Find out everything you need to know about using your KiwiSaver savings to buy your first home.
A lot of would-be first-home buyers are sitting on quite healthy KiwiSaver balances. Yet, not everyone is aware their KiwiSaver savings can help them get into that first property. Here’s an overview of what you need to know for a first home withdrawal.
Getting a first home deposit together isn’t easy, especially in the current property market where the amount needed is increasing far faster than many are able to save.
But your KiwiSaver savings could provide just the turbo boost you need to get over the line and into your first home.
Access to KiwiSaver savings has been designed to be first-home-buyer-friendly, and so the requirements aren’t tricky. You just have to have had a KiwiSaver account for at least three years, you need to intend to live in the home you purchase or are planning to build, and you have to be a first-time buyer – although there are some exceptions made for ‘second chance’ applicants who haven’t already used their KiwiSaver savings for a property (see details here).
If you meet the qualifying criteria, you can draw on all your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and the government’s contributions, apart from the last $1000, which has to stay invested in your KiwiSaver account.
(If you have transferred your Australian Super Funds into your KiwiSaver account, these must also remain in your KiwiSaver account until you are 60 and meet the Australian Super retirement criteria.)
A good time to be a conservative KiwiSaver investor
Once you know you can call on that money, you need to make sure your KiwiSaver account is optimised to match your ‘let’s get a house’ plan.
The first thing you should do is check your KiwiSaver account settings. If you’re in a growth fund, consider moving into a conservative fund to mitigate any market volatility between now and when you need to make your home withdrawal. It pays to be a little careful, and as a general rule of thumb, we would encourage you to move to a conservative fund if you plan to buy a house within three years. You can change back to a growth fund when you have the house keys in your hand.
You can change your fund type in your Generate online account, or contact us if you’d like to talk about your options.
Consider maximising your KiwiSaver contributions
Think about increasing your KiwiSaver contributions between now and when you plan to withdraw the funds to buy your first home. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sound sense. Between now and settlement day, your savings are most likely going to perform better in KiwiSaver – even in a conservative fund – than they would on the interest in a basic bank deposit account.
To increase your contributions, ask your employer for a KS2 form, and select the percentage of your salary you want paid into your KiwiSaver account. You can also make additional voluntary payments into your account as and when you want to. See details here.
Don’t forget the First Home Grant!
A KiwiSaver First Home Grant is available to eligible buyers for their first home, and also to approved ‘second chance’ applicants. Existing home purchases can get a grant of up to $5000, rising to a maximum of $10,000 for new-builds. Check the eligibility criteria here.
Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities administers the First Home Grant, and there is a cap on the house value which varies depending on what area you’re looking to buy. You will find all the qualifying info here.
Time to buy? Plan your KiwiSaver withdrawal
Again, withdrawal is a pretty straightforward process but does require a bit of paperwork and input from your lawyer and must be submitted 10 days before you need the funds (either for your deposit or settlement). Note that if you’re buying at an auction, you can only use your KiwiSaver savings as part of your settlement (rather than your deposit), given that a typical auction timeline doesn’t allow for the 10-day processing window required to withdraw your KiwiSaver funds.
See details on the paperwork required here. You’ll find the First Home withdrawal application form and eligibility letter information in your online account under the ‘Tools’ section.
Once you’re settled into your home, we recommend you do switch your KiwiSaver account settings to growth, so you can reap the long-term benefits of regular savings for the next time you’ll access your KiwiSaver funds – the day you turn 65.
At Generate we offer a Growth Fund and a Focused Growth Fund. While these are both great options for long-term savers, there is a difference between them; our Focused Growth fund carries slightly more risk than our Growth Fund, as a higher percentage of it is invested in ‘growth assets’ (shares, international equities and property). This means that, while it might be more affected by short-term market fluctuations, the Focused Growth Fund has the potential to earn more over the long term.
You can choose which KiwiSaver fund type you want in your Generate account. Simply click on ‘My Investments’ and then ‘Adjust Fund’ to review your options.
Our website provides further information on how to access your KiwiSaver savings to help fund your first home purchase. If you have any questions or want to check your eligibility, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
You can call on 0800 855 322 or email us at email@example.com