Industry keen for Welcome Home Loan changes

Advisers and lenders believe the government should make it easier for customers to access the Welcome Home Loan and First Home Grant. 

Mark McLean

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has hinted she may change eligibility criteria for the First Home Loan and First Home Grant, as house price caps continue to exclude most properties in major centres.

People using the schemes can only buy a house worth up to $650,000 in Auckland, despite the median house price recently topping $1 million. 

In Wellington, the scheme can only be used for homes worth up to $550,000. 

As house prices continue to soar amid low interest rates, more homes are being excluded from the schemes. PM Ardern said this week: "Those are a good place for us to look at and say, 'Are there ways that we can enable more first-home buyers to use those products?'"

Lenders and advisers hope changes will be made soon to allow first home buyers to access the 95% LVR First Home Loan, and First Home Grant of up to $10,000. 

Mark McLean at SBS Bank told TMM Online that changes were overdue. He said the bank had recently presented evidence to Kāinga Ora about eligibility restrictions. 

"The price caps are out of sync," McLean said. "There are only certain regions where you can get support. The market has moved even more in the past few months so we hope they will change the caps."

David Windler of The Mortgage Supply Company hopes the changes will be made. 

"Prices have increased to the point where the schemes are largely irrelevant now," he said. "For a first home buyer in Auckland, $600,000 doesn't get you much realistically."

"It's long overdue," Windler added. "When we look at it, either income is too high or the property value is too high for people to use it." 

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