Sales of former Housing New Zealand houses to first home buyers are transforming streets in parts of Whanganui and making people very happy, Property Brokers Whanganui branch manager Philip Kubiak says.
"We have got some very happy and proud people that never believed they would own their own home. When they get the keys they sometimes burst into tears and hug you," he said.
One of those happy first home buyers is Angelina Easton. She and her husband Keegan bought their house under the FirstHome Ownership Scheme in January 2015.
Both had finished university and got married and had little cash. The grant that came with the scheme helped, and it helped that their house was cheap. It's one of seven Housing New Zealand (HNZ) homes sold in their street.
There was no way they would have been able to afford a house without the scheme. With it they have been able to have a baby, Tobiah, and start a vegetable garden.
"With this house and the mortgage and rates and insurance it's roughly the cost of renting. It's awesome," Mrs Easton said.
Lots of HNZ houses have sold in Armstrong Pl as well. Sarah Bolland and her partner bought one, and she said the sales are changing the neighbourhood.
"Everybody is looking after their property. The (neighbours) see progress on these places and they've put a new fence up and stuff like that.
"It's not really a very rough area any more. We have the cops around every so often and more dogs roaming, but the more you bitch about it the less it happens."
Whanganui's Property Brokers branch has been handling sales in the FirstHome Ownership Scheme since 2014, with estate agent Ritesh Verma co-ordinating.
The branch has sold 102 Housing New Zealand (HNZ) houses since April 2014, 98 of them to FirstHome buyers and four to other people.
There are none listed for sale at present, though HNZ area manager Keith Hilson has said 21 of the current 34 vacant HNZ properties in the district will be sold.
The houses that have been sold are mainly in Castlecliff, Gonville, Aramoho and Whanganui East. The estate agents get a list of them from HNZ, and market and sell them.
Each has a valuation from QV and that is the price, with no negotiation. It's a market value, Mr Kubiak said.
So far all have sold for between $50,000 and $90,000, with most between $60,000 and $75,000. Most have two or three bedrooms.
FirstHome buyers can get a grant of 10 per cent of the property's value, up to the level of $20,000.
The houses are only available to FirstHome buyers for the first six months. After that HNZ can review them, and may make them available to other people.
The FirstHome buyers are all kinds of people, of all ages and from all walks of life, Mr Kubiak said.
People have to meet criteria to be FirstHome buyers. They have to be over 18, either New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and have to live in the houses for at least three years.
There are also financial criteria, such as how much they have earned in the last 12 months, the worth of their assets and whether they can get a mortgage.
Having new homeowners was good for the district, Mr Kubiak said.
"All of those people have to pay rates to the city as home owners, and when they start doing them up they're spending money in town."