From saving for a deposit, to navigating the First Home Grant, and comparing mortgages; our simple guide is here to help you get the keys to your first place.

Buying your first home can be thrilling. With it comes the freedom to paint and renovate as you’d like, a chance to escape that overbearing landlord you’ve been dealing with for years, and the space to start a family. But there are a lot of things you should know as you set out on the path to becoming a first-home buyer. The property market can be a confusing – and competitive place. How much do you need to save for a first-home loan deposit? Can you use KiwiSaver contributions? What is the First Home Grant scheme? 

We’ve got you covered with this real life guide to buying your first home, which could help take some of the stress out of one of the most exciting experiences of your life.

First home buyers guide: What to know about buying your first home

The first, and for many, hardest, step in buying a property is saving a deposit. How much you need to save and how long that will take depends on several factors, including how much your home might cost, your income and your lifestyle.

Saving up tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars can seem intimidating. That’s why one of the first things you could do is set a deposit target. To get an idea of how much you’ll need, research areas in which you want to buy. It could be a good idea to look at recent sale prices of homes that are similar to ones you have your eye on, and check out average year-on-year percentage price increases. This should give you a good idea of how much your first home could cost.

You might’ve heard that the recommended deposit amount to set your saving sights on is 20% of your new home’s purchase price. While this might seem like a mammoth task, we’ve got a few considerations to help you break it down:

What is the First Home Grant?

Well, we’re glad you asked as this could help you get on the property ladder that bit sooner. The First Home Grant, an initiative from Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, is a grant for eligible New Zealanders who have been making regular KiwiSaver contributions for at least three years. 

How much is the First Home Grant?

The First Home Grant differs depending on how long you’ve been contributing to KiwiSaver for, and what type of property you’re looking to purchase. As of January 2023, the scheme provides between $3,000 – $5,000 depending on how long you’ve been making KiwiSaver contibutions for. The grant then doubles if you are looking to purchase a new home or land to build your first dream home on! 

Hints on how to start saving for your home loan deposit

Create a budget and see what non-essential purchases you may want to cut out or reduce.

Set your savings target and make a realistic timeframe with some checkpoints along the way.

See if you can consolidate or pay out any existing debts so you spend less of your potential savings on these.

Set up an account for your first home deposit with automatic deposits from your pay – and don’t transfer the money out.

Consider downsizing temporarily – potential short-term rental pain for long-term home ownership gain.

A heads up on other first-home buyer’s fees

Your deposit isn’t the only thing you have to take into account as a first-home buyer. Regardless of how much you need to save for your deposit, you also need to factor in additional costs to finalise the purchase of your home, including the following: