Buying a first house necessitates careful preparation and, most importantly serious budgeting! These first home buyer tips can assist you in budgeting for the total cost of purchasing a home, which includes the building report, valuation, legal bills, and other expenses. If you have KiwiSaver you may be eligible for assistance for your first home via the First Home Scheme run via Kainga Ora on behalf of the Government.

Putting money aside for your deposit on your first home

Setting a savings target is the first phase toward saving for a house deposit.

With recent increases in house prices across New Zealand, there could be opportunities to borrow with as little as a 10% or even 5% deposit. So, if you’re purchasing a $600,000 home, you’ll need to save $60,000 for a 10% deposit or maybe $30,000 for a 5% deposit.

However, the smaller the deposit, the higher the risk for the lenders. Loans that are for more than 80% of a property’s valuation usually have higher fees and interest rate to reflect the higher risk These fees may differ greatly. Some banks levy a fee for mortgage repayment insurance, while others raise interest rates to compensate for the risk, some do a combination of both!

Lenders have traditionally required a minimum deposit of at least 20% of the house price for a home loan. As a result, a deposit of at least $120,000 will be needed for that $600,000 home., however, keep reading as there may be some further options you can consider.

Tools to save your down-payment for your first-home

When you’ve determined how much you need to save for a home, create a budget using a budget planner. It can mean sacrificing non-essentials for a while, but the joy of owning your first home will be well worth it!

If there’s a gap between what you’d spend in interest payments versus what you’re now spending in rent, it’s a smart idea to start setting the money aside on a regular basis. It can provide you (and your lender) an indication of how well the household expenditure will handle the situation. Use this  FREE savings tracker to see how much money you will save in a short period of time.

Kāinga Ora: Government assistance for your first home deposit

Under the government’s First Home Loan Scheme, you may be able to purchase a first home with as little as 5% deposit. However, you will need to have NO other debt and your account conduct with the bank and your credit record has to be excellent with no unpaid accounts or late payment charges.

You may be considered for a First Home Grant if you’ve been contributing to a KiwiSaver scheme for at least three years. You can get $1,000 per year for each year you have been contributing up to a maximum of $5,000 for an existing home or $10,000 for a new home.

If you have a partner or a friend or family member who wishes to purchase the home with you this can mean that you can both get the grants and you will have up to $10,000 for an existing home or $20,000 for a new home. Each region in New Zealand has maximum buying limits which are set by the Government.   Other residency requirements must be met, as well as area house price limits.

After three years in KiwiSaver, you may be able to take all, apart from $1,000 of the funds in your KiwiSaver account to support the purchase of your first house. This is referred to as a KiwiSaver withdrawal. Learn more about the KiwiSaver withdrawal scheme on their official page 

Deciding when to buy your first home

It’s likely that your first house would not be your perfect home because it’s your first home, not your last home. It’s pointless to buy a house if you can’t afford to make your mortgage payments. So the key here is to – “Buy a home you can afford and make it into a home you love!”.

If you want to purchase an apartment or a townhouse? Check with your mortgage adviser to see how much money you may be able to borrow against an apartment.  There is usually some minimum square footage rules that apply and it’s important that you understand what this will mean for you.  Apartment living is becoming an increasingly good option for first home buyers and I think this trend will continue in order to help address the housing supply issues currently in New Zealand.

Securing your financial future

If you are thinking beyond your first home purchase and are looking to secure your financial future as soon as possible. It may be relevant to consider what opportunities exist for you to live in your first home for a few years, pay down the mortgage and then use the equity you have built up to purchase a new home for yourselves. You could then rent out your existing home and use the income from the rent to cover the mortgage cost.

Think about stuff like:

  • Is the house near public transportation?
  • Is it possible to cycle to stores and schools?
  • Is the rental demand in the neighbourhood robust?

Obtaining a first-time home mortgage

Your first mortgage is likely to be the most significant financial investment you’ll ever make.

