A homeowner at the tender age of 20

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 11:03 11/08/2014
Mark Zehnder
DEENA COSTER/ Fairfax NZ
HOMEWARD BOUND: Stratford’s Mark Zehnder moves into his first home this month, thanks to a Housing New Zealand initiative designed to help out first home buyers. 

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At the age of 20, Mark Zehnder never imagined he would be able to call himself a homeowner.

However, in a few weeks' time the Stratford man will be able to do just that when he is given the keys to his new house.

And it's an achievement that has left him grinning from ear to ear.

"I'm 20 and buying a house, I'm pretty rapt."

He said he had always wanted to buy a house, but the amount of money he needed to save up beforehand had been his main stumbling block.

"The deposit's buggered me up before."

He said because of that he was immediately interested when he was told about a first home buyers scheme by his bank manager following a soccer match in Eltham recently.

"And a week later, it was all go," he said.

Zehnder, with assistance from his Kiwisaver funds and some of his own personal savings, was able to purchase his three bedroom home on Stratford's Brecon Rd through the FirstHome initiative run by Housing New Zealand (HNZ).

The programme involves selling off ex-HNZ properties which are no longer required by the agency. For the first three months the houses are offered exclusively to first home buyers who are eligible for the scheme. A FirstHome grant of 10 per cent of the purchase price, up to $20,000, is also available.

In Taranaki, there are currently seven homes in Patea, Stratford and Opunake, ranging in price from $30,000 to $120,000, available. A number of other properties around New Zealand are also for sale.

Zehnder, who is currently flatting in Stratford, said the process was relatively stress-free and his application was approved within hours.

The apprentice electrician said his house was in good condition and was fully insulated. Once he moved in, he intended to build a fence and renovate the bathroom.

"I just can't wait to get in now. I'm counting down the days," he said.

Although he will be taking on the responsibilities all homeowners have, like paying rates, he said owning his own place also meant he could finally get a dog, something he had never been able to do while renting.

And without the HNZ option, he said he might never have had the ability to take his first step onto the property ladder at all.

"I feel like an adult now."

For more information, including how to qualify for the scheme, visit www.hnzc.co.nz or call 0508 935 266.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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