First Home Loan
A First Home Loan can make it easier for you to get into your first home by lowering the required deposit to 5%.
Finding the deposit for your first home can be a challenge, with most lenders currently requiring a minimum 20% deposit. But with a First Home Loan you only need a 5% deposit, which means getting into your first home is that much easier.
First Home Loans are issued by selected banks and other lenders, and underwritten by Kāinga Ora. This allows the lender to provide loans that would otherwise sit outside their lending standards.
If you are interested in a First Home Loan, discuss your requirements and your individual circumstances with a participating lender.
As well as having a 5% deposit, you need to meet our eligibility criteria for a First Home Loan. You will also need to meet the lending criteria of the participating bank or lender you choose.
To be eligible for a First Home Loan, you must:
- Be a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident, or a resident visa holder who is "ordinarily resident in New Zealand"
- Be a first home buyer, or a previous home owner in a similar financial position to a first home buyer
- Have a before tax income from the last 12 months of:
- $95,000 or less for an individual buyer without dependants; or
- $150,000 or less for an individual buyer with one or more dependants; or
- $150,000 or less (combined) for two or more buyers, regardless of the number of dependants
In addition, you must:
- Have a minimum deposit that is at least 5% of the purchase price of the home you are interested in buying (inclusive of all savings, grants, first-home withdrawals, and gifts)
- Be purchasing a home for you to live in as your primary place of residence
- Not own any other property or land, this does not include ownership of Māori land
- be purchasing a property of less than 1 hectare
- Pay a 0.5% Lender’s Mortgage Insurance premium and loan application fee
(if applied by the lender)
Bank lending criteria
You will also need to meet the lending requirements of a participating bank or lender to service a home loan.
Banks and lenders will have their own lending criteria they will assess you on as part of the lending process, and can include your financial ability to repay the loan, your current level of debt, and your credit history.
Some participating banks and lenders may allow you to build a new home with a First Home Loan. Ask your preferred lender if they do and what their criteria is.
To apply for a First Home Loan, you need to choose a participating lender and complete their loan application form.
A list of participating lenders can be found in the section below. Each lender has their own credit criteria you will need to meet along with the First Home Loan eligibility criteria. Follow the steps below which will guide you through the process.
- Meet the criteria - Ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria set out above.
- Choose a lender - From our list of participating lenders in the section below.
- Get a 5% deposit - If you need help getting together a deposit there are options available.
- Complete lenders loan application - Although the government sets the First Home Loan eligibility criteria, each lender has their own credit criteria that must be met.
You can either apply for a First Home Loan pre-approval or a final approval.
- Pre-Approval - Applying for a pre-approval will allow you to confirm that you fit the eligibility criteria and the lender’s lending criteria. The lender will be able to advise you the amount that they are prepared to lend you. You can then look for a suitable property in that house price range. Once you have found a property, you return to the lender to gain a final loan approval.
- Final Approval - if you have already found a property that you wish to purchase with a First Home Loan, you could apply for a final approval. In this circumstance, the lender will assess that both your circumstances, and the property fit the loan requirements.
Help with your deposit
There is help available if you are having trouble saving your deposit:
- Your deposit can be gifted by a relative
- You can also use two features provided by KiwiSaver if you have been contributing regularly for at least three years, you may be eligible for a First Home Grant and a KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal.
- First Home Grant: provides eligible first-home buyers with a grant of up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for couples to put towards the purchase of an existing home.
- First-home withdrawal: eligible members can withdraw their KiwiSaver contributions (including tax credits). However at least $1,000 must remain in their KiwiSaver account.
Not yet a member of KiwiSaver? Go to www.ird.govt.nz/kiwisaver(external link) to find out about joining.
Here are some links that may be of help to you
Whilst Kāinga Ora sets the eligibility criteria, it is the bank or lender that assesses First Home Loan applications, and makes the final lending decision.
Participating lenders credit criteria
In addition, you will need to meet the lending criteria of a participating bank or lender before a First Home Loan can be made. This can include your financial ability to repay the loan, your current level of debt, and your credit history.
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If I am turned down by a lender, will I get turned down by another lender?
Each lender can use slightly different lending criteria. You should talk to participating lenders about your individual circumstances.
What is the difference between a ‘vendor’ deposit and a ‘financial’ deposit?
The financial deposit is the amount that you need to contribute towards the purchase of the property. Most lenders require at least a 20% deposit. With First Home Loan, you need a 5% deposit. A vendor deposit is if the seller of the property requests an amount to secure the property prior to settlement. This normally sits with the real estate agent until settlement date. You cannot use a First Home Grant grant to pay a vendor deposit.
Is First Home Loan mortgage insurance?
No. First Home Loan is a form of ‘Lenders Mortgage Insurance’ which insures lenders against loss if a loan repayment goes into default. ‘Mortgage Insurance’ is a different type of insurance, that protects borrowers in the event that their circumstances changes, and the loan repayment goes into default.
What will a First Home Loan cost me?
Each participating lender will have their own interest rates and fees. One of those fees is to reimburse the lender for the Lenders Mortgage Insurance premium Kāinga Ora charges to insure each First Home Loan. The amount of this fee is 0.5% of the loan amount. This amount can be added onto the loan.
Do all First Home Loan lenders have identical requirements for the First Home Loan?
Not necessarily. Kāinga Ora sets the minimum criteria that participating lenders must met, but lenders are able to apply slightly different credit criteria, provided that they meet our’s as a minimum.
What happens if my circumstances change after I receive the loan?
If your circumstances change after you take out the loan you should speak to your lender about your changed circumstances. They will work with you to help you to continue to re-pay the loan.
Page updated: 13 July 2023