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Are you financially ready to become a homeowner?

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This step guides you through some simple calculations to figure out your current financial situation, and the maximum home price that you should consider.

Calculate Your Household Expenses

Start figuring out your financial readiness by evaluating your present household budget. How much are you spending each month? Knowing exactly how much, will give you a better idea about whether you can afford to become a homeowner. The Current Household Budget worksheet helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses. Or, you may also use the CMHC Household Budget Calculator to complete your current household budget now.

Calculate Your Monthly Debt Payments

Do you know how much debt you are carrying? You need this information to figure out whether you are financially ready for homeownership. If you decide to buy a home, mortgage lenders will ask for this information.

Your Maximum House Price

The maximum home price that you can realistically afford depends on a number of factors. The most important factors are your household gross monthly income, your down payment and the mortgage interest rate. For many people, the hardest part of buying a home — especially their first one — is saving the necessary down payment.

Calculate Your Maximum House Price

Use the Mortgage Affordability Calculator below to figure out the maximum home price you can afford, the maximum mortgage amount you can borrow, and your monthly mortgage payments (including principal and interest).

  1. Interest is compounded semi-annually not in advance. The interest rate is fixed for the term of the mortgage. The interest rate is usually renegotiated at the end of the term of the mortgage.
  2. Minimum down payment may vary.
  3. These calculations are approximate. They do not account for the payment of CMHC Insurance Premiums, applicable sales taxes, closing costs, or other fees that may be required.

CMHC Mortgage Calculator is for general illustrative purposes only. The amounts it projects are based upon assumptions and estimates made according to generally accepted principles for mortgages in Canada. CMHC cannot guarantee the projections. Actual payment amount must be obtained from your lender. Neither CMHC nor any of its advisors shall have any liability for the accuracy of this information.

Do Your Calculations Look Encouraging?

What is your current financial situation? After doing the calculations, do you feel fairly confident about beginning the homebuying process? You’re ready to proceed with homeownership.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?

You may need to step back and make some improvements. Did your calculations show that you might have trouble meeting monthly debt payment? If that’s the case, you may find it difficult to get approved for a mortgage. Here are some things you can do to improve your situation:

  • Pay off some loans first.
  • Save for a larger down payment.
  • Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
  • Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Here are some more helpful strategies:

  • Meet with a credit counsellor. He (or she) can help you figure out how to minimize your debts.
  • Buy your home through a rent-to-own program. These are sometimes provided by the builder or a non-profit sponsor.
  • Find out about programs through which you can help build your own home.
  • Ask the housing department of your municipality if any special programs exist.


Before approving a mortgage, lenders will want to see how well you have paid your debts and bills in the past. To do this, they consider your credit history (credit report) from a credit bureau. This tells them about your financial past and how you have used credit.

Before looking for a mortgage lender, get a copy of your own credit history. There are two main credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada Inc. and TransUnion of Canada. You can contact either one of them to get a copy of your credit report. There is often a fee for this service.

Once you receive your credit report, examine it to make sure the information is complete and accurate.

If you have no credit history

If you have no credit history, it is important to start building one by, for example, applying for a standard credit card with good interest rates and terms, making small purchases and paying them as soon as the bill comes in.

If you have a poor credit history

If you have poor credit, lenders might not be able to give you a mortgage loan. You will need to re-establish a good credit history by making debt payments regularly and on time. Most unfavourable credit information (including bankruptcy) drops off your credit file after seven years.

Consider getting some credit counselling if you have a history of poor credit or talk to your lender to discuss options.


It’s a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage before you start shopping. Many realtors will ask if you’ve been approved. A lender will look at your finances and figure the amount of mortgage you can afford. Then the lender will give you a written confirmation, or certificate, for a fixed interest rate. This confirmation will be good for a specific period of time. A pre-approved mortgage is not a guarantee of being approved for the mortgage loan.

Even if you haven’t found the home you want to buy, having a pre-approved mortgage amount will help keep a good price range in mind.

Bring these with you the first time you meet with a lender:

  • Your personal information, including identification such as your driver’s license
  • Details on your job, including confirmation of salary in the form of a letter from your employer
  • All your sources of income
  • Information and details on all bank accounts, loans and other debts
  • Proof of financial assets
  • Source and amount of down payment and deposit
  • Proof of source of funds to cover the closing costs (these are usually between 1.5% and 4% of the purchase price)


Your lender or broker will offer you several choices to help find you the mortgage that best matches your needs. Here are some of the most common.

Amortization Period

Amortization refers to the length of time you choose to pay off your mortgage. Mortgages typically come in 25 or 30-year amortization periods. However, they can be as short as 15 years. Usually, the longer the amortization, the smaller the monthly payments. However, the longer the amortization, the higher the interest costs. Total interest costs can be reduced by making additional (lump sum) payments when possible.

Payment Schedule

You have the option of repaying your mortgage every month, twice a month, every two weeks or every week. You can also choose to accelerate your payments. This usually means one extra monthly payment per year.

Interest Rate Type

You will have to choose between “fixed”, “variable” or “protected (or capped) variable”. A fixed rate will not change for the term of the mortgage. This type carries a slightly higher rate but provides the peace of mind associated with knowing that interest costs will remain the same.

With a variable rate, the interest rate you pay will fluctuate with the rate of the market. Usually, this will not modify the overall amount of your mortgage payment, but rather change the portion of your monthly payment that goes towards interest costs or paying your mortgage (principal repayment). If interest rates go down, you end up repaying your mortgage faster. If they go up, more of the payment will go towards the interest and less towards repaying the mortgage. This option means you may have to be prepared to accept some risk and uncertainty.

A protected (or capped) variable rate is a mortgage with a variable interest rate that has a maximum rate determined in advance. Even if the market rate goes above the determined maximum rate, you will only have to pay up to that maximum.

Use the Mortgage Payment Calculator to find how much and how often your payment will be. Compare options and find one that’s right for you.

CMHC Mortgage Calculator is for general illustrative purposes only. The amounts it projects are based upon assumptions and estimates made according to generally accepted principles for mortgages in Canada. CMHC cannot guarantee the projections. Actual payment amount must be obtained from your lender. Neither CMHC nor any of its advisors shall have any liability for the accuracy of this information.

Mortgage Term

The term of a mortgage is the length of time for which options are chosen and agreed upon, such as the interest rate. It can be as little as six months or as long as five years or more. When the term is up, you have the ability to renegotiate your mortgage at the interest rate of that time and choose the same or different options.

“Open” or “Closed” Mortgage

An open mortgage allows you to pay off your mortgage in part or in full at any time without any penalties. You may also choose, at any time, to renegotiate the mortgage. This option provides more flexibility but comes with a higher interest rate. An open mortgage can be a good choice if you plan to sell your home in the near future or to make large additional payments.

A closed mortgage usually carries a lower interest rate but doesn’t offer the flexibility of an open mortgage. However, most lenders allow homeowners to make additional payments of a determined maximum amount without penalty. Typically, most people will select a closed mortgage.

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