Sneaky strategies for first home buyers.
So you have a regular income. You rent a place for $450 per week, and you’re pretty sure a mortgage on a similar dwelling would be around $550. With a few tweaks to your budget you know you could make the payments. There’s just one thing standing in between you and your dream of owning a home - the deposit.
There’s been a lot of depressing media coverage over the last, oh, five years, about how hard it is for people to buy houses these days. So you probably feel locked out of the market. Defeated before you’ve even started. But I think you can buy a house! You just need to be sneaky, tenacious and determined.
Before I get started, I’m assuming you’re a normal person with normal expectations. If you’re looking for a house in the 400 - 500 price range, you’re not hoping to find a renovated four bedroom villa with a separate self-contained studio in Grey Lynn (dammit!). You know that you could expect something along the lines of:
I’m also assuming that you are in an ok financial situation. Student loans notwithstanding, you don’t have any crazy credit card debt, personal loans, car loans or higher purchase payments. (If you do have any of these things, pay them off before you get started. See the awesome Mr Money Mustache blog for tips.)
So you’ve got your financial priorities straight, you’re happy to start out small or in a location that isn’t at the top of your list - but how are you supposed to save a deposit? Your rent eats most of your income and Auckland is so expensive these days!
If you know you could meet the mortgage repayments, you’re actually in a pretty good situation. You’re a sure bet for a bank - and they’d be crazy not to want your ongoing payments over the next two to three decades. You’re good business!
So now that I’ve boosted your confidence, here’s how to get your deposit:
So what if you’ve withdrawn your Kiwisaver, you’ve negotiated your bank down to a 10 per cent deposit, you’ve saved 5K and you’re comfortable taking out a small additional loan - but you still can’t afford a deposit on a place in Auckland?
This is when you have to be sneaky, tenacious, determined - and play the long game.
This is when you drive to Hamilton and buy yourself a tidy, low-maintenance rental property. Something that won’t need much work - perhaps a small unit. Now you put some good tenants in it, sit back and wait. And wait. In a couple of years the combination of your mortgage payments and rising house prices will mean you have some equity in your property - and you can use that equity to buy your own place in Auckland.
So put your fingers in your ears and block out the media noise. You’re sneaky, tenacious and determined, remember? You deserve to have your own house in the city you live in. And you can make it happen.
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The advice provided in this article is general advice only, and is provided by someone who has absolutely no financial qualifications. Always consult a reputable independent financial adviser before making important financial decisions.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.