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Looking To Buy First-Home? Read This

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Housing Minister Chris Bishop has been unable to assure first-home buyers that Government-funded grants and loans aimed at helping Kiwis get on the property ladder will remain available over the next six months. This uncertainty follows a critical review of Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities, which found the organization is not "financially viable" without making significant savings.

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The independent review has led the Government to announce a comprehensive evaluation of its current housing programmes. Over the years, Kāinga Ora has expanded its role from being a state landlord to managing urban development programmes and first home grants. Bishop noted that this expansion has diverted attention from its primary mission of housing New Zealanders.

“Because it does an enormous number of things it has taken its eye off the ball, of the core task of housing New Zealanders and that's what we want to get it back to," Bishop said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Bishop stated that while the Government plans to review all its housing programmes, this work has yet to begin. He acknowledged that the current landscape includes numerous programmes targeting various aspects of New Zealand’s housing problem, suggesting that a more focused and efficient approach is needed.

Bishop has already confirmed that Kiwibuild will be scrapped. However, when questioned about the fate of other programmes assisting first-home buyers, he said: “We’re looking at all the housing products that the Government provides.”

When pressed on whether he could guarantee the continuation of schemes such as the First Home Grant and First Home Loans for those looking to buy a house in six months, Bishop replied: “I can give them a guarantee that we are looking at all of the range of housing products that the Government provides. We are taking a good, hard look at all of them and once we've made a decision on them, I will make announcements about that.” When asked again if he could guarantee their availability, he reiterated, “I think I've answered your question.”

The First Home Loan scheme offers low-deposit loans for eligible first-home buyers, while the First Home Grant provides up to $10,000 towards a deposit for eligible Kiwis purchasing their first home.

Labour's housing spokesperson, Kieran McAnulty, acknowledged that these schemes have helped first-home buyers enter the housing market. However, he also noted that their effectiveness is continually under review. McAnulty expressed concern over the uncertainty created by the lack of commitment to maintaining some form of assistance for first-home buyers, stating that such uncertainty is unwelcome in the sector.

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