First homes for New Zealand families

PM-Headshot-20115-300x267Prime Minister’s Weekly Column

Last week, new figures released confirmed the Government is on track to helping thousands more New Zealanders into their first home. Buying a first home is exciting, but it can also be a challenge for many New Zealanders. That’s why the National-led Government doubled its support for first-home buyers through our new Kiwi Saver Home Start scheme.

From 1 April this year, couples buying a newly-built home can now receive government grants of up to $20,000, and those buying an existing home can get up to $10,000, to put towards buying their first home. In the first six months of the new scheme, almost 6,300 grants were approved for first-home buyers. That’s more than 70 per cent higher than the number of approvals for the previous six months under the old scheme. What’s more – almost 2,500 additional applications have been pre-approved and those people are now looking for the right house to buy. The scheme is helping first-home buyers right across New Zealand, not just in the main cities. In Auckland, 700 grants have been approved. Grants have also been approved for New Zealanders living in towns like Otorohanga, Hastings, Nelson, Kaikoura, and Gore.

 This new $435 million scheme is expected to help around about 90,000 Kiwis into their first home over five years. It’s just one way the Government is helping first-home buyers. Under new rules that came into effect on 1 April, first-home buyers can now withdraw almost all of their Kiwi Saver funds to put towards a deposit on their first home. We’ve also expanded eligibility for the Welcome Home Loans, which help first-home buyers with only a 10 per cent deposit. In the six months to September, nearly 1,200 new Welcome Home Loans were approved.

 The Government is also taking steps to help increase the supply of land for housing, especially in Auckland. Last week we confirmed another nine special housing areas will provide another 1,100 new homes across Auckland. This takes the total number of special housing areas in Auckland to 106, with the potential for more than 48,000 new homes. We’ve also taken steps to constrain building-material costs, cut compliance costs, and improve building-sector productivity.

This National-led Government is continuing to work hard in many areas to help make the Kiwi dream of owning your own home a reality. This week, I am overseas attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris and meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. I look forward to updating you on this trip next week.