KiwiSaver can help you purchase your first home! If you are going to buy your first home, you may be able to withdraw some of your KiwiSaver savings to put towards it. You may also qualify for a one-off contribution through Housing New Zealand’s HomeStart grant.
If you have not yet joined a KiwiSaver scheme, join now and get saving for your first home.
Applying for a first home withdrawal from KiwiSaver
You may be able to use the first home withdrawal from KiwiSaver to help you purchase your first home if you meet the following conditions:
You must have been a member of KiwiSaver for a minimum of three years.
You must have never owned a house or land before.*
The house or land you are purchasing must be in New Zealand and intended to be your principal place of residence – a rental investment property would not qualify.
You must not have made a withdrawal from a KiwiSaver scheme for the purchase of a home before.
*If you have previously owned a property you may be eligible to withdraw from your KiwiSaver account to help purchase a home if you can show that you are in a similar financial position to a first home buyer. The eligibility of previous home owners for the ‘second chance’ withdrawal is assessed by Housing New Zealand. If you already hold land and wish to use your KiwiSaver savings to assist with building your first home, you will not qualify for a first home withdrawal.
If you meet the above requirements you may be able to make a first home withdrawal to purchase an interest in a dwellinghouse on Maori land. There are certain additional requirements, contact us for further information.
If you are a member of the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme, contact us to confirm your KiwiSaver start date and find out how much you may be able to access through the first home withdrawal. If you qualify, you can withdraw everything in your account except for $1,000 and any money that may have been transferred into your KiwiSaver account from a complying Australian superannuation fund.
You will then need to complete the First or Second Chance Home Withdrawal form, available by emailing us at email@example.com or by calling us on 0800 427 384. If you have previously owned a property, you will need to apply to Housing New Zealand in the first instance to assess your eligibility for a second chance withdrawal.
If you do intend to withdraw your KiwiSaver money for a first home purchase in the next few years, we recommend that you review your investment direction to ensure it reflects the timeframe you’re working towards.
Please note that it may take up to 15 working days for us to cash up your investments and process your withdrawal, so do contact us as soon as you know that you will need to withdraw your savings for a property purchase.
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Second chance withdrawal
In some circumstances, if you have previously owned a house or land you may still be eligible to withdraw your KiwiSaver savings as a second chance withdrawal. To qualify, you have to satisfy the Housing New Zealand criteria showing that you are in a similar financial position to a first home buyer. You will need to make an initial application to Housing New Zealand, including details of your income and any assets or liabilities, to determine your eligibility. Information about qualifying is on this page of the Housing New Zealand website. You will need to provide confirmation from Housing New Zealand to us with your withdrawal application.
In addition, previous home owners may also be eligible to receive the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant through Housing New Zealand. Check out the Housing New Zealand website for more details and eligibility criteria.
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KiwiSaver HomeStart grant
As well as the first home withdrawal, KiwiSaver members may also qualify for a HomeStart grant from Housing New Zealand.
If you are purchasing an existing home, the grant is $1,000 for each year you have contributed to KiwiSaver, up to a maximum of $5,000. So if you’ve contributed for three years, you could get $3,000; for four years, $4,000; and $5,000 for five years or longer for a single buyer. It's up to $10,000 for two or more buyers.
If you are purchasing a newly built home or a proposed home off plans, the grant is $2,000 for each year you have contributed to KiwiSaver, up to a maximum of $10,000. So if you’ve contributed for three years, you could get $6,000; for four years, $8,000; and $10,000 for five years or longer for a single buyer and up to $20,000 for two or more buyers.
You can only receive the HomeStart grant once.
You are only eligible for the grant if you can meet specific conditions determined by Housing New Zealand, including the following:
You must have contributed the minimum contribution percentage to a KiwiSaver scheme (or complying fund) for at least three years. More details
The minimum percentage of income KiwiSaver members need to contribute is:
4% between 1 July 2007 and 31 March 2009
2% between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2012
3% from 1 April 2013.
This condition applies to everyone applying for the HomeStart grant, even those not legally required to make minimum contributions. This means self-employed KiwiSaver members and beneficiaries will need to contribute the minimum percentage of their income, and non-earners must contribute the minimum percentage of the minimum wage in order to qualify for the grant.
The three year qualification period can be broken up into separate periods. For example, those who take a contributions holiday can still be eligible for the HomeStart grant, as long as the total time spent contributing the minimum rate adds up to three years or more.
The property you purchase (house and land combined) must be within the regional house price caps. More details
The regional house price caps are:
$550,000 for Auckland City;
$450,000 for 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;
$350,000 for the rest of New Zealand.
Your combined total yearly income (before tax) must not be more than:
$80,000 for a single buyer;
$120,000 for two or more buyers.
You must have a deposit that is equal to or in excess of 10% of the purchase price. This can include the HomeStart grant amount you may be eligible for.
See full details on the eligibility criteria for the HomeStart grant on the Housing NZ website and contact them to apply – phone: 0508 935 266.
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Questions and answers
Q: Who is eligible for the KiwiSaver first home withdrawal?
