Rachel and Kowhai Hemara of Whangarei were bitterly disappointed when they were turned down for a modest home loan recently.
"We thought we were a good prospect ... we were left wondering, what on earth do you have to do?" Rachel says.
The couple saw this as a sensible way to use their resources, work to the future and actually spend less. Three loan institutions turned them down and they know full well how hard it is to get their first home.
Together for over 21 years, they have never owned their own home. Both are in work and they have never reneged on the $300 weekly rent on their Tikipunga home in the seven years they have been there.
The couple had wanted to borrow $169,000 for a small fully-renovated house. This would have meant weekly repayments of $230 - $70 less than they are paying in rent.
The Hemaras have long since paid off their family vehicle, a Holden Rodeo that Kowhai uses for his lawnmower business, and their small boat. Diving and fishing are their hobby, says Rachel, and also provide important, additional food for the family.
Rachel is in her second year studying at NorthTec for a degree in social work in her spare time. She previously held a well-paid sales position for six years. She resigned to take up a similar job, also with a company car, which gave her the flexibility to attend block study courses three days a month. This job ended after 14 months when the company restructured.
Her new job, which she has held for the past month, is in merchandising. She had to supply her own car, and took out a $16,000 loan to buy a second-hand vehicle, bringing their debt to around $22,000. This is less than the value of their assets, which are valued at $25,100.
They have three children, aged 20, 15 and two, but only the two younger children are dependent on them.
Rachel believes one of the reasons the banks turned them down was that neither she nor her husband have been in their jobs more than a year.
"But surely our financial history and commitment to working makes up for that? Buying would have improved our financial situation by lowering outgoings on accommodation and given us our own home for the first time in our lives. I just don't get it," says Rachel.
Real estate consultant Lloyd Kirkham of First National Whangarei, who found them the house, is "gutted" the couple have been unable to get a loan.
"It's not about the commission, it's about finding a solution that moves a family forward," he said.