KiwiSaver is a retirement savings scheme into which workers can invest part of their income. The government and employers also make contributions towards KiwiSaver. While the main purpose of KiwiSaver is for retirement savings, the KiwiSaver Act 2006 does permit early withdrawal for specific purposes. One of these is to assist first (and in some cases, second) home buyers.
KiwiSaver funds are now available before the Purchase Agreement has become unconditional. This allows members to access their Kiwisaver Fund for the initial deposit on a purchase.
Accessing Your Savings Early
To be entitled to withdraw your KiwiSaver funds you must:
- be over 18 years of age;
- have made the minimum contribution to the fund for at least three years;
- intend to use the property as your primary place of residence for at least 6 months; and
- not have owned an interest in any estate in land before (except where certain criteria apply).
As part of the application process, you will need to complete an application form, which can be obtained from your provider. Part of the application needs to be completed by a lawyer. Documentary evidence in relation to your identity and proof address needs to be included with the application.
KiwiSaver Home-Start Grant
If you meet the KiwiSaver withdrawal eligibility criteria, you may also be eligible for a Home-Start Grant. Depending on the length of your contribution history, the grant could be worth up to $5,000 (based on $1,000 for each year of membership – with a minimum of three and a maximum of five years) for an existing home. For a new build, or an off-the-plan purchase, the grant could be worth up to $10,000 (based on $2,000 for each year of contribution). There are limits on the value of the house you can buy. These limits vary depending on location.
Before the funds can be accessed your lawyer will need to complete some further forms (not including the original application form).
Beware - strict processes apply!
If you wish to access your KiwiSaver funds and obtain a Home-Start Grant to assist in the purchase of a property then you need to get organised as early as possible because the application process can be stressful and time-consuming. If at all possible, you should contact your KiwiSaver provider to request consideration as to your eligibility and request an estimate of KiwiSaver funds available, before you start looking for a house.
There are strict deadlines and timeframes that apply to these schemes, so you should get your lawyer to review any Purchase Agreement before signing. He or she should ensure that there is sufficient time for you to complete your applications and access the funds prior to settlement. If purchasers do not follow the strict process, they may run into difficulty in accessing their funds when required. Funds cannot be accessed after settlement has occurred
Being well organised in these matters will remove much of the stress associated with your first home purchase, so make sure you are organised as early as possible. If you require any information or assistance in applying for the KiwiSaver Withdrawal or your Kick-Start Grant do not hesitate to contact one of the team at Fitzherbert Rowe. We will be happy to assist you through the process.