Can I withdraw my KiwiSaver funds for a first-home deposit if I want to buy half my partner's house, and it will be my first house, but not his, and he already owns it? Also, is the Government planning to lift the $485,000 maximum limit for a first-home subsidy in Auckland, given the capital value increases?
KiwiSaver can be a key ingredient for those wanting to buy their first home. Any contributions you and your employers have made, plus the investment returns, can be dipped into to help towards a first home purchase.
From the beginning of April you'll also be able to take out any member tax credits you've earned.
The $1000 kick-start will continue to be off-limits for home purchases.
Even though you aren't going down the well-trodden path of trawling through real estate listings followed by endless open homes, it seems the door is still open to buy into your first home.
ASB's head of wealth products, Roger Clayton, explains: "First-home buyer withdrawals are assessed on an individual basis.
"So, if you've been saving with KiwiSaver for at least three years and you intend to live in the house, then you should be able to withdraw some of your KiwiSaver savings to put towards it.
"Note that you'll need to supply your KiwiSaver provider with a copy of the sale and purchase agreement and a letter from your solicitor or conveyancing practitioner.
"It's a good idea to contact your KiwiSaver provider early to find out what documentation they require and how much you are eligible to withdraw.
"It's important to note the withdrawal must be used upon settlement and is not available for any up-front deposit," Clayton says.
So while you've avoided the highs and lows of house hunting you do need to tick off the legal side of the sale and purchase process, involving both your lawyer and KiwiSaver provider.
Because you are living with your partner I asked Chapman Tripp senior associate Emma Dale whether the relationship property rules might disqualify you from buying into your partner's property.
"From my reading of the Property (Relationships) Act, a partner/spouse holds an interest in a property only when there has been a division of relationship property (which usually requires a court order)," says Dale.
"Until a person has 'held' an estate in land, if they meet all of the other criteria, they will qualify as a first-home buyer. Therefore the fact that the house is currently relationship property is not relevant for the purposes of the KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal criteria, but it will be relevant if/when there is a division of relationship property."
There are no limits or caps on the house price for anyone wanting to use KiwiSaver funds for a first home.
House price restrictions come into effect if you want to get a further boost towards your first home using a first-home buyer subsidy from Housing New Zealand. At present the subsidy gives you between $3000 and $5000 extra, depending how long you've been in Kiwisaver, to buy a first home.
You will need to have been making regular contributions at the minimum rate to your KiwiSaver for at least three years and have pulled together a deposit of 10 per cent.
The deposit subsidy is aimed at those on modest incomes looking to buy a first home - $80,000 or less for someone buying a house on their own or $120,000 or less for a couple or several people clubbing together.
The house price caps have a range but at present you can spend up to $485,000 in Auckland or, at the lower end of the scale, up to $300,000 in more affordable parts of New Zealand.
These price caps are set to be tweaked in April to reflect rising house prices, increasing by between $25,000 and $100,000 depending on where in New Zealand you live.
In Auckland that will bump up the maximum house price to purchase a home using help from the deposit subsidy, set to get a name change to the HomeStart grant, to $550,000.
The changes are accompanied by a doubling of the deposit subsidy available to people planning to buy a newly built first home.
Housing New Zealand - www.hnzc.co.nz - are the point of contact for all queries about the deposit subsidy and can assess whether you are eligible for this bonus payment on top of any KiwiSaver savings withdrawal you make through your provider.
Disclaimer: Information provided is stated accurately to the best of the respondent's knowledge at the time of publication. It is general in nature and should not be construed, or relied on, as a recommendation to invest in a particular financial product or class of financial product. Readers should seek independent financial advice specific to their situation before making an investment decision.
To have your KiwiSaver questions answered by the NZ Herald's panel of industry players email Helen Twose, email@example.com. Sorry, but Helen cannot answer all questions, correspond directly with readers, or give financial advice.