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15 Nov 2022

Homeownership products help family get into their first home

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For Karen and Roy Cardenas 2023 will be a milestone year – the one in which they and their three children move into their first home. The couple have bought at Lakeside, Te Kauwhata, an hour’s drive from the Auckland CBD. 

Lakeside is a 1,650-home neighbourhood on the banks of Lake Waikare. It is being developed by Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities in partnership with Winton. Twenty percent of the homes at Lakeside are sold at more affordable prices to eligible buyers, and it is one of these ‘Colab Series’ homes the Cardenases have bought – a three-bedroom home by Booming Builders. The maximum price for Colab Series homes is $650,000 and you don’t have to be a first home buyer to own one of these homes. 

Karen says when Roy first introduced the idea of buying at Lakeside she was against it.  “I said to my husband it was too far away and the kids are settled in Auckland and have made friends here.” Roy convinced her to come for a drive and check it out. “We went there and I fell in love.” 

The family moved to New Zealand from the Philippines seven years ago. “It takes me back to our childhood. Me and my husband were brought up in a province in our home country. Lakeside is also a quiet community – peaceful, relaxed. You’re near nature.” 

What sealed the deal for Karen was her 17 year-old daughter’s willingness to commute to Auckland for her final year of school in order to be able to live at Lakeside. 

However, falling in love with Lakeside was not quite enough to get the family over the line. Their bank required a 20 percent deposit and they had 15 percent. This was made up of their savings, withdrawals from their KiwiSaver funds and a Kāinga Ora First Home Grant of $20,000. (Karen and Roy were eligible for the maximum grant of $10,000 each). They moved to a different bank and tried again but their new bank also required a 20 percent deposit in this case. They were about to give up when Karen had a good idea.

“It clicked for me that Kāinga Ora offers First Home Partner. We applied for it and we actually got it!” 

First Home Partner is a shared ownership scheme. In Karen and Roy’s case, Kāinga Ora is contributing around $40,000 equity into the house purchase, allowing them to get to the deposit figure the bank required in order to approve their home loan.  

The other big enabler for the couple has been their flexible employers. Settlement is expected late February 2023. Once the family have moved in, Roy will commute to his job as a paint protection film installer, with a new start time of 7am and finish time of 3pm to make for an easier trip. Karen’s company, where she works in Accounts Payable, has also been very supportive. She will be able to work from home five days a week once they move into their new home. The two younger children, aged five and 10-years, will attend Te Kauwhata Primary School. 

Karen says she still can’t believe they’ve managed to secure a home. “I’d like to say to everyone else like us, just don’t give up. If you feel like there’s no way, keep on searching online and visiting the Kāinga Ora website to find out what you’re eligible for. When we found out about the products it was like all these barricades were removed.” 

Karen and Roy’s new place has a serene view of Lake Waikare and a reserve in front. “We were offered another location with a bigger section and two bathrooms but we chose this one because of the view.” The home is also adjacent to a walking and cycling path that forms part of a network of trails through Lakeside’s 75 hectares of dedicated reserve and wetlands.

The Cardenases home was built by Booming Builders, a Hamilton based building company which has built over 100 homes in the Waikato region since 2017. Karen says the fact the home is brand new is also a huge bonus. “We don’t have any repairs for quite a while so we'll be able to save our money.” 

The family are looking forward to joining the Te Kauwhata community. “People are very welcoming and warm – even if they see new faces, they are so approachable. I feel we’ve made a very good decision to purchase a house in Lakeside. It’s a good decision for our kids, for our mental health and for our emotional wellbeing.”