Before purchasing a house, most of us look at many options. It’s a smart idea to exercise the same caution when selecting a mortgage. It’s important to understand how being smart with your repayments could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

There are many options and it’s important you understand how to structure your loan so that it works for you and is fit for purpose. There are several different kinds of mortgages, each with its own interest rate, costs, and affordability. These factors will all have an effect on how quickly you repay your mortgage and how much interest you pay over the term of the loan.

Taking to a good mortgage adviser (broker) will assist you to achieve a great result.  It is part of my role as a Mortgage Adviser to  keep abreast of all lenders policies and what they offer so that when I assess the information for a mortgage application.

I know who will be the best lender to submit to loan application to in order to get it approved quickly and then I negotiate on your behalf to get a good package for you.

One important point to note is if you are applying to each lender yourself a credit enquiry is made on you. This includes the type of credit applied for, the amount of credit and the number of credit enquiries over a period of time can all have an impact on your credit score.

One of the biggest impacts of credit enquiries that often catches people unaware is “shopping around for credit”.

If you make a number of credit applications in a short space of time, it can result in a number of credit enquiries being listed on your credit report. This can have a negative impact on your score and the way lenders see you.  As a result of a credit check, your application for the mortgage will be recorded on your credit report. This is regardless of whether the lender accepts your application, or you decide to proceed with the loan.

The credit enquiry will stay on your credit report for five years from that date. Consequently, is not appropriate or in your best interest to submit an application to all lenders. Mortgage Advisers know this and they will be well aware of which lender is best for your personal situation.  So, keep this in mind.

Fees charged by lawyers

If you want to get a mortgage, you need to have a lawyer as lenders will only use lawyers to register a mortgage and sign the loan documentation.  Look for a good property lawyer, shop around for fee comparisons, but remember – you pay for what you get!

LIMs and builder’s reports

A builder’s report may reveal some potential issues with the home you’re considering purchasing. A qualified building inspector will notice details that the untrained eye will overlook, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. Your mortgage adviser will let you know if the lender requires a building report.  However, if you are buying an existing home it is always wise to get one done.

A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) recognizes any problems with the land on which the house is constructed, such as drainage and the possibility of landslips. Your lawyer will arrange to get this for you as it needs to be done just before settlement to ensure there are no potential issues.

Costs in relocating

When you purchase your first house, the mortgage is only one of the expenses you’ll have to deal with. You’ll need to budget for expenses such as:

  • Truck rental for moving
  • Fees for cellular, power, and Internet connections
  • Repairs or decorating
  • Advertisements for roommates or tenants?

Other expenses

In your new life as a homeowner, you’ll need to account for more than just mortgage payments. So be sure to factor in home insurance, rates and other reoccurring expenses.

Insurance for your home, its contents, and your mortgage

When you have a mortgage, the lender will want you to have it properly insured as they have their interest noted on the insurance policy.

You will need to consider life and mortgage repayment insurance in addition to the home and belongings insurance. Keep in mind that Lenders Mortgage Insurance protects the bank, not you if you default on your loan.

Local Council Rates

When you become a first home buyer, you automatically become a ratepayer too so you will need to include these in your budget.  A good mortgage adviser will have included this in your budget so you should not get any surprises!

City Councils levy rates to offset the costs of services like bridges, electricity, sewerage, and parks.  You can look up a property’s rates on the website of the local government.  Your mortgage adviser will be happy to provide you with this information.

Fees charged by the body corporate

If you purchase an apartment or townhouse it may have a ‘unit title’. There may be further fees called ‘body corporate’ fees. This will cover things like maintenance and common room cleaning.  Your lawyer will ensure you are fully aware of any costs and obligations with regard to these fees and your mortgage adviser will have discussed this with you as your lender needs to know about any ongoing fees being charged.

Where to go for help

If you would like a “no obligation” discussion around your options for buying a first home, or just need someone to run your budget by, feel free to reach out at 027 436 8367 or click here 

When you look at the average property prices in New Zealand, it’s easy to understand why saving for a mortgage can sound almost impossible for many first home buyers.

