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Everything you need to know about using your KiwiSaver savings to buy your first home.

A lot of would-be first-home buyers are sitting on quite healthy KiwiSaver balances which could provide just the boost you need to get over the line and into your first home. Yet not everyone is aware of how the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal process works.


Here's what you need to know for a first home KiwiSaver withdrawal:

What are the general requirements for a KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal?

Access to your KiwiSaver savings has been designed to be first-home-buyer-friendly, and so the requirements aren’t tricky:

  • You just must have had a KiwiSaver account for at least three years,
  • You need to intend to live in the home you purchase or are planning to build, and
  • You have to be a first-time buyer – although there are some exceptions made for ‘second chance’ applicants who haven’t already used their KiwiSaver savings for a property (see details here).

If you meet the qualifying criteria, you can draw on all your contributions, your employer’s contributions, and the Government’s contributions, apart from the last $1000, which must stay invested in your KiwiSaver account.

Note: If you have transferred your Australian Super Funds into your KiwiSaver account, these must also remain in your KiwiSaver account until you are 60 and meet the Australian Super retirement criteria.

What should you do while you look for your first home?

A good time to be a conservative KiwiSaver investor.

The first thing you should do is check your KiwiSaver account settings.

TIP iconIf you’re in a growth fund, consider moving into a conservative fund to mitigate any market volatility between now and when you need to make your home withdrawal.

It pays to be a little careful, and as a general rule of thumb consider moving to a conservative fund if you plan to buy a house within three years. You can change back to a growth fund when you have the house keys in your hand. When in doubt, reach out to your KiwiSaver adviser who will be able to answer those questions.

Consider maximising your KiwiSaver contributions.

Think about increasing your KiwiSaver contributions between now and when you plan to withdraw the funds to buy your first home. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sense. Even raising your contributions by 1% could get you closer to reaching your deposit goal. Between now and settlement day, your savings are most likely going to perform better in KiwiSaver – even in a conservative fund – than they would on the interest in a basic bank deposit account.

To increase your contributions, ask your employer for a KS2 form, and select the percentage of your salary you want paid into your KiwiSaver account. You can also make additional voluntary payments into your account as and when you want to. Learn more about this here.

Don’t forget the First Home Grant!

A KiwiSaver First Home Grant is available to eligible buyers for their first home, and also to approved ‘second chance’ applicants. Existing home purchases can get a grant of up to $5000, rising to a maximum of $10,000 for new-builds. Check the eligibility criteria (see First Home Grant).

Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities administers the First Home Grant, and there is a cap on the house value which varies depending on what area you’re looking to buy. You will find all the qualifying info here.

Time to buy? Plan your KiwiSaver withdrawal.

Again, withdrawal is a pretty straightforward process but does require a bit of paperwork and input from your lawyer and must be submitted 10 days before you need the funds (either for your deposit or settlement). Note that if you’re buying at an auction, you can only use your KiwiSaver savings as part of your settlement (rather than your deposit), given that a typical auction timeline doesn’t allow for the 10-day processing window required to withdraw your KiwiSaver funds.

See details on the paperwork required here.

So, you’ve got the keys to your first home! But what happens to your KiwiSaver account now?

TIP iconOnce you’re settled into your home, consider switching your KiwiSaver account settings to growth, so you can reap the long-term benefits of regular savings for the next time you’ll be able to access your KiwiSaver funds – the day you turn 65.

Don’t underestimate the value of advice!

If you’re saving for your first home, it is a good idea to talk to a KiwiSaver adviser now to make sure you’re making the most of your KiwiSaver account. 

To connect with an expert KiwiSaver adviser to discuss your KiwiSaver, complete the form below:

DISCLAIMER: No part of this article is intended as financial advice; it is intended as general information.  The views and opinions expressed in any content, products, or services mentioned do not necessarily imply endorsement. We do not endorse, warrant, or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of any third-party materials, products, or services referenced. Any reliance on such information is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any consequences resulting from user decisions to use or engage with any products, services or companies referred to, or mentioned on our website or in any other forms of communication.

Talk to a KiwiSaver adviser by submitting the form below for advice on ensuring your KiwiSaver is optimised for your First Home deposit.

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