To be eligible you need to have been a member of a KiwiSaver scheme, or a complying fund, for a minimum of three years and you can’t currently own, or have previously owned, property. You must also intend to live in the property you are purchasing as your primary place of residence.
However, previous property owners may be eligible for a second chance withdrawal if they can show that they are in a similar financial position to a first home buyer.
Q: What’s the difference between the first home withdrawal and the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?
The first home withdrawal is part of KiwiSaver and gives you the option to withdraw funds from your KiwiSaver account. It does not have the income and house price caps of the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, but there are some eligibility criteria you will need to meet. Find out more about what you can withdraw and how to apply.
The KiwiSaver HomeStart grant is actually administered by, and run through, Housing New Zealand. The grant is a payment from them rather than from your KiwiSaver account. Find out more about the subsidy and whether you would be eligible.
Q: Can you apply for both the first home withdrawal and the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?
You can apply for, and receive, both the first home withdrawal and the HomeStart grant.
It’s also possible to get one and not the other. For example, you may qualify to get a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal, but you may not meet the eligibility criteria for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant. Alternatively, you may decide to only take the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant from Housing New Zealand, and leave the funds in your KiwiSaver account for your retirement.
Q: Can your partner also apply if you are buying a house together?
If you are buying your first home with a partner, it is possible for each person to make a first home withdrawal from their individual KiwiSaver accounts. Each person may also be eligible for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant.
Q: What if you already own a property? Can you use KiwiSaver to help you buy a second home, for example a rental property?
No, it’s not possible to use KiwiSaver to help buy a second home. One of the criteria for making a first home withdrawal is that you can’t currently own, or have previously owned, a property. So, if you already own a property, you won’t be able to make a first home withdrawal.
If you have previously owned a property, it is possible, in certain circumstances, to qualify for a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal.
You will need to apply to Housing New Zealand in the first instance to assess your eligibility for a second chance withdrawal. They will determine whether you fit the necessary criteria.
Q: What sort of documentation do I need to apply for a first home withdrawal?
Once you’ve contacted your KiwiSaver provider about applying for a withdrawal, they will supply you with a withdrawal form, which you will need to fill in and have signed and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor. You will also need to provide proof of your identity and address.
Your KiwiSaver provider will need a copy of your sale and purchase agreement, to demonstrate both the date the sale goes unconditional and the settlement date. Along with this, you will also need to provide a deposit slip and a letter of undertaking from your solicitor, which will allow them to receive the withdrawal funds on your behalf. Your KiwiSaver provider should be able to supply you with a template letter for your solicitor to complete.
If your application is approved, the money withdrawn from your KiwiSaver account will be paid to your solicitor before your settlement date.
Q: When should I apply for a first home withdrawal?
If you are thinking of applying for a first home withdrawal you should contact your KiwiSaver provider as soon as possible – ideally when you first begin house-hunting. This is because there is a limited timeframe during which a first home withdrawal can be paid.
The KiwiSaver first home withdrawal can only be paid:
once your sale and purchase agreement goes unconditional.
before the settlement date.
As the KiwiSaver first home withdrawal can only be paid between these two dates, it won’t be available to be used as a deposit on your property. It also means that you need to give your provider plenty of time to process your request, as they can only begin to do this in the period between your sale going unconditional and before the settlement date.
If you haven’t started house-hunting, but want to know if you are eligible for a first home withdrawal, you can contact your KiwiSaver provider, who will be able to give you an estimate of how much you may be able to withdraw from your KiwiSaver account.
If you are a member of the Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme, contact us to confirm how much you may be able to access through the first home withdrawal.
Q: When should I apply for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?
To apply for a HomeStart grant, you need to submit an application to Housing New Zealand as soon as possible, ideally at least four weeks before the settlement date. This is because, like the first home withdrawal, a HomeStart grant can’t be paid out after the settlement date. It takes five working days to assess an application, and if you are eligible you will get a letter to confirm the HomeStart grant is available to you.
If you haven’t found a property you like, but want to find out if you are eligible for a HomeStart grant before you start house hunting, you can apply for pre-approval from Housing New Zealand. They will provide you with a letter which shows that you are eligible for the grant, providing:
the house you eventually buy meets the house price cap criteria
you have evidence that you have a deposit that is equal to, or greater than, 10 percent of the house purchase price.
nothing has changed from when you first made your application.
A pre-approval means you are free to house hunt with the knowledge that, providing the house you eventually buy meets the criteria outlined above and that nothing has changed from when you made your application, you will be eligible for the grant.
If you have pre-approval, then you just need to send Housing New Zealand your signed sale and purchase agreement, no later than two weeks before your settlement date.
A pre-approval is valid for 180 days and cannot be extended. If you haven’t purchased a property at the end of the 180 days, you will need to make a new application for another pre-approval.
Q: What happens to your KiwiSaver account after you make a withdrawal?
After you’ve made a first home withdrawal, your KiwiSaver account will remain open, as it will still contain the $1,000 you must leave in there, and any funds transferred from an Australian superannuation scheme (if you've transferred any). If you choose not to withdraw the full amount you're entitled to, this money will also remain in your account. You can then carry on contributing to your KiwiSaver account and continue to grow your savings for retirement.
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