Rent week: a reader shares the story of her struggles to buy a house. She’s done everything you’re supposed to do as an aspirant home-owner – yet the banks won’t lend to her. Here she shares her story.
I’m one of what I presume are many embittered twenty-somethings who feel like Stuff and NZHerald are just taking the piss now, with their ‘relatable’ home-owning stories.
My partner and I have been together for two years now. We realised last year that for us, buying a home is a priority. We’ve got friends who are content to rent for the foreseeable future, but we hated paying someone’s mortgage. So we re-thought our short-term and long-term plans.
I’m from a small town in Northland, but had been living in Auckland for about seven years, going to university, and then working in a Government department. We realised we were never going to be able to afford a house in Auckland, but if we set our sights 180km north-west, we might be more likely to achieve the home owning goal.
I moved up here in August 2016, after scoring a job that was the next step up for me. It’s a role that I couldn’t get in Auckland, because I didn’t have enough experience, but could get here because there was significantly less people interested in relocating to a rural area. My partner followed in October, and we lived with my parents for the rest of the year, paying board.
We started looking for a house to buy, but quickly hit rough waters.
We have a $55,000 deposit (and growing everyday), and were looking at borrowing no more than $250,000. We didn’t want to pay more than $300,000, preferably buying something around the $250,000 tag to keep our mortgage down. Buying a three bedroom home for that is actually achievable here.
For us, however, it’s not – because my partner is only on a six-month fixed term contract at his new job up here. There’s been promises of it turning into a full-time job, but nothing we could get on paper after only being there for a month to satisfy the banks. My income is enough to service mortgage repayments by itself, if the worst came to worst and he was unemployed for a little bit, but that wasn’t enough to turn the tide against us.
We’ve now been rejected from ASB, ANZ, BNZ, Westpac, Kiwibank, TSB, SBS, New Zealand Credit Union, and a variety of weird other banks. If you google ‘mortgage nz’, be positive that every result that comes up has said no to us. Three mortgage brokers tried their best, but got nowhere.
We tried Welcome Home Loans, because we thought, ‘hey if they loan on 10 percent deposit, surely they’ll take more of a risk with our employment background, because we’ve got 20 percent’. No such luck. We were also told that one of us would have had to have been in our current job for 12 months at least.
We upped our Kiwisaver contributions, and put them with a provider that apparently gets the best returns. We started saving our money in a joint account optimistically titled HOUSE DEPOSIT, but that’s not enough to get banks to take a chance on us.
Combine all that rejection with external pressures, like real estate agents who tell you helpful things like ‘you should have brought two years ago, prices were right for you then’ (because buying a house together was our other second date plan, but we just went for going to the movies), and being surrounding by people in their forties and fifties who own at least one rental property on top of their own.
We’ve decided to try and rent up here for a year (we pay $290 for a three bedroom home, which we share with my brother, and after renting in Auckland for so long at exorbitant prices, it feels amazing), but knowing that’s a years worth of mortgage repayments with nothing to show for it at the end of the year sucks.
It’s raised so many questions for me – like how do people who are self-employed get a home? How do mums who are on maternity leave manage to buy a house at the same time? The financial system is simply not geared towards any type of lifestyle other than the extremely conventional (like working the same full-time job for years at a time). This at a time when the rise of the gig economy, which we’re supposed to embrace, means there are fewer jobs like that available.
It sucks that my student loan is seen as a financial liability when I apply for a mortgage. I know it’s something that I’m repaying, but our society needs educated young people, so why am I being penalised so heavily for it? I’m a big fan of the bill which Gareth Hughes introduced that would see me able to defer my student loan repayments to put towards a first-home deposit. As one of the few people I know who finished uni and stayed in New Zealand, some financial advantage from having done that would be bloody nice.
And I wish the articles would freaking stop. I go out for brunch like once a month (and it’s never avocado on toast), I drink the cheap instant coffee at my work, we don’t have Sky, our Netflix is my brother’s account that we’re using because he forgot to log-off when he was at our house once.
We can’t all live rent-free at home (we moved out because other siblings came home, and it was too crowded), and not every parent wants to be a guarantor. These bullshit stories help create this horrible generational tension which makes everyone over the age of forty look down their nose at me whenever I make any type of purchase – with pointed comments like ‘what happened to saving for a house?’
Because what happened was, we saved – but it wasn’t good enough.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.