One of the best incentives for young people to join KiwiSaver is the ability to withdraw funds for the purchase of a first home. All but $1,000 can be withdrawn providing certain criteria are met. You need to have been a KiwiSaver member for at least three years and you must not have owned property before unless special circumstances apply. A Home Start grant of up to $5000 per person for an existing house and $10,000 for a new house is also available if your income and the value of the house you are buying are within certain limits, and you may also be eligible for a Welcome Home Loan, for which you only need a 10% deposit.
There are some traps to watch out for. If you purchase or inherit a piece of land on which to build a house, after that time you will not be a first home owner and you will not be able to withdraw your KiwiSaver funds. Funds transferred into your KiwiSaver from an Australian superannuation scheme are not available to purchase a house. To be eligible for a Home Start grant, you need to have been a contributing member of KiwiSaver for three years or more. If you stop work, for example by going on maternity leave, you may need to keep up contributions at a reasonable level to stay eligible. This can be done by contributing $20 a week directly to your KiwiSaver fund. It can take up to a month to process a Home Start grant and it is best to apply for a pre-approval for both the Home Start grant and Welcome Home Loan to make sure you are eligible. The pre-approval will last for six months, giving you time to find house with the knowledge that you have finance available.