If you're considering a mortgage, there are a few things to be aware of first:
Can you put down a deposit of at least 5% on the price of the house? Because you'll need to prove you can begin repayments first.
Three years contribution.
That means at least three years' worth of full-time contribution at minimum wage (which can be broken up — it doesn't have to be consecutive years). If you withdraw funds within that time, it may set you back by about six months.
Another point to note is that this waiting period counts for self-employed or non-employed people. If you've got more than one source of income, you need to be contributing from both.
After three years of contribution, you can take out everything you've saved. However, KiwiSaver requires that you leave at least $1,000 in your savings after withdrawal.
There are two sums of money to be aware of here; First Home Grants and deposit subsidies.
First Home Grants.
If you've had KiwiSaver for at least three years and have contributed regularly, you could get between $5,000-10,00 for a first home (depending on whether it's a new or existing build).
If it's a second home you're after, don't panic — you might be able to get something for that.
You should check out your eligibility for the grant scheme online. There's a price cap on housing and other income/debt requirements so that you may find yourself in the cut off bracket. But it's worth trying, as it could save you a lot on a deposit.
Once you hit the third year of KiwiSaver, you can get $1,000 for each year you contributed. So that's 3 X $1,000 or $3,000 the first time around, $4,000 the next, etc.
Another option is shared homeownership under the First Home Partner programme through a third party, such as Kainga Ora or other organisations. The programme then contributes to your deposit to make a downpayment on your house. As the majority owner, you pay off your regular loan and eventually buy out your House Partner.
This option allows people with small deposits to begin a home loan earlier by aligning with a third party.