HomeStart assisting Selwyn residents into own homes

Selwyn news
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Home ownership is important because it brings security to individuals and their families.

That’s why the Government has a wide-ranging programme aimed at improving housing supply and affordability.

As part of this programme, last April the Government doubled the level of financial support available for first-home buyers through the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.

Recently I have been contacted by some Selwyn families, thanking me for the Government’s HomeStart programme. These families have told me that their dream of owning their own brand new home in Selwyn was previously out of reach but that being able to access their KiwiSaver funds for a deposit has enabled them to do just that.

Between 1st April last year and 31st March this year, 110 properties have been purchased in Selwyn using Homestart grants worth a total of $1.21 million.

The same scenario is playing out around the country, with the figures showing that in its first year the scheme has helped 11,943 people into their first home, with grants totalling $55.6 million.

And to make the scheme even stronger, the Government has decided to alter one aspect of the KiwiSaver home buyer programme in respect of second-chance home-buyers.

The change being made from July aims to better help mid-life, middle-income New Zealanders who have been through a separation or business failure and are struggling to get back into home ownership by enabling them to access their KiwiSaver funds.

The way the current scheme works is that it limits KiwiSaver withdrawals to first home buyers and people who have previously owned property but have low assets and earnings. The asset limit is twenty percent of the house price caps of $550,000, $450,000 and $350,000, and the income limit is $120,000 for a couple and $80,000 for an individual.

The income limits are being removed on 1 July 2016, meaning a second-chance homeowner with few assets will be able to access their KiwiSaver funds to buy a home regardless of how high their income is.

Other steps that the Government has taken to help make home ownership more affordable include rolling out housing accords to release more land for development. One such accord was signed here in Selwyn by my colleague Dr Nick Smith, Minister for Building and Housing, and Selwyn Mayor Kelvin Coe last December.

With mortgage interest rates at their lowest levels in half a century and these additional changes to the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme, there will be even more opportunities for people to buy their own home in Selwyn.