The median prices paid by first home buyers this year, according to REINZ Monthly Property for April 2021 as follows:

Median house prices for New Zealand excluding Auckland increased by 23.6% from $550,000 in March last year to $680,000, a new record high for the country.

Auckland’s median house price increased by 18.5% from $945,000 in March 2020 to $1,120,000 in March 2021 – a new record for Auckland prices. Other regions which reached record high’s include:

  • Waikato’s median price increased by 22.7% from $595,000 in March 2021 to $730,000 in March 2021.
  • Hawkes Bay median price increased by 30.5% from $545,000 in March 2021 to $711,000 in March 2021
  • Canterbury’s median high increased by 17.8% from $488,000 in March 2020 to $575,000 in March 2021. Also, Christchurch City ($600,000) Timaru District ($430,000) and Waimakariri District ($565,000) all reached median highs in March 2021.
  • Otago had a 30.8% increase from $535,000 in March 2020 to $700,000 in March 2021.
  • Southland with a 12.2% increase from $370,000 in March 2021. Additionally, Invercargill District reached a record median high of $430,000.

If first home buyers want to save a 20% mortgage, that means they’ll need to save $100,000 to buy a house in most parts of the New Zealand. For eg, a $600,000 property would need a $120,000 deposit.

So, what would first home buyers do to save up enough money for a deposit?

Let’s take a look at some of the possible solutions…

Set a target and get planning

First up, there is no escaping the fact that – short of a Lotto win or an inheritance – most people have to save more money to get a deposit. And that requires spending less than you earn and putting aside the difference.

It might sound straightforward, but these days it’s not. For previous generations, it was enough to not be bad with money, but that’s no longer the case. Instead, you have to set a realistic savings goal, based on what you earn, and create a targeted plan to achieve it. This involves working out what size deposit you will need and what you can afford to save to reach their goal.

As part of this, you’ll have to consider your property criteria as, where and what you want to buy is a factor in establishing the deposit required. Often people will have to review their expectations, the key is to “buy what you can afford and make it into a home you love”. A basic entry-level first home is a good step to get on the property ladder. Focus on your immediate needs, not what you need in 4 or 5 years time.  It’s your first home – not your last home.

Instead, you have to establish a practical savings target, depending on your income and devise a strategy to reach it. This entails calculating how much of a deposit you’ll need and how much you are prepared to sacrifice to reach your target.

Some General Savings hints:

These hints show you how to save money in many different ways.

Take every opportunity to save money even if it is only one dollar. Remember, that a lot of small amounts add up to a large sum over the course of a year.

Buy second-hand goods whenever possible. Doing this can save you a large amount of money. The Internet, garage sales, classified advertisements, fairs and auctions can provide some great bargains.

Make every effort to avoid buying on credit. Interest and other charges can greatly increase the amount you pay.

Work out how much you are paid per hour by dividing the amount you receive by the hours you work. Before buying something, think of how many hours of work it will take to pay for it. Fly buys and other loyalty schemes may cost you money if you do not buy from the cheapest retailer or if you buy things you do not need in order to get extra points.

Whenever it is worthwhile, mend clothes, glue broken items and repair things that are not working. Avoid paying people to do work that you can do yourself or which you can learn to do from a do-it-yourself book or by taking a course. You could offer to do work for a friend in exchange for them helping you with a job requiring their skills.

Investing in Kiwi Saver is worthwhile because you get contributions from your employer and $1000 and tax credits from the Government.  The $1000 contribution only applies to those who joined before 2pm on 21 May 2015. New members who join after this date are not eligible for the payment.

Check to find out which Provider looks to be suitable for you. Go to fund finder.

Borrow books, music, art, dvd’s, etc from your local library. Join a toy library if you have young children.

Surveys show that what children want more than anything else is their parents’ time. Buying expensive clothes and toys is no substitute for your time.

Do not borrow or spend more than you can afford for birthday and Christmas presents. You could talk to family and relatives about cutting back on the value or number of presents. Try making presents or buy suitable items when you see them at low prices and keep them until they are needed.

