Buying any home is a big life decision. Navigating the housing market is hard enough, and then securing finance on top of that can be a major stress for first home buyers. The KiwiSaver Homestart Grant scheme was introduced by our Government to help alleviate some of that stress, but there’s some confusion around who’s eligible and what the grant actually entails. Let’s take a look and see how one could help you take a step closer to getting the keys to your first home.
1. What is a Homestart Grant?
Designed specifically for first-home buyers, the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant is a helping hand from the Government between $3,000 and $10,000. The amount varies depending on particular circumstances around your income, living situation and the house you’re looking at purchasing.
2. How do I know if I’m eligible?
You must be over the age of 18, and mustn’t already own any land or property or have earnt over $85,000 in the last 12 months if you’re applying on your own, or $130,000 if you’re applying with your partner. You also need to have been contributing to an approved KiwiSaver scheme for at least three year and depending on whether you plan to build or purchase a home, there are regional limits on their price. For Canterbury it’s $500,000 for an existing home and $550,000 for a new one. For a full eligibility checklist visit the Housing New Zealand website.
3. Do I need to be a KiwiSaver member to apply for a Home start grant?
The simple answer is yes. To apply you must be a member of a KiwiSaver scheme, complying fund or exempt employer scheme. If you’re unsure whether your scheme is eligible simply contact your provider.
4. I’m self-employed, do I qualify for the HomeStart grant?
Yes, you may still be eligible if you earn under the required thresholds and have been contributing for three years. As proof, you’ll need to supply copies of your personal IR3 statements, as well as copies of Notice of Assessments and Return Acknowledgements from IRD covering the period you’ve contributed to KiwiSaver.
5. I’ve had a number of employers in the last few years - do I qualify for the HomeStart grant?
Absolutely. As long as you’ve been contributing to an approved fund for three years while you’ve been working you’re still eligible to apply.
6. I've been living overseas and have just come back to New Zealand and want to buy a home - can I get the Home start grant?
Maybe. This is a grey area because when you stop working in New Zealand your contributions to KiwiSaver automatically stop as well. Housing New Zealand states that if no voluntary contributions are made during periods of non-income, then that period will not count towards eligibility for the HomeStart grant. So, if you were signed up to a scheme before you left and have made the required voluntary contributions over a period of at least three years, you may be eligible. In these circumstances, it’s important to contact your scheme provider.
7. Where can I find more info on the application process?
Visit the Housing New Zealand website and the IRD’s HomeStart page for more info on HomeStart grants, and to make sure you’ve been a KiwiSaver contributor for 3 years here’s how you can find your contribution statement:
- Head to www.kiwisaver.govt.nz
- Click on ‘My KiwiSaver’
- Login using your IRD Online Services username and password
- Select ‘View Transactions’
- Click on the drop down box to select ‘Deductions from Salary/Wages’
- Change the start date to ‘1st July 2007’ (default date for the KiwiSaver scheme)
- Apply filter
- Click ‘view all pages’ then print
If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to contact your scheme provider for a detailed voluntary contribution statement. And as these grants are one-off, you can’t apply if you’ve already received one.