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NEW ZEALAND’S FIRST HOME BUYER ESSENTIALS

By Alana Saunders

There are six huge moments in your life. You’ve got your birth, your first day at school, graduating university, buying your first home, getting married and retiring – we think it’s important to make sure each of these life changing occasions is special.

We may not be able to help you out with the other five, but we can certainly make sure buying your first home lives up to expectations. To that end, we’ve put together a first home guide to the getting the basics right.

FINANCE ESSENTIALS

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data puts the average property price in the country at $490,000.

As you’ll know, property in New Zealand is not cheap. Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data puts the average property price in the country at $490,000 up over 9 per cent, over the year ending January 2017. Auckland’s is obviously higher, at $805,000.

These high prices mean that getting your finances spot on is more important than ever. Firstly consider using a mortgage broker when selecting a home loan – the service could save you thousands.

Next make sure that you buy well within your means so that you’re protected against changes in interest rates or your circumstances.

PICKING A LOCATION

This is a particularly difficult decision, especially for Auckland residents. For most buyers in the big cities compromising on what you want will be necessary thanks to high house prices – perhaps a smaller home or a location further out of the city.

If you do move further out find an affordable growth area where possible. That way you’ll be able to find an home that fits your budget and will only climb in value, increasing your equity and allowing you to move into a large, more central home sooner.

In Auckland these suburbs may include places like Papakura or Franklin, where average values are still under $600,000, according to QV. Finding those pockets of value in your own area is easy with the help of a local real estate agent.

Considering alternatives

Buying your first home as your primary residence isn’t the only way to get on the ladder.

Buying your first home as your primary residence isn’t the only way to get on the ladder. Rentvestment is an increasingly popular option that entails renting your home and buying your first property elsewhere as an investment.

This allows you to live wherever you want to while still taking advantage of the benefits of owning property. New loan to value ratio (LVR) rules make this more difficult requiring a 40 per cent deposit for investors, however, there are ways to work with these rules like buying a new build.

Other popular alternatives include using a guarantor or buying with friends.

USING KIWISAVER

Kiwisaver is a godsend for young home buyers. You may be able to withdraw most of what’s in your account to buy property – provided you’ve been a member for at least three years.

You also may be eligible for a rather generous first HomeStart grant, courtesy of the New Zealand government. For purchasing an existing home, the grant is between $3,000 and $5,000 ($1,000 for every year of membership.). For a new build it’s double that, to a maximum of $10,000.

If you’re buying your first home soon, contact your KiwiSaver provider soon to find out if you’re eligible.

APARTMENT OR HOUSE

Apartments may be more affordable, require less maintenance and cost less to live in.

This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make. Apartments may be more affordable, require less maintenance and cost less to live in, in terms of bills and utilities.

On the other hand there may be body corporate fees involved, your living space might be smaller and you may not be able to renovate. Plus capital gains for apartments are generally lower.

Houses on the other hand will offer more space, the ability to renovate, easier car parking and higher value gains. On the other hand a house may be more expensive, as well as costing more to maintain.

PRE-PURCHASE ESSENTIALS

Once you’ve made all of the above decisions and consulted with a mortgage broker, as well as a local real estate agent, you’re halfway there. However, before you purchase there are a range of checks you’ll need to run, and costs you may incur. Here are a few of the most common:

  • A building report: will make you aware of any issues with the property’s structure.
  • Lenders mortgage insurance: a one off cost paid to your lender if you’re borrowing at a high LVR.
  • Water and council rates: paid to local government.
  • Moving expenses: often underestimated.
  • Home insurance: some lenders will make it compulsory for borrowers to have this insurance.

If you’ve ticked all the boxes and you’re ready to go, get in touch with your local real estate agent. With a trusted advisor by your side you can be sure your first home will be the start of something brilliant.

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