Best First Home Buyer Home Loans

Buying a first home can be a challenge but, thankfully, there are deals that make getting into a first home a little bit easier! Canstar looks at the best home loan deals specifically for first home buyers.

There’s a lot to consider for first home buyers (FHBs). Sure, you need to look at a home’s location, its layout and whether it’s structurally sound. But your finances need some serious thought, too.

While house prices have cooled over the past year (down 12.4% in the year to November 2022, according to REINZ, now high interest rates threaten to quash the dreams of home ownership for prospective FHBs. 

In August 2021, the average one-year fixed rate for owner-occupiers on Canstar’s mortgage database was 2.58%. At time of writing (17/01/23), the same rate is a diabolical 6.66%.

For an average $500,000 mortgage, on a 25-year term, that’s an increase in fortnightly repayments of $536: from $1044 to $1580 – an extra $13,936 annually.

As a result, mortgage lending across the board is down a third and the number of new mortgages has slumped 28%. Although, it’s interesting to note that FHB lending hasn’t been as badly affected as other borrower profiles:

Average Home Loan Borrowing

Total lending ($million) Nov 2020 Nov 2021 Nov 2022
All borrower types $9289 $9121 $6055 (-33%)
First home buyers $1605 $1739 $1357 (-21%)
Other owner-occupiers $5384 $5760 $3656 (-36%)
Investors $2226 $1527 $957 (-37%)
Business purposes $73 $95 $84 (-12%)

Number of Home Loan Borrowers

Total No. Borrowers Nov 2020 Nov 2021 Nov 2022
All borrower types 28,102 23,172 16,701 (-28%)
First home buyers 3221 2959 2390 (-19%)
Other owner-occupiers 19,751 17,079 12,069 (-29%)
Investors 4850 2835 1977 (-30%)
Business purposes 280 299 265 (-11%)

However, with further interest rate increases on the horizon over the coming months, it’s clear that purchasing a first home remains as difficult as ever for young New Zealanders.

Related article: What is the Average Home Loan in New Zealand?

So where does that leave first home buyers?

Yes, it can all look a little doom and gloom. But there are home loan products out there designed specifically to help FHBs get over the threshold into a first home.

Of course, they all require you to be smart with your finances. But most offer lower rates, and/or incentives that can ease the financial pain.

So take a look below to discover if any of the mortgage products listed could help you take the next step on your homeowner journey.

Best home loans for first home buyers: cash incentives

The following banks currently offer cash incentives for new mortgage customers. Although it always pays to look at interest rates, rather than freebies. As higher interest charges in the long term will wipe out any short-term financial gains.


Buy your first home with an ANZ Home Loan and you could get a cash contribution of 1% of your loan, up to a maximum of $20,000. New home loans must be approved and documented by 31/03/23, and the cash contribution is conditional on keeping your home loan with ANZ for at least three years.


FHBs receive a $3000 cash bonus when they secure a home loan of $250,000 or more.


BNZ offers a cashback of up to 1% of your loan, to a maximum of $25,000. New home loans must be approved and documented by 31/03/23, and the cash contribution is conditional on keeping your home loan with BNZ for at least four years.


Kiwibank offers a $2000 cashback as part of its First Home Saver package (see below for more details).


SBS offers $2000 cash, plus a further $2000 in the form of insurance premiums and KiwiSaver contributions for FHBs who sign up to its First Home Combo package (see below for more details).

Best home loan deals for first home buyers

Kiwibank logo new


Kiwibank has a First Home Saver product that helps you save for a first home loan and then offers cash and discounted mortgage rates. First Home Saver offers:

  • Bonus returns on your deposit savings, with no account management or transaction fees: 4.10% p.a. (90 days’ notice) or 3.55% p.a. (32 days’ notice)
  • Cash contribution: $2000 towards your first home expenses when you draw down your mortgage
  • Discounted mortgage rates: 0.25% p.a. off the bank’s standard home loan rates

sbs logoSBS Bank: Canstar’s Bank of the Year | First Home Buyers 2022

In addition to great customer service, SBS Bank also offers extremely competitive mortgage rates for those with smaller deposits of just 10%. These are just two reasons why SBS Bank took out our most recent award for Bank of the Year | Home Loans.