 Children do not know the difference between wants and needs and should be taught money skills. Only give pocket money if you know that it will mainly be used for essentials.

Watch out for concerts and other activities that cost little or nothing to attend. If you need a holiday, try swapping houses with a family in another town or go to cabins in a camping ground.

Investigate your deposit options

While a 20% down payment is a decent starting point, some first home buyers can purchase a house with a lower deposit. Depending on your circumstances, your credit record, your account conduct, current debts, and if you meet a bank’s criteria, deposits of 10% or even 5% may be available.

If you’ve been a member of a KiwiSaver scheme for three years you will take out all apart from $1,000 to put toward your first home purchase.

Kāinga Ora: Government assistance for First Home Buyer deposit

Under the government’s First Home Loan Scheme, you may be able to purchase a first home with as little as 5% deposit. However, you will need to have NO other debt and your account conduct with the bank and your credit record has to be excellent with no unpaid accounts or late payment charges.

You may be considered for a First Home Grant if you’ve been contributing to a KiwiSaver scheme for at least three years. You can get $1,000 per year for each year you have been contributing up to a maximum of $5,000 for an existing home or $10,000 for a new home.

If you have a partner or a friend or family member who wishes to purchase the home with you this can mean that you can both get the grants and so you will have up to $10,000 for an existing home or $20,000 for a new home. Each region in New Zealand has maximum buying limits which are set by the Government.   Other residency requirements must be met, as well as area house price limits.

After three years in KiwiSaver, you may be able to take all, apart from $1,000 of the funds in your KiwiSaver account to support the purchase of your first house. This is referred to as a KiwiSaver withdrawal.

Learn more about the KiwiSaver withdrawal scheme on their official page 

Distribute the burden

Another option is to see how some of your family is able to assist you with your deposit for your first home. This route is often known as “the bank of mum and dad,” and it usually entails family members gifting some funds or having a loan guarantee using their own home as collateral.

Another way that family and/or friends can help you save money is to let you move in with them if they have space. When you’re younger, moving back in with your parents might be a little bit of a hassle, but it’s a tried-and-tested way to save money on things like rent and expenses.

Reorganize your financial situation

Spending less to increase the savings has received a lot of flak in recent years. But it’s not just giving up on your weekly lavish brunches forever; it’s about minimizing living expenses in a sensible way for a usually short period of time to achieve your goal of home ownership.

The positive thing is that we have greater leverage of our budgets than we thought. It’s easy to fall into bad patterns and it’s difficult to break them. However, you have the ability to alter the situation. Depending on how much you want to achieve the goal of being a first home buyer will determine how much sacrifice you will be willing to make.

Making changes to your lifestyle, such as what you drive, consume, and use for fun is a good strategy to use so minor expenses, such as a regular coffee, add up quickly. 

Other cost-cutting suggestions

  • Using the resources and guidance on, such as mortgage, savings, and budgeting calculators may help you.
  • Get rid of any consumer loans you might have before beginning to save for a deposit, repay and cut up your credit cards.
  • Create a new bank savings account. It’s a smart idea to set one up when the funds aren’t readily available, such as at a branch other than the one used for regular purchases.
  • Consider increasing your KiwiSaver contributions to 8%
  • Increase your money by finding a second job, starting a side business, selling anything you don’t really need, downgrading your transportation, and taking advantage of bargains.
  • Early on, talk to a mortgage adviser, a financial adviser, or an accountant and they have insight and tips that will help you set and achieve your goals.

If you help with understanding your options and how much you can borrow for your first home, please reach out to us or call us at 027 436 8367 to set up an appointment.


One of the key pieces of information to get your head around is how much your mortgage is going to impact on your finances and budget. For first home buyers, this can be a daunting experience as it is the first time that they are likely to have been looking at these sorts of numbers. Do not be discouraged, remember that the mortgage pathway to home ownership is a well-trodden one and both your mortgage adviser at Trish Greenwood Mortgage Adviser and the lender you end up going with are committed to ensuring that the package is manageable within the financial envelope that you have. Indeed, there is a margin of safety built into the process by banking regulations and practice in the New Zealand market.

