Helping hand into first home

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On the ladder . . . Nick and Demi Hall, with children Meila (nine months), Delta (3) and Aylah (2), outside their new home. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

An Oamaru couple are lauding an initiative that has helped get them on the property ladder far earlier than they expected.

Nick and Demi Hall, who have three children, have bought a Raglan St house with the help of FirstHome, a Housing New Zealand initiative.

Mr and Mrs Hall had saved about $17,000 for a deposit on a house before they found out about the scheme, which gives eligible buyers a grant of 10% of the purchase price, capped at $20,000.

“We actually just went for a walk down town and walked past [Property Brokers] just as they had put the flyer up in the window,” Mrs Hall said.

“We were looking at a house and we only had a 10% deposit and the mortgage broker said we were probably wasting our time with a deposit of 10% . . . we were pretty gutted about it.”

The couple decided to apply for a grant through the scheme and received $19,000.

Along with the $17,000 they had already saved, it meant the couple had $36,000 to put down – more than the 20% deposit required to buy the $170,000 house.

Instead of paying $310 a week in rent, from October 21, when they take possession of their new home, Mr and Mrs Hall will be paying a lower amount in mortgage payments.

Mr Hall said the money they would save would go towards renovating their home.

“We’re going to be able to put money into it and make it our own. We do have to replace the ceiling in the lounge and we’re going to paint it, room by room.”

Mrs Hall believed owning a home before their three children started school was a huge advantage for the family.

FirstHome is a home ownership scheme aimed at helping eligible buyers into properties Housing New Zealand is selling across the country.

It is designed to support first-home buyers, especially people with modest incomes who have difficulty saving for a deposit but people who have previously owned a home may also be eligible if their financial situation is similar to that of a first-home buyer.

The homes are exclusively available for first-home buyers for a minimum of three months.

If the house is not sold then it may be placed on the open market.

The Government’s sell-off of state housing has not been without controversy. Labour has argued two-thirds of houses are being sold below official valuation and that people are left on waiting lists while state houses are being left empty and then sold.

Housing New Zealand announced in July it would spend $2 billion to build and buy more than 4000 state houses – 3200 of which will be in Auckland.