Squirrel’s Launchpad: Helping Kiwis into First Homes

Squirrel’s Launchpad is an innovative mortgage product that’s helping prospective Kiwi home owners. Canstar looks at how Launchpad can help propel you into your first home.

If you’re a prospective home owner, you’ll know that one of the hardest parts of buying a first home isn’t managing the mortgage, it’s saving for the deposit. But thanks to Squirrel’s Launchpad – a mortgage product designed for first home buyers – getting into a first home is a little easier.


Squirrel’s Launchpad: Helping Kiwis into First Homes. In this article we cover:


What help is already available for first home buyers?

It’s hard trying to save for, and buy, a first home in New Zealand … on multiple levels:

  1. House prices are through the roof, after over a decade of crazy house price inflation, they’re only now starting to cool
  2. Saving a sizeable deposit takes years, especially as inflation bites and wages struggle to keep up
  3. While saving for a deposit, you still have to pay rent, and rents are certainly not coming down

There is help for first home buyers, including the First Home Loan and the First Home Grant schemes.

Under the First Home Loan scheme, borrowers are eligible for a home loan with just a 5% deposit if they earn under $95,000 a year for one person, or under $150,000 for two or more people buying together.

The same salary caps apply for the First Home Grant scheme but, in addition, the cost of the home you buy has to fall under restrictive regional price caps.

All of which is of little help if you’re on a decent salary. And this is where Squirrel’s Launchpad can help.

→ Related article: What is the Kāinga Ora First Home Grant? And How Much is It?

 

What is Squirrel’s Launchpad?

Launchpad is a hybrid blend of a regular mortgage and a personal loan. It’s designed specifically for first home buyers 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 properties.

House price 

Maximum LVR
(Loan-to-value ratio) 

Minimum deposit 

Launchpad loan

$1,100,000 

91% 

$100,000 

$1,000,000

$1,000,000 

92% 

$80,000 

$920,000

$900,000 

93% 

$60,000 

$840,000

$800,000 

95% 

$40,000 

$760,000

$700,000

95%

$35,000

$665,000

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: 4.59%p.a.
  • 1-year fixed: 5.60%p.a.

  • 2-year fixed: 6.16%p.a.
  • 3-year fixed: 6.29%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.

Example:

Here’s an example of the repayments for a Launchpad loan for a $800,000 home, bought with a 5% deposit of $40,000.

 

Loan Amount

Rate

Monthly repayment

Equity 

$120,000

9.95%p.a.

$2547

Base

$640,000

4.59%p.a.

$2495

Total Loan

$760,000

5.44%p.a.

$5042

NB: Repayments based on a 5-year term at the interest rate specified. This is a hypothetical example only. Interest rates are subject to change.

Launchpad vs. renting and saving: how does it stack up?

When looking at the monthly repayment in the above example: $5042, it can appear a bit steep. It works out at $1163 per week. That compares to average weekly rents of around $600 per week in Wellington, Auckland and Tauranga, and between $400 and $500 around the rest of the country.

But you have to remember that $588 of that weekly amount comprises the equity loan. The base part of the loan, in the example above, works out to $576 per week.

If you pay off the equity loan each month, that part of your repayment will disappear within five years. Faster if you manage to make extra payments.

In the example above, the equity loan over five years costs $32,802 in interest payments. Over the same period, if the home increases in value by just over 4%, it will make back the costs of the loan. And even if the price of the home remains static – the owner will still have $160k equity (20%) in an $800k property.

Who and what type of homes are eligible for Launchpad?

To be eligible, the property must be a house, townhouse or apartment of at least 50m² that you plan to live in, not an investment property.

And, when it comes to who is eligible for Launchpad, again, it’s a pretty broad sweep of prospective first home buyers:

  • First home buyer
  • 5% saved deposit (includes KiwiSaver)
  • On PAYE or a self-employed contractor for at least a year
  • Intending to live in the property
  • Buying in a metro location

Do note that there is a one-off $1000 administration fee payable, which can be either paid upfront, or added on to your loan.


If you think that Squirrel’s Launchpad could be a good fit for your budget and first home aspirations, you can find out more about it here, by clicking through to Squirrel’s website. Or to compare a wide range of different mortgages and lenders with Canstar, just click on the button below.

Compare home loan rates for free with Canstar!


Bruce PitchersAbout 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.

Enjoy reading this article?

Sign up to receive more news like this straight to your inbox.

By subscribing you agree to the Canstar Privacy Policy

Share this article