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That first rung on the housing ladder can feel far out of reach at first, but KiwiSaver can bring it that much closer as you save and invest for a home of your own.

Although KiwiSaver was made for long-term investing for retirement, it can also be used for a first home. After all, owning your home sets you up for wellbeing in retirement as well.

It helps to know how using KiwiSaver for a first home works and the timings involved, so that everything can run smoothly for you – from saving up to settlement.

Using KiwiSaver for your first home

Typically you’ll need 20% of the house price for your first-home deposit – which is a big ask – but happily you can use your KiwiSaver money for all or part of it if you’re eligible. And you can get help from a government grant as well, right up to $20,000 for a couple building a new home.

If you are purchasing with your partner or friends, each of you can withdraw from your KiwiSaver. You’ll have different balances, so you can withdraw as much or as little as you need.

You apply for a KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal directly with your KiwiSaver provider.

In this guide

See how KiwiSaver can be used for your first home

Got just a few minutes? Watch the video to learn what you need to know about using KiwiSaver for your first home.

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KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal, First Home Loan Scheme

After you’ve been contributing to KiwiSaver for three years, you will typically be able to withdraw almost all the money in your account to help buy a first home (except for $1000). This is called a KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal, and you apply directly with your KiwiSaver provider.

Even with just a 5% deposit, you also may be able to borrow enough to buy a first home under the government’s First Home Loan Scheme.

Find out more about First Home Loans and the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal on the Kāinga Ora website.

Eligibility rules for using KiwiSaver for your first home

If you’re eligible, you can withdraw all your KiwiSaver money (including the government contribution), except $1000. To be eligible you must: 

KiwiSaver contribution requirements

If you’re eligible to use KiwiSaver for your first home, you simply apply directly to your KiwiSaver provider.

If you are a previous home owner looking for a second chance, you’ll need to be in the same financial position as a first-home buyer (so you no longer own your previous home). Kāinga Ora will need to decide first whether you qualify and will send a letter to your KiwiSaver provider to confirm this.

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Check your eligibility early on

Find out if you’re eligible for a KiwiSaver withdrawal early in your process, so you can plan ahead.

The KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal application process

Contact your KiwiSaver provider to start the withdrawal process.

Typically your KiwiSaver provider will need 10 working days to process your first-home withdrawal, but sometimes there can be delays.

If you don’t have your KiwiSaver money before settlement, you won’t be able to use it. Allow enough time before your settlement date to avoid stress.

Put together your supporting documents.

You’ll need:

  • Certified ID and proof of address
  • A bank deposit slip for your solicitor’s trust account
  • A copy of the sale and purchase agreement for the property you’re buying
  • Either:
    • A letter of undertaking – conditional agreement, to be completed by your solicitor if you’re using your KiwiSaver savings as a deposit, or
    • A letter of undertaking – unconditional agreement, to be completed by your solicitor if you’re using your KiwiSaver savings to pay part of the purchase price at settlement
Submit your application to your KiwiSaver provider.

The form will include a statutory declaration, which will need to be witnessed by a lawyer or justice of the peace, for example. Send in your documents with your application.

It will help to call or email your provider to make sure they received it. They should start to process it within 3 business days.

Receive your KiwiSaver money in your solicitor’s account.

On your settlement date, your lawyer will pass your money on to the seller’s lawyer, and you’ll receive the deeds to ownership and the keys to the property, which is now yours.

For more on the property-buying process in general, see

How to maximise your KiwiSaver to build up your deposit

The more you can contribute to KiwiSaver, the larger your first home deposit and the less costly your mortgage will be. This is where you want to go hard with your saving!

Check that the type of fund you’re in is aligned to your goal of buying your first home. Our KiwiSaver fund finder can help you find the type of fund that matches your timeframe for saving, then you can browse funds of that type to compare.

The moment that you decide you are going to withdraw from your KiwiSaver for a first home, you’ll want to change to a defensive fund with no ups and downs. That way you won’t experience unexpected market drops, and your money will be there when you need it. Here’s where to browse defensive KiwiSaver funds on Smart Investor.

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How much will you have for your first home?

Use our KiwiSaver calculator to get an estimate of how much you could have for your first home.

That way you can make an informed decision about when to withdraw.

Try the calculator

KiwiSaver first-home buying FAQs 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Let’s work backwards from your goals: how much would you like to have for your first home or retirement, and how soon? Those questions can drive your choices. Take a moment to put your information into our KiwiSaver calculator to get an idea if you’re on track to achieve those goals. Underwhelmed a bit? Try adjusting your contribution rate to see how much difference it makes. Finding a contribution rate that gets you to your goals and works with your budget is the key. Here’s our KiwiSaver calculator. 

If you’re an employee, you simply let your payroll or HR person know and fill out a form. You can also change your contribution rates through Inland Revenue. There are preset levels to choose from: 3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10% – but you can also put in any amount you like at any time by getting in touch with your provider. How much of a difference could this make? Here’s our KiwiSaver calculator to have a look. 

No. When you take out your KiwiSaver money, either for a first home, financial hardship or to use to live on in retirement, that money is tax-free. Your KiwiSaver contributions are made after your income has been taxed, and the gains from your investments that you own in KiwiSaver are taxed as well. But when you withdraw for a first home or retirement at age 65, there is no tax to pay. It’s 100% your money to use. To withdraw your KiwiSaver money, contact your provider directly. 

Defensive KiwiSaver funds mostly hold cash and bonds, and out of all the five types of KiwiSaver funds, they protect you most from risk.

You won’t get the potential growth that you would in other types, but if you’re going to use your KiwiSaver money soon, especially within the next 1 to 3 years, they can be helpful. Here are all the defensive funds in KiwiSaver. 

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