Government announces second funding round for progressive home ownership, next phase of scheme revealed

The Government's $400 million progressive home ownership scheme launched in July last year has housed 53 families so far in newly built homes, up from just 12 families in February.

The Government launched the progressive homeownership scheme under the umbrella of KiwiBuild, Labour's once flagship housing policy that went through several changes, after it failed to deliver on its targets.

Progressive home ownership enables a family to partner with a charitable provider, such as the Housing Foundation, to help them become homeowners by sharing the financial burden. 

Types of progressive home ownership deals were already available in New Zealand, and those available to access the Government's fund have been shared ownership, rent-to-buy, and leasehold.

Habitat for Humanity - which has operated progressive homeownership for more than 25 years using rent to buy - along with Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, will build 50 more homes for the Government's scheme after the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development approved their loans.

A second round of funding has been confirmed, which is expected to help between 1500 and 4000 individuals and whānau buy their own homes. Its priority is to support households unable to otherwise buy, as well as Māori and Pacific people, and families with children. 

Housing Minister Megan Woods on Tuesday also announced the next phase of the scheme, which is described as "a lighter touch" in terms of financial assistance. 

Kāinga Ora, the Government's housing and urban development delivery arm, has launched a new shared-ownership product, First Home Partner, through which it will take an equity share in a property to assist first-home buyers who can service a mortgage but need help raising their deposit.

"This phase of the scheme lends directly to households who don't require the kind of intensive support to manage their finances," Woods said. 

Kāinga Ora will take an ownership share of the home that is fee-free for the first 15 years and will support the new household to purchase the share back over time as they become full homeowners. 

Applicants will need to have a minimum 5 per cent deposit, and the maximum contribution Kāinga Ora will make to the home purchase is 25 percent of the purchase price or $200,000 - whichever is lower. 

The Government announced last week that new-build properties and purpose-built rentals will get a two-decade exemption in a tax change meant to deter property investment, in a bid to boost short supply of houses.

Removing tax deductions on interest costs for rental properties was included in a raft of changes announced by the Government in March to try and bring down property prices, because property investors made up the biggest share of buyers in the housing market.

To further reduce the incentive to invest in property, the Government also increased the bright-line test - income tax paid on any gains from residential property - from five years to 10 years. 

Real Estate Institute data from August showed residential property across the country increased by 25.5 percent in the space of a year, from $677,400 in August 2020 to a record $850,000 in August 2021. 

CoreLogic's recent Housing Affordability Report showed affordability was "as bad as it's ever been" with the average property value across New Zealand 7.9 times the average annual household income, a record high in its 18-year history.

There is hope on the horizon. Estimates from Stats NZ last month showed the number of new homes consented in the year ended June was at a record high of 46,453 - an increase of 24 percent increase on 2020.