Latest News on KiwiSaver HomeStart for First Home Buyers

Housing NZ has released an update on its soon to be launched KiwiSaver HomeStart Scheme along with some answers to frequently asked questions. We’ll bring you more updates and information as it becomes available!

The KiwiSaver HomeStart grant will be introduced on 1 April 2015, to replace the KiwiSaver First Home deposit subsidy.

Like the KiwiSaver first-home deposit subsidy, the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant provides eligible first home buyers with a grant of up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for couples to put towards a deposit for an existing home.

In addition, the new KiwiSaver HomeStart grant will also provide eligible first home buyers with a grant of up to $10,000 for individuals and up to $20,000 for couples to help with the costs of building or purchasing a brand new home


When can I apply for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

Housing New Zealand will start accepting applications for KiwiSaver HomeStart from 1 April 2015, when HomeStart comes into effect.

Do I have to be a member of KiwiSaver to apply for a HomeStart grant?

Yes, to apply for a HomeStart grant you need to be a member of a KiwiSaver scheme, complying fund or exempt employer scheme. You can contact your scheme provider to check eligibility.


What is meant by a “new home”?

Eligible purchasers can use their KiwiSaver HomeStart grant towards a new property. This include the following options, provided that the land types are either fee simple, stratum estate freehold and leasehold, cross-lease, leasehold and multiple owned Maori land:

  • A vacant residential section on which a new dwelling will be built
  • A house and land package purchased off the plans
  • A new apartment built off the plans
  • A newly built property, defined as a dwelling of any type that has received its building code compliance certificate less than six months before the date of the buyer’s application


What is the maximum grant amount or number of grants that can be used for the purchase of a single dwelling?

For an older/existing property the maximum grant amount is $10,000 for a single dwelling. For a new property, the maximum grant amount is $20,000 for a single dwelling.

If I have a valid KiwiSaver deposit subsidy pre-approval that is due to expire sometime after 1 April 2015, do I automatically get a KiwiSaver HomeStart pre-approval?

No, you will be required to complete a new application and to submit it for consideration. This is because there are some differences between the products.


Is there a limit to the value of the house I can purchase and still qualify for a HomeStart grant?

Yes, the price caps vary by region:

  • Auckland – $550,000
  • Hamilton City, Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty, Kapiti Coast, Porirua City, Upper Hutt, Hutt City, Wellington City, Nelson City, Tasman, Waimakariri, Christchurch City, Selwyn District, Queenstown Lakes – $450,000
  • Rest of New Zealand – $350,000.

I am looking at purchasing a brand new apartment off the plans from a developer. The developer has indicated that to secure the apartment that I want, I need to pay them a $20,000 deposit upfront. Can I use the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant for this?

Yes. If you’re eligible for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, you can arrange for your grant to go towards the first payment that you make under the agreement with the developer.


I am buying an existing property. Can the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant be paid as part of the deposit I need to pay to the real estate agent handling the sale?

Unfortunately, no. For the purchase of older/existing properties, the earliest the HomeStart grant can be paid is on the morning of the property settlement.


I entered into an agreement to buy a house and land package with a developer several months ago. The property is due for completion in June 2015. I have paid the developer a $40,000 deposit. Can I still apply for the grant and if eligible, when’s payment?

You will need to complete a HomeStart grant application form and submit it along with the required supporting documents from 1 April 2015 onwards. As you are not due to settle until June, this provides sufficient time to process the application and if eligible pay the grant. As you have already paid the deposit to your developer, if you are deemed to be eligible for the grant, then the funds would not be released to your solicitor until the new property is due to settle. Therefore, you will need to provide us with confirmation that the property has received a code compliance certificate and certificate of title no later than 10 working days prior to the agreed settlement date.


How soon do I need to move into the property I am building, in order to keep my KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

If you are buying land to build your first home on, or are buying a house off the plans, you must provide a code compliance certificate within 12 months of the date that you entered into the agreement to purchase the house and land package. You then need to live in the property for at least 6 months from then.

If you are buying an apartment off the plans, you must provide a code compliance certificate within 18 months of the date that you entered into the agreement to purchase the apartment. You then need to live in the property for at least 6 months from then.

I am buying a section on which I will have my first home built. What do I need to submit with my application form to show that the land and build costs meet the house price cap for the region?

You will need to provide us with a fixed price building contract that clearly shows the agreed cost to build your home, as well as the agreement for sale and purchase that indicates the purchase price of the land.


I am a previous home owner. Can I apply for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

Yes. The general eligibility criteria for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant is the same as for the KiwiSaver Deposit Subsidy. Therefore, provided you no longer have an interest in property and are deemed to be in the same financial position as a first home buyer in terms of income and realisable assets, you could still qualify for the HomeStart grant.


To support the KiwiSaver HomeStart changes, are any changes planned for the KiwiSaver savings withdrawal feature?

Yes. From 1 April 2015, eligible members can withdraw all contributions to their KiwiSaver scheme (including tax credits), in addition to their employer’s contributions. The $1,000 kick start payment provided by the government cannot be withdrawn to help with a home purchase.

I was considering applying for a KiwiSaver deposit subsidy pre-approval in March. However, now that HomeStart is launching on 1 April 2015, what should I do?

If you are considering applying only for a pre-approval and you do not have a signed agreement for sale and purchase, we would recommend that you hold off and wait to apply for a HomeStart pre-approval from 1 April. That way you may also be able to consider new build properties (which weren’t covered by the KiwiSaver deposit subsidy) and you will be eligible for the new house price caps that come into effect from 1 April. If you apply for a KiwiSaver deposit subsidy prior to 31 March 2015, you will only be entitled to purchase a home with the existing house price caps and you will only be eligible for the $3,000 to $5,000 subsidy.

However, if you have an agreement for sale and purchase that is due to settle in late March/early April then we would encourage you to complete the current application form for the KiwiSaver deposit subsidy, so you remove the risk of missing out on a subsidy.

How can I find out more about HomeStart?

For more general information about KiwiSaver HomeStart or the KiwiSaver first-home savings withdrawal email or call 0508 935 266  visit Housing NZ Website Alternatively – contact us here at The First Home Buyers Club and we’ll help get answers to your questions!