The advantages of owning your own home are enormous in terms of security and long-term financial independence but like most things in life that are worth working for there is a cost side to the equation. The personal freedoms that come from owning your own home cannot be overstated.

To get a picture of what the regular payments are likely to be you need a mortgage calculator, there are lots of calculators available online. At Trish Greenwood – Mortgage Adviser we have a simple and easy to use example on our website which may help you Mortgage Calculator. From there it is easy to fill in the amount you wish to borrow, current interest rate and term of the loan. The monthly payment figure will be calculated for you.  If you want to know the weekly payment, multiply the monthly payment by 12 and divide by 52.  If you want to know the fortnightly payments, multiply the monthly payment by 12 and divide by 26.

There is an option to have a pdf report emailed to you also.

So, let’s have a look at an example – say you are looking at properties with a target price of $600,000 and you are able to offer a deposit of $120,000. This means you need to borrow $480,000 to make this deal work. Enter $480,000 into the ‘mortgage amount’, select an interest rate (likely to be around 2.29% in the current market), and the term (time duration) of the loan. 30 years is a common term at present and a good option to select for many people. If your circumstances change then the term can be revisited as you go along. Go ‘calculate’ and bingo, you have your monthly payments. In this scenario, we are looking at a monthly payment of $1844.59.

Depending on your circumstances it may well be advantageous for you to choose another payment frequency, but this can easily be arranged when setting up your mortgage. This is something that Trish will discuss with you, so you end up with a package that works for you, not the bank.

Another good mortgage calculator option is Sorted.Org. This is a government supported website that has a range of impartial information relating to personal finances and budgeting. Well, worth having a look around and their mortgage calculator is very user friendly. Plus, there is a range of other informative and credible information on personal finances, both how to manage debt and investment for your benefit and long-term advantage. Sorted also has a great money personality quiz which you can take to help you understand your financial strengths and possible blind spots.  It’s meant to be light hearted and a big of fun but for many, it has proved to be quite accurate.  See how you go!

Another good Sorted tool is their budget planner.  Many of my clients have found it really helpful to use this to keep track of their budget and help them with their savings plan.  Because it’s online, it easy to log in and share the information with a partner or other family members.

Sorted is a free service powered by the CFFC (Commission for Financial Capability), the government funded, independent agency dedicated to helping New Zealanders get ahead financially.

Obviously, there are many scenarios available in regards to the term of the loan and repayment frequency. In simple terms the more often you make payments the quicker your loan reduces and the interest payments over the term of the loan can be significantly less. Paying less interest is always an attractive option!

To work out what may work best for you it is always good to get some expert input. Trish can look at your situation in terms of income, family, matching income to expenditure, factoring in other outgoings and budgeting so that you can maximise your repayment situation. This is one of the advantages of using an experienced mortgage adviser who can take a holistic view of your individual circumstances and give real advice for real life of what can work for you. A mortgage is a long-term commitment and requires planning to make it work well for you.

Remember that any mortgage calculator will only give you a snapshot view “on the day”, but it’s and ideal place to start when you are looking at big picture affordability and to gauge realistically the viability of your proposal. But as always, the devil is in the detail and that is where Trish Greenwood Mortgage Adviser can add real value and give you peace of mind at no cost to you!

Remember that in life there is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’. Mortgage advisers are remunerated by a commission payment from the loan provider, and this is standard across the industry. The value that you get out of the transaction is up to you and your choice –  you don’t pay a fee but the level of service you experience can vary. Choose a mortgage adviser that will go into bat for you, assess your situation accurately and tell you straight up what the deal is. The property market has a range of professional providers that all have responsibilities to their clients. Your Mortgage adviser is someone who is on your side, not the vendors. At Trish Greenwood Mortgages, we represent your best interests as our client and help you navigate the complex world of the property market so that you can feel confident in making your decisions.