Buying guide

How does Kiwisaver first home withdrawal work?

There are a few things you need to know if you want to withdraw your Kiwisaver to buy a home

Last updated: 27 May 2024

Things are hard for first home buyers in Aotearoa, but there are ways to make it easier. If you’ve been regularly contributing to Kiwisaver for at least three years (and meet other eligibility criteria) you may be able to withdraw some of your balance to go towards your first home. 

To get you started, we’ve put together everything you need to know about Kiwisaver first home withdrawals.

Kiwisaver first home withdrawal rules for eligibility

You’ll need to tick a few boxes to be eligible to use your Kiwisaver to buy your first home:

  • You are buying a home or piece of land in New Zealand. 

  • This is your first time buying a home or piece of land;

  • Or, if you have bought a home or piece of land before, you must no longer own the property and are in a similar financial position to first home buyers. If you have bought property before you’ll need to fill out this form via Kāinga Ora to find out if you’re still eligible.

  • You have never withdrawn funds from Kiwisaver to buy property. 

  • You plan to live in the home you buy or build for at least six months. 

  • Have your Kiwisaver account with a provider that allows fund withdrawals.

If you meet all of the above criteria then you can withdraw the entire contents of your Kiwisaver except for the $1,000 government payment, any Australian superannuation that you’ve transferred and any government contributions received during any period you didn’t have permanent residence in NZ. 

The process: Using Kiwisaver for your first home

Applying for pre-approval or confirming the amount you can withdraw

Kiwisaver withdrawals for first home buyers are processed by your Kiwisaver provider, not Kāinga Ora or your lender. So, to apply you’ll need to either contact your Kiwisaver provider directly, or find a page on their website relating to Kiwisaver for first home buyers. 

Once you’ve found the page there’ll generally be an option to:

  • Request an estimate of the amount you can withdraw; OR,

  • Request pre-approval to withdraw.

  • Contact your provider with questions. 

Even if you’re months away from buying your home, it’s a good idea to request an estimate of the amount you can withdraw or request pre-approval. Your bank may also need this to provide home loan pre-approval. To get started, you’ll simply need to fill out a short form and provide details such as a customer number and IRD number (or contact your provider directly if they don’t provide a form). Once you’re done, you’ll get an indication of the amount you’ll be able to withdraw so that there’s no nasty surprises down the road. 

To apply for a Kiwisaver withdrawal contact your fund provider.

Applying to for Kiwisaver withdrawal: First home buyers

Generally, you can apply to withdraw your Kiwisaver if you have a conditional sale and purchase agreement signed and ready to go (or, in other words, when you’ve had an offer on a house accepted). To apply, you’ll need to either contact your Kiwisaver provider or fill out the ‘apply to withdraw’ form on their website. 

Documents and information you’ll need to apply:

  • Valid photo identification (passport or national ID card). 

  • Accepted proof of address.

  • A signed sale and purchase agreement that lists you as the purchaser. 

  • A completed first home withdrawal form. The signing of this may need to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or a lawyer who is authorised to take statutory declarations.

  • A letter of undertaking from your solicitor.

  • A bank deposit slip for your solicitor’s trust account. 

  • If you’ve previously owned a home you'll need to supply an eligibility confirmation letter from Kāinga Ora.

Once you’ve made your application it’s a good idea to give your Kiwisaver provider a call to make sure they’ve received it. Once they have processing times will vary - but most providers will process an application in under 10 working days (or 15 working days if you’ve lived overseas while you were a member of Kiwisaver). 

Stuff you need to know when using Kiwisaver for your first home

You can put your first home Kiwisaver withdrawal towards your purchase deposit

If you plan to do this, you’ll need to make sure you have the Kiwisaver money ready to go before the property goes unconditional and you’re required to pay the purchase deposit. That means you’ll usually need to make the property purchase conditional on Kiwisaver first home withdrawal approval - with a conditional period that’s longer than your provider’s promised turnaround. A longer conditional period is better because there’s always a chance your provider will take longer. Talk to your solicitor to arrange the details. 

It’s important to ensure your Kiwisaver funds are ready in time

If your Kiwisaver funds aren’t ready on the day the sale and purchase agreement goes unconditional, you won’t be able to use them for your purchase deposit. And, if you’re planning to use those funds to go towards the purchase price you won’t be able to use them at all if you haven’t received them before settlement date. They will be locked away until you retire. 

If this happens, your only option is to either: 

  • Find a way to cover the shortfall in price to complete settlement. 

  • Negotiate a delayed settlement and pay penalty interest.

  • Pull out of the house purchase and pay the vendor penalties. 

That’s why it’s so important to leave as much time as possible between when you apply for the funds and when you need them (unconditional or settlement date). Talk to your solicitor and your provider to make sure your timing will work out. 

You’ll need to intend live in the home for at least six months

To withdraw your Kiwisaver to buy a first home you’re required to intend to live in the home for a minimum of six months. Generally, you can’t rent the entire property out during this period unless your circumstances change, but it’s fine to rent out rooms in the home as long as you live there. 

Withdrawing from your Kiwisaver can be a great way to secure your first home.

Be smart with your Kiwisaver before purchasing a home

If you know that you’re going to purchase a home in the near future it’s a great idea to take a close look at your contributions and the fund you’re in. Get help from a registered financial advisor if you’re not sure what’s right for you. Some of the things you could consider include:

  • Increasing your voluntary contributions or the percentage of your salary you pay into Kiwisaver to pump up your balance. 

  • Shifting your Kiwisaver balance into a conservative or defensive fund if you plan on purchasing a home in the next few years. If you’re purchasing in five-plus years it may be worth looking at riskier funds such as growth. 

  • Contributing at least $1,042.86 of your own money towards your kiwisaver each financial year to receive the government contribution of $521.43. 

  • Making sure you’re contributing as much as you can afford, regularly over time. 

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is general in nature. While facts have been checked, the article does not constitute a financial advice service. The article is only intended to provide general information about Kiwisaver in New Zealand. Nothing in this article constitutes a recommendation that any type of loan is suitable for any specific person. We cannot assess anything about your personal circumstances, your finances, or your goals and objectives, all of which are unique to you. Before making decisions about Kiwisaver, we highly recommend you seek professional advice.


Ben Tutty
Ben Tutty

Ben Tutty is a regular contributor for Trade Me and he's also contributed to Stuff and the Informed Investor. He's got 10+ years experience as both a journalist and website copywriter, specialising in real estate, finance and tourism. Ben lives in Wānaka with his partner and his best mate (Finnegan the whippet).