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First Home Buyers

First Home Buyers

Some essential facts for buying your first home

Should you buy?

Your home is one of the biggest assets you’ll ever have – and the biggest debt. Are you clear about why you’re looking to buy?

There are pros and cons to owning and renting – with help from Kiwibank we have put together some information so you can make the right decision that suits you. 

Contact one of our agents for any advice and help when it comes to purchasing your new home.


The pros of buying and renting


  • Your money goes towards an asset you own – so you’ve got the possibility of long-term capital gain. Once you’re on the property ladder, it opens up opportunities to upsize or upgrade later.
  • Owning a home gives you stability – a place to make a home that’s all yours.
  • You have freedom to renovate to make the house into the home you want. Don’t like the wallpaper? Want to change the kitchen? You could even build on.
  • You’ll be responsible for maintaining your home, and paying rates
  • Your payments can fluctuate - if interest rates rise, your payments may go up.
  • If your circumstances change, it takes time to sell or find tenants.



  • Rent can be cheaper than paying a mortgage – and you can house-share to keep costs down.
  • Renting means you can be more spontaneous – it’s easier to move if you decide to travel, change careers, up or downsize.
  • Your landlord is responsible for upkeep and maintenance – if something breaks, they’ll fix it.
  • You pay rent but you don’t own anything at the end of it.
  • You usually can’t redecorate to your taste on a rental property. If you want to change something, you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission – and possibly share the costs.
  • Your landlord decides who they’ll rent to and for how long - so you might have to move more often than you’d like.


What can you afford?

Your home-buying budget is the amount you can borrow, plus whatever savings you can contribute as a deposit.

The amount you can borrow depends mainly on how much you can afford in home loan repayments – KiwiBank's handy calculators can help you figure this out.

Remember to account for rates, insurance and home maintenance when you work out how much you’ll be able to spend on repayments. Also it is good to keep in mind what you want in a home and try prioritise those things as more often then not when it comes to your first home, there is some compromise involved to find the right home to suit your price range. Our agents are experts and are great at matching people with property, so contact one of our agents and let them know what kind of home you have in mind, what areas you prefer and what kind of price range you are looking in. With all of this information it is much easier to find suitable properties for you. Once you have an agent you like and are happy to work with, feel free to ask for advice on what ever you need and to guide you in the right direction.


How much deposit do you need?

In most cases, you will need at least a 20% deposit. There’s some great information and calculators on sorted.org.nz to help you get started.

If you’re eligible for a Welcome Home Loan, a scheme supported by Housing New Zealand, you may be able to borrow with less than a 20% deposit.

It can be a good idea to save an extra $2,000 – over and above your deposit – to cover lawyers’ fees, movers’ fees, and the cost of things like builder’s reports and registered valuations.



If you’ve been contributing to KiwiSaver for at least three years, you could be eligible for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant (formerly the KiwiSaver first home subsidy). There are two levels of funding available: 

  • If you are buying an existing home, you could be eligible for $1,000 for each year you’ve been contributing – up to a maximum of $5,000. This means that if you’re buying a house with a partner and you both qualify, you could get up to $10,000.
  • If you are buying a newly built home or a proposed home off plans, you could be eligible for $2,000 for each year you’ve been contributing – up to a maximum of $10,000. This means that if you’re buying a house with a partner and you both qualify, you could get up to $20,000.

For more information and an outline of the full eligibility criteria check the Housing New Zealand website.


Low Equity Fee (LEF)

For deposits of less than 20%, you may be charged a Low Equity Fee (LEF).It’s a one-off fee charged at the start of your loan. You can choose to either add this to your loan or pay it up front.Be aware that adding it to your loan means you’ll pay interest on it over the course of your loan.



Saving your deposit

Saving your deposit can be hard – but the more you can save, the less you’ll need to borrow, and the sooner you might be able to get mortgage free.

If you have a deposit of less than 20% of the house’s value, you might still have options. If you’re eligible, you could apply for a Welcome Home Loan.


Set a budget so you can save a set amount each pay

The key to building savings is adding to them regularly. You won’t be tempted to touch your savings if you make sure you leave yourself enough money for everything you’ll need between pays – so be realistic about how much you can save and how often.

You can also set up and track your savings with Goal Tracker.

The sorted website has some really good tip and tools on how to budget.


Get the highest interest you can

If you don’t have a savings plan in place, you can consider putting your savings into a term deposit or a Kiwibank Notice Saver. Under these accounts, you will earn better interest on your investment than a savings account.


Save it before you see it

We’ve got some clever services that can save your money for you.


With a sweep, your money is automatically swept to or from different accounts when you reach a chosen maximum or minimum amount. For example, you can set a sweep on your everyday account so that everything over a specified amount is swept into your savings at the end of the day.


PayStream splits your pay before you see it. When your pay comes in, your specified amount is automatically redirected into your savings or bills accounts – before you ever see it.


Deal with your other debt

Debts are taken into account when you apply for a home loan, so it’s good to pay off as many as you can. Consider consolidating debts like credit cards, hire purchases or loans into one personal loan to help you pay them off faster.

Make sure you close the accounts after you consolidate cards or loans. The limits won’t be taken into account in your home loan application - and you won’t be tempted to run them back up again.



Getting conditionally approved

Why get conditionally approved?

A conditional approval means the bank has agreed in principle to lend you a certain amount of money. It gets things moving, because when you find a house you want and it’s time to complete your application, the bank already has your information.

A conditional approval is free and doesn’t lock you into a loan or even a specific bank. It gives you confidence – you know how much you can spend. It also gives you bargaining power because your finance is conditionally approved.

How do you get conditionally approved?

You can apply for conditional approval online – applying takes 25 minutes, and you can save and come back to the application later if you need to.

To apply for a home loan with Kiwibank you will need to be at least 18, be a permanent New Zealand resident and have a good credit history. Get in touch if you have any questions – we’ll be happy to answer them for you.


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