First home for Auckland couple who refused to be defeated
Young parents Renee Van Veen, 27, and Kurt Jameson, 29, know all about the trials involved in getting onto the property ladder in Auckland.
The couple recently signed a contract for their first home – a $785,000 three-bedroom home on a crosslease section in Unsworth Heights – and will be moving in next week.
But it hasn't been plain sailing. In fact they describe the process of getting into the Auckland market as a "nightmare".
The pair returned from two-and-a-half years in the UK in February last year and have been looking for a home ever since, with a slow-down around the middle of the year when baby Paige was born.
Van Veen says October and November were especially difficult times. "Everyone seemed to be fighting for the same houses," she says.
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"We tried to avoid auctions as the process was too expensive and you were never guaranteed to get the property. We tried to buy through negotiation, but were often turned down or beaten to it.
"This is the third house where we had an offer accepted. The first one signed was a backup offer that didn't work out, and we pulled out of the second agreement ourselves. This sale took two months of negotiation."
Like many struggling in the Auckland market, they wish they had known just how rapidly house prices would soar while they were away. "If we had known just how much more we would have to pay, we would have considered buying a property before we left on our OE," says Van Veen.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and the couple decided to tackle the savings problem head on.
"We stayed in the UK a few months longer when we found out we were going to start a family," says Van Veen. "This allowed us to save some more, and we were able to bring back a little money, which effectively doubled on our return (with exchange rates)."
To gain the rest of the required deposit, the couple were able to access funds from Van Veen's KiwiSaver account.
"We only just scraped together the deposit. Our mortgage is huge," says Van Veen, who works as a marketing manager for Xero.
Fiance Jameson is a builder, which could come in handy when the couple decide to renovate.
"The house we have bought is absolutely liveable, but it could do to be opened up a little. It was built in the 1990s and still has the original kitchen and bathroom, so maybe in three to five years we will renovate. Everyone has their idea of a dream home, but you have to be realistic."
The couple describe their new home, on the North Shore, as "the perfect first home".
"It is relatively small, but good for us now. Finally getting a home feels like a weight off our shoulders. Now the hard part will be servicing the mortgage, but at least we have got a foot in the door."
A recent survey by Barfoot & Thompson shows this couple is indicative of 70 per cent of the first-home buyer market in wanting their own slice of paradise. Just 9 per cent of those surveyed were considering an apartment for their first home.
Receiving help from the family or a family estate is a way many young people are getting funds together for a deposit.
Mortgage manager Bruce Patten of Loan Market says many the first-home buyers he deals with in East Auckland now require family help to get on the property ladder.
"A few years ago it would have been fewer than 5 per cent," he says. "Now people getting help with finance from the family make up a good third if not half of all first-home buyers in this area. They are either receiving a gift, a loan or a guarantee from a family member."
Patten says the Loan-To-Value ratio introduced in 2013 requiring a 20 per cent deposit for most homeowners have cut a big portion of purchasers from the market. "It's no small secret that the banks are limited, and this has sparked the big change in family assistance."