Questions and answers

Published: 31 July 2016

A builder with a couple looking at building plans

Do you have questions about the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant? Have a look below and see if these answer your questions.

 


 

Do I have to be a member of KiwiSaver to apply for a HomeStart grant?

Yes, to apply for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant you need to be a contributing member of a KiwiSaver scheme, complying fund or exempt employer scheme for a minimum of three years. You can contact your scheme provider to check eligibility.

Back to the top

 

How many KiwiSaver contributions do I have to make to qualify for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

There is no one answer to this question. Ultimately, it will depend on the type of income you have earned and how often you have made contributions to your KiwiSaver scheme. As a guide the following income types would require the associated number of contributions:

Salary & wage earners – automatic deductions from salary & wages The total number of months in which contributions are received divided by 12 equals or exceeds the relevant period for the grant being sought (3, 4 or 5 years)
Self employed or beneficiary – voluntary contributions Voluntary contributions are made at least annually and the number of years in which contributions are made equals or exceeds the relevant period for which the grant is sought (3, 4 or 5 years)
Mixed salary/waged/benefit & self employed – combination of automatic & voluntary contributions

The total number of month in which regular contributions are received divided by 12 – salary/wage portion

Plus the number of contributions per number of years of self employment/beneficiary income equals or exceeds the relevant period for which the grant is sought (3, 4 or 5 years) – self employed/benefit portion

 

Back to the top

 

I am a previous home owner that wants to apply for both the HomeStart grant and the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal determination. How do I apply for this on the same application?

Unfortunately, you can no longer apply for both of these on the same application form. Due to legislation changes that made the eligibility criteria significantly different from 1 July 2016, these now need to be applied for on different application forms. If you are completing the applications online, you will need to complete two separate applications. When applying for the grant you will firstly need to select the one of the following options:

  • Have you previously owned property/land, but no longer do so, but have yet to find a property/land to buy and want to find out if you can qualify for a pre-approved HomeStart grant?; OR
  • Have you previously owned property/land, but no longer do so, have made an offer to purchase a property/land, have a signed agreement for sale and purchase and want to apply for the HomeStart grant?

    If you also want to apply for the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal determination you need to also complete an application by selecting the following option:
    • Have you previously owned property/land, but no longer do so, and want to apply for a KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal only?

If you are completing hard copy application form, then you are required to complete each of the following:

  • KiwiSaver HomeStart grant pre-approval/approval form; and
  • KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal determination for previous home owner

Please note that if you are a first time home buyer, you will only need to complete a KiwiSaver HomeStart pre-approval/approval form. To withdraw your KiwiSaver contributions, you just need to contact your KiwiSaver scheme provider directly and they will guide you through the process required.

Back to the top

 

As a previous home owner and given there are now two separate house price caps from 1 August 2016, which one do you use to work out if my realisable assets meet the eligibility criteria?

From 1 August 2016, we will use the house price caps for the purchase of existing/older property to assist with the calculation of your level of realisable assets. This means we will be using the following when assessing previous home owners levels of realisable assets:

  • Auckland – $120,000
  • Hamilton City, Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Kapiti Coast District, Porirua City, Upper Hutt City, Hutt City, Wellington City, Nelson City, Tasman District, Waimakariri District, Christchurch City, Selwyn District, Queenstown Lakes District – $100,000
  • Rest of New Zealand – $80,000

Back to the top

 

I have been a KiwiSaver member since February 2009 and contributed each month until I went overseas in March 2010. I worked overseas for the next five years (and made no contributions to KiwiSaver as I could not do so directly from my salary) and returned to New Zealand in June 2015. Since my return I found employment and have restarted making KiwiSaver contributions again. Am I eligible for a $5,000 HomeStart grant?

Whilst we are generally unable to assess someone’s eligibility for the grant until they have submitted an application for consideration, given you have not contributed to KiwiSaver for a minimum of three years you won’t be eligible. Eligibility is not assessed on the period of membership of KiwiSaver but on the total period where contributions have been made. Therefore, unless you have made voluntary contributions whilst overseas, this entire period is not counted towards overall eligibility for the grant.

Back to the top

 

What is meant by a “new property”?

Eligible purchasers can use their KiwiSaver HomeStart grant towards a new property. This includes the following options, provided that the land types are fee simple, stratum estate freehold and leasehold, cross-lease, leasehold and Maori land:

  • A vacant residential section on which a new dwelling will be built

  • A house and land package purchased off the plans

  • A new apartment built off the plans

  • A newly built property, defined as a dwelling of any type that has received its building code compliance certificate less than six months before the date of the buyer’s application

Back to the top

 

What is the maximum grant amount or number of grants that can be used for the purchase of a single dwelling?

For an older/existing property the maximum grant amount is $5,000 per eligible member, capped at a maximum of $10,000 for a single dwelling. For a new property, the maximum grant amount is $10,000 per eligible member, capped at a maximum of $20,000 for a single dwelling.

Back to the top

 

Is there a limit to the value of the house I can purchase and still qualify for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

Yes, the price caps vary by region and now also by existing/older and new properties. From 1 August 2016 the caps are as follows (these caps are only for applications received and assessed under the new criteria that came into effect on 1 August 2016):

Region
House price cap for existing/older properties
House price cap for new properties
Auckland $600,000 $650,000
Hamilton City, Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty District, Kapiti Coast District, Porirua City, Upper Hutt City, Hutt City, Wellington City, Tasman District, Nelson City, Waimakariri District, Christchurch City, Selwyn District, Queenstown Lakes District $500,000 $550,000
Rest of New Zealand $400,000 $450,000

Back to the top

 

I am looking at purchasing a brand new apartment off the plans from a developer. The developer has indicated that to secure the apartment that I want, I need to pay them a $20,000 deposit upfront. Can I use the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant for this?

