From 1 April the KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant becomes available and regional house-price caps for the HomeStart and Welcome Home Loan scheme increase.

The HomeStart Grant will replace the existing KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy and, for those buying a newly built home, double the amount KiwiSaver members can receive. The grant is available to KiwiSaver members who’ve been contributing regularly for at least three years.

Those eligible for a grant can get $1000 for each year they’ve contributed to the scheme, up to a maximum of five years. If they’re buying a newly built home that amount will double. So an eligible couple could qualify for a $20,000 grant.

From 1 April regional house-price caps will also increase for both the KiwiSaver HomeStart and Welcome Home Loan schemes.

The cap in Auckland will now be $550,000. The cap for Western Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Hamilton, Kapiti Coast, Porirua, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Wellington, Tasman, Nelson, Waimakariri, Christchurch, Selwyn and Queenstown will be $450,000. All other areas will have a cap of $350,000.

HomeStart and Welcome Home Loan will continue to be managed by Housing New Zealand.

The government has also proposed rule changes to the Kiwisaver Act to allow people wanting to use their Kiwisaver funds for a first home deposit to withdraw their member tax credits in addition to their savings. Legislation to amend the Act is currently before parliament.