A journey to home ownership
These days, first home buyers are faced with saving for larger deposits, tighter lending rules and higher mortgage rates, making the journey to home ownership seem harder than ever.
Despite the affordability pressures, this group of buyers in NZ have maintained their strong market share, reaching a record high of 25% over the first half of 2023, according to latest statistics.
We speak to one couple who managed to turn their dreams of home ownership into reality.
A new priority
Taupo’s Sarah and Brad Davidson are ecstatic to have finally bought a home, and the feelings of security, stability and excitement that come with it. The couple, both in their 30s, started their journey to home ownership two years ago when the owners of their rental told them they were putting the house on the market. While they had been considering buying a home, losing their rental was the trigger for the couple to make it a top priority. “It was something we thought of doing but it was just never a priority for us. It is difficult and it is expensive, but we also had other priorities, like travel,” says Brad.
Ups and downs
The couple were ready to take the plunge but it wasn’t the right time financially. As they had both recently started jobs that were largely commission-based – Sarah in real estate and Brad as a car salesman – the bank wouldn’t approve a loan until they had built up a history of earnings.
A year later, they found themselves in the same position, when their second rental home went on the market. “Two houses sold from under us – we just didn’t want to be in that situation again. It really prompted us to put things into action,” says Sarah. Now with a history of earnings, the couple were finally approved for a mortgage.
The couple set themselves a budget of $600k, hoping to find a house with three bedrooms and a garden in central Taupo. They viewed five properties and it was the last one – a 1960s renovated cottage – that stole their hearts from the start, says Sarah. The 98 sqm home boasts four bedrooms, and a generous garden with established fruit trees. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”
The right price
The property was listed with a fixed price of $649k and as there were several interested parties, it was a multi-offer situation. However, on the morning the offers were going to be presented, both other parties pulled out. Ten minutes later, the Davidson’s offer of $630k had been accepted.
The couple were able to use their Kiwisaver earnings of just over $100k for the deposit. However, because their combined annual income sits above the $150k threshold, they were disappointed to learn they weren’t eligible for the First Home Grant.
An incredible feeling
Securing their own home means an end to renting, to having their home sold out from under them, and it’s a new start, say the couple. “Our weekends now are spent dreaming and scheming of what we can do and how we can make it our own. We’re just excited. This is really going to be a forever home for us,” says Sarah.
Advice to others
The Davidsons advise other first home buyers to have a budget – but leave room for flexibility. “For just a few thousand extra, when we expanded our search just beyond that $600k it opened up so many more properties,” says Brad. It was a small difference in mortgage reayments and well worth it to get the property they really wanted , he says. Having a great team around you, including a mortgage broker and lawyer, can also make a huge difference to the buying experience, say the couple.