do not have to pay interest on the incentive, but money must be paid back after 25 years or when the property is sold, whichever comes first. The government will share in the upside or downside of any change in property value.

Savings adds up over time. 
The following is for illustrative purposes only and assumes a mortgage rate of 3.09%.

Without CMHC


House Price



Down Payment



Cost of Mortgage Insurance



Size of Mortgage



Monthly Payment



Monthly Savings


Annual Savings


Savings over 25 years


You can choose from a number of mortgage options, including fixed or variable, open or closed, to meet your needs and lifestyle. Our homebuying specialists can assist you along the way.

This handy checklist will help you prepare for your first meeting with your Alterna mortgage representative, plus give you an idea of costs normally associated with home purchases.

Building your homebuying team

Once you are ready to look for a home, it's time to assemble a team of professionals who can support you. The mortgage professionals at Alterna can help you choose the right mortgage for your needs and provide you with a mortgage pre-approval—so you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend.

Other professionals who can help you in your homebuying journey:

  • Realtor: Although you can purchase a home without a realtor, it’s a good idea to enlist the services of an agent. By providing a realtor with a detailed description of your needs, they can offer you objective advice and help you find and compare a number of properties.

  • Home inspector: A clean bill of health from a qualified home inspector can help ensure you’re not buying a home with any hidden surprises. When hiring an inspector, it’s wise to ask for references.

  • Lawyer: A real estate lawyer can help protect your interests by preparing and reviewing documents related to your purchase agreement, mortgage documents, title documents and transfer documents.

Anticipating your closing costs

Know what to expect well in advance of the day of closing. You'll need to budget for:

  • CMHC or SagenTM insurance premiums: This will apply if you buy a home with less than a 20% down payment.

  • Land transfer taxes: The provincial government levies this one-time tax when you buy a home. The amount could come to about $20,000 on a $700,000 home (be sure to ask your lawyer for details on your particular situation). If you are a first-time homebuyer of a newly constructed home, you may be entitled to a rebate.

  • Legal fees: You are responsible for paying your lawyer's fees and disbursements. Services your lawyer may charge for include conducting a title search, drafting the title deed and preparing the mortgage.

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How can we help?

†Payment Protection Legal Disclaimer:
Creditor’s group insurance coverage is optional and is underwritten by Co-operators Life Insurance Company. Supporting services, such as enrollment intake, medical underwriting and claims administration are provided by the employees of CUMIS Services Incorporated. Coverage is governed by the terms and conditions of the creditor’s group insurance policy issued to the creditor and is subject to terms, conditions, exclusions and eligibility requirements. See the Product Guide and Certificate of Insurance for full coverage details.

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