National promises to add $10k to HomeStart grant for first home buyersby RNZ
Bill English says a strong economy has enabled the grant to be boosted.
The pledge was made by the party leader Bill English in Hobsonville yesterday.
If re-elected to government, National plans to increase the HomeStart grant by $10,000, meaning first home buyers could get $20,000 to buy an existing house and $30,000 for a new build.
The policy would mean 80,000 people getting funding to help buy a house in the next four years, National said.
Mr English said National could promise more money for first home buyers because of the strength of the economy.
He said National was tackling the problem of housing affordability from every angle.
"The proportion of first home buyers has risen a bit, the proportion of investors coming in the market has dropped quite considerably and the industry tell us that we're going to have continued strong growth in the number of houses that are going to be built."
The policy is for individuals, but couples earning up to $130,000 a year could claim the grant and put it together for a deposit. The income threshold for individuals is $85,000 a year.
Mr English said because the market was "flattening out", the price caps for the grant had not changed.
The biggest risk for homeowners, said Mr English, was interest rates rising under a Labour government.
"The combination of bigger spending, higher spending levels means there is a risk of higher interest rates ... if interest rates start rising that would put real pressure on people who borrowed recently and on those who were looking forward."
Mr English acknowledged he could not guarantee low interest rates under National.
"But we do guarantee to follow economic policy that makes it more likely they'll stay stable."
About 20,000 extra people were expected to access the grant, said Mr English, and he believed supply could keep up with the extra demand.
"What we hear from the builders and developers is because there is much more availability of land, if there is demand they'll be able to build to it, so yes we'd be working very hard to make sure the demand can be met."
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