Yes. If you’re eligible for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, you can arrange for your grant to go towards the first payment that you make under the agreement with the developer. However, the funds will be held in trust or escrow until the property is completed and a code compliance certificate issued.

Back to the top

 

I am buying an existing property. Can the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant be paid as part of the deposit I need to pay to the real estate agent handling the sale?

Unfortunately, no. For the purchase of older/existing properties, the earliest the HomeStart grant can be paid is on the morning of the property settlement.

Back to the top

 

I entered into an agreement to buy a house and land package with a developer several months ago. The property is due for completion in December 2016. I have paid the developer a $40,000 deposit. Can I still apply for the grant and if eligible, when's payment?

You will need to complete a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant application form and submit it along with the required supporting documents. As you are not due to settle until December, this provides sufficient time to process the application and if eligible pay the grant. As you have already paid the deposit to your developer, if you are deemed to be eligible for the grant, then the funds would not be released to your solicitor until the new property is due to settle. Therefore, you will need to provide us with confirmation that the property has received a code compliance certificate and certificate of title no later than 10 working days prior to the agreed settlement date.

Back to the top

 

How soon do I need to move into the property I am building, in order to keep my KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

If you are buying land to build your first home on, or are buying a house off the plans, you must provide a contract that shows the projected date for completion. Your solicitor then needs to advise us when settlement is to occur. You then need to live in the property for at least 6 months from then.

If you are buying an apartment off the plans, you must provide an agreement that shows the projected date for completion. Your solicitor needs to advise us when settlement is to occur. You then need to live in the property for at least 6 months from the settlements date.

Back to the top

 

I am buying a section on which I will have my first home built. What do I need to submit with my application form to show that the land and build costs meet the house price cap for the region?

You will need to provide us with a fixed price building contract that clearly shows the agreed cost to build your home, as well as the agreement for sale and purchase that indicates the purchase price of the land. The contract will also need to show the projected date for completion of the construction. All of this needs to be applied for 4 weeks prior to the settlement date for the land purchase - if eligible, the grant must be used towards the purchase of the land and not the build costs once you already own the land.

Back to the top

 

I am buying land on which I will build a home on. Is there a specific timeframe in which the property must be constructed?

There is no set timeframes where the construction has to be completed by. However, the fixed price build contract that you submit with the application will need to clearly state the anticipated/estimated construction start and completion dates. These are the dates that trigger certain milestones, so if there are significant changes to any of these dates, then either you or your solicitor must advise us immediately.

Back to the top

 

I bought a residential section 6 months ago, but have yet to build a property on it. Am I now able to apply for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant to help with the overall build costs? I have a fixed price build contract and it looks like the land and build costs are less than the house price cap for my region.

Unfortunately not. The KiwiSaver HomeStart grant (as well as the KiwiSaver first-home savings withdrawal funds) funds must be used for the purchase of an estate in land and given that you bought your section 6 months ago, it means that you now have an interest in estate, making you ineligible for the grant. To have potentially been eligible for the grant, you would have needed to have applied for this to assist with the purchase of the land.

Back to the top

 

I am a previous home owner. Can I apply for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant?

Yes. The general eligibility criteria for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant is the same, whether you are a first home buyer or not. However, there is an additional criteria that you are required to meet – that you have realisable assets totalling no more than 20% of the house price cap for the area that you are buying in.. Therefore, provided you no longer have an interest in property and are deemed to be in the same financial position as a first home buyer in terms of income and realisable assets, you could still qualify for the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant.

Back to the top

 

Has there been any recent changes to the KiwiSaver savings withdrawal feature?

From 1 July 2016, previous home owners who no longer own property, could be eligible to withdraw their KiwiSaver savings (including tax credits), as the income cap criteria previously used to assess their financial position is to be removed. From 1 July 2016, only the test of having realisable assets totalling no more than 20% of the house price cap for the area that you are buying in will be used to determine a previous home owners financial position.

Back to the top

 

I have recently moved back to New Zealand after having worked for a number of years in Australia. Whilst over there, I contributed to an Australian Complying Superannuation Scheme, so if I transfer these funds to a KiwiSaver scheme, would I be able to withdraw those funds as part of my overall KiwiSaver first-home savings withdrawal once I was eligible to do so?

No. As there is no first home withdrawal provision through the Australia Complying Fund Superannuation Scheme, any such funds that you transfer to KiwiSaver cannot be withdrawn to help purchase a first home. Those funds cannot be withdrawn until you reach the relevant age of retirement.

Back to the top

 

I bought a home and was awarded a $5,000 HomeStart grant. Due to a change in circumstances, I am not going to be able to live in the property for the designated six months from settlement date. Can I rent the house out, or sell it within the six month period? If not, what happens to the grant I received?

The first thing you should do is to contact the Kiwisaver HomeStart team at Housing New Zealand to discuss the situation and outline the changes of circumstances. They can then guide you through the process and what is involved. However, generally if you do not reside in the purchased property for the minimum six month period, you will likely have to repay the full amount of the grant back to Housing New Zealand.

Back to the top

 

How can I find out more about HomeStart?

For more general information about KiwiSaver HomeStart grant or the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal go to www.kiwisaver-homestart.co.nz (external link) , email kiwisaver.enquiries@hnzc.co.nz or call 0508 935 266.

Back to the top

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×