However, one of the standout features of SBS Bank’s first home buyer offering is its fantastic FirstHome Combo deal, which features some market-leading interest rates.

SBS – FirstHome Combo

SBS Bank’s FirstHome Combo offers a range of benefits for customers who bundle all their banking, insurance and KiwiSaver products with the financial provider:

  • Interest rate of 5.39% p.a. fixed for one year. Or, if you’re building, a highly competitive floating rate of 5.44% p.a. during the construction process
  • $2000 cash to help cover the costs connected to purchasing your first home
  • $1000 to help cover your first year’s home and contents insurance premiums on policies with SBS Insurance
  • Interest-free balance transfer up to $2000 for 24 months on an SBS Visa Credit Card
  • $1000 top-up for Lifestages KiwiSaver Scheme account(s)


Logo of Squirrel, a mortgage broking and investment firm

Best first home buyers home loans: Squirrel – Launchpad

Launchpad is a hybrid blend of a regular mortgage and a personal loan. It’s designed specifically for FHBs who earn too much to qualify for government assistance, but still need a little help with their deposit.

Saving for a traditional 20% deposit can add years to saving for a first home. But Launchpad cuts the deposit needed to 5%, for properties up to $800k, and up to 10% for more expensive homes.

House price

Maximum LVR
(Loan-to-value ratio)

Minimum deposit

Launchpad loan





















How does Squirrel’s Launchpad work?

Launchpad works by splitting the loan into two parts. The biggest part comprises the traditional base loan, while the other part is the equity loan.

Base Loan (80% of house price)

This works like a traditional 30-year mortgage, with a choice of a floating or fixed interest rate. Current rates:

  • Floating: 6.59%p.a.
  • 1-year fixed: 7.94%p.a.

  • 2-year fixed:  8.09%p.a.
  • 3-year fixed: 7.99%p.a.

For the first five years of this loan, your repayments are set as interest-only. This means you can focus on paying off the equity part of the loan, which comes with a higher interest rate.

Equity Loan (up to 15% of house price)

This part of the loan works like a conventional personal loan. As such, the interest rate is a lot higher than the base loan. Current rate: 9.95%p.a. (subject to change).

The term of the loan is five years, which is the same as the interest-only period set for the base loan. During this time you can make extra payments at no extra cost, to pay off the loan faster.

The maximum equity loan available is $120,000, which means that if the house that you want to buy costs more than $800k, you’ll need more than a 5% deposit.

Related article: Squirrel’s Launchpad: Helping Kiwis into First Homes

The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank doesn’t offer cash incentives, although it does offer a FHB special rate of 6.29% p.a. for one year fixed, on new lending from $200,000 with a 20% deposit. However, its regular owner-occupier rate for those with a 20% deposit is 6.39%, so it’s not that special a rate!

The offer is also available for Kāinga Ora First Home Loans.


Best first home buyers home loans: Kainga Ora First Home Loan

The First Home Loan is a financial support program offered by Kāinga Ora, which acts as an underwriter on the loans. This allows a FHB to purchase a home with only a 5% deposit.

Originally, the First Home Loan was only available for houses priced under strict regional price caps. But last year the price caps were removed. So, with a First Home Loan, now it’s even easier to secure a loan for a home with a deposit of just 5%.

To be eligible, you must have earned no more than $95,000 (before tax) in the previous 12 months, or $150,000 (before tax) combined with your partner. You must also pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, a premium of 1% of the loan amount, which is usually added onto your mortgage.

→ Related article: What is the Kāinga Ora First Home Loan?

First home buyers: compare home loans with Canstar

If you’re in the process of securing finance, you’ll need to shop around to get the best deal. Which is where Canstar can help.

The table below displays some of the 2-year fixed-rate home loans on our database (some may have links to lenders’ websites) that are available for first home buyers. This table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical). Products shown are principal and interest home loans available for a loan amount of $500k in Auckland. Before committing to a particular home loan product, check upfront with your lender and read the applicable loan documentation to confirm whether the terms of the loan meet your needs and repayment capacity. Use Canstar’s home loan selector to view a wider range of home loan products. Canstar may earn a fee for referrals.

Compare home loan rates for free with Canstar!

Bruce Pitchers

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.

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