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19 May 2023

From renting to homeowners in two months with the help of First Home Partner.

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Lidan and Lei have just bought their first home, a big achievement for the couple (aged 33 and 34-years) who married in 2015, and made Aotearoa their new home the following year. 

Their new three bedroom, two bathroom home was purchased for $650,000 as a Colab Series home, which is an affordable housing product managed by Kāinga Ora. Built by Complete Residential, the home is part of a new community at Lakeside in Te Kauwhata. Colab Series is specific to Lakeside and is aimed at all owner occupiers, whether first home buyers or not. 

Lidan and Lei chose Lakeside because it delivered what they were looking for – space, a sense of community and a beautiful setting – conveniently located between Lidan’s two workplaces. He works as a quantity surveyor and his week is split between Hamilton and Auckland. The commute to Hamilton takes him 40 minutes and the drive to Auckland takes him just over an hour. Lei is studying for a Diploma in Architectural Design at Unitec in Auckland, and is loving being able to work at home in the peaceful Lakeside neighbourhood. 

“I think it is a great area. The views of the lake and the mountain are especially good. We have good neighbours. It’s quiet and we feel safe here,” says Lidan. They also like the family-oriented, small town vibe of Te Kauwhata (population 1,500). 

“Our home is the right size for us because we are planning to have kids next year. We’ve got land and we’ve got privacy. We are getting a new primary school over the road from our house, so it’s perfect. We also want enough room for our parents to come and visit us from overseas.” 

The road from renting to homeownership was surprisingly swift, says Lidan. “Some mates told us Kāinga Ora was doing a first home scheme. We jumped straight in. It helped that the budget was so limited – we couldn’t afford 90 percent of the houses on the market!” 

They took a brief look at buying elsewhere, but decided they would need the help of the financial products Kāinga Ora provides to get them over the line. Within two months they were applying for the home they now own.

“We did consider buying an existing house but we went for a new build because everything is new and has up-to-date compliance. And if there are any issues, it’s under warranty so you can get it fixed.”

Lidan and Lei were eligible for a First Home Grant to contribute towards their deposit. They also applied and were accepted for First Home Partner, the Kāinga Ora shared home ownership scheme. The couple are the majority owners of their home and Kāinga Ora also owns a share that Lidan and Lei will buy out over time. Applicants for First Home Partner need to be approved for a home loan with a participating bank and be able to contribute at least 5% of the purchase price of the home. The maximum contribution Kāinga Ora will make towards buying the home is 25% or $200,000 – whichever is lower.

“Without help from Kāinga Ora we wouldn’t have made it. The bank would not have lent us that much money. We really appreciate the help,” says Lidan.

Lidan and Lei moved in two weeks before Christmas last year. Lidan says he is especially grateful their renting days are behind them. They worried about rents rising and felt the “limitations” renting imposed quite keenly. For example, they weren’t able to have their parents come and stay for an extended holiday. The plan is to work hard, pay off the mortgage and then “see where we’re at.” He’d like to think that they might be able to buy a second home as an investment one day. 

To others who are yet to start their homeownership journey, Lidan says: “It’s not easy, but it’s achievable with some help from Kāinga Ora. You have to work hard, but it’s worth it. It’s really exciting to move into a home we can call our own.”