Getting started

If you’re looking to buy your first home, a great place to start is with your deposit for a home loan. Most people will need 20%* of the property price as a deposit, but there are other deposit options available to help you get into your first home quicker.

The Home Loan journey

The Home Loan journey

Buying your 1st Home Diagram


Conditional approval


Should I apply for conditional approval?

It's a common practice here in New Zealand and can be helpful for first home buyers who may not know how much money they can borrow. However some people will wait until they’ve found a home they want to make an offer on, or have made an offer already. 

What does conditional approval mean?

Conditional approval means you’ve been approved as a borrower providing nothing changes for you, and the home you choose meets the loan provider’s lending conditions. This conditional approval tells sellers you’re a serious buyer – and if you want to bid at auction, conditional approval is a must-have, so please talk to us first. 

A conditional approval from Westpac is valid for 90 days and renewing your conditional approval is easy too – just contact us when the expiry date is approaching.

Apply for conditional approval, or get some more help

If you’re ready to apply, great! You can apply online and could be conditionally approved within 60 seconds (we’ll still need to see the required supporting documents before you can get on with renovating or making a bid on a house). You can also get one of our Mobile Mortgage Managers to come and see you, or visit a branch.

Or if you’re not ready to apply but want to talk to us about how we can help, simply click on here to request a call back. We’ll get back to you quickly.

Types of ownership

What types of ownership are there?

Freehold: this is the most common type of ownership. It means you own the land and house with virtually no restrictions on your ownership rights.

Leasehold: with this type of ownership you lease the land and pay rent to the landowner. You own the house but your use of the land may be restricted, and the rent can go up. You can sell the lease if you want to move, but you need to get the landowner’s consent first.

Cross-lease: this is where there are several homes on a piece of land and all the owners own the land together. Each owner leases the land their home is on from the others for a small cost.

Unit title: you own or lease your unit but common areas (like stairways and parking) are managed by the body corporate.

Company title: if you buy a flat with a company title, you buy ‘shares’ that give you the right to live there. The company administers and maintains the block of flats.

Licence to occupy: with this type of ownership you don’t actually own the land or buildings, but you could have a right to live there for life. This is the most common type of ownership for retirement villages.

Are you buying with someone else?

There are two main ways of sharing the ownership of a home.

  • With a joint tenancy, you own the home together and if one person dies the others take over the ownership – this is the way most couples own a home together.
  • With a tenancy in common, you each own a share and can leave your share to anyone you wish in your will – this is more common when there are several owners.

Another option is a property sharing agreement, but your lawyer can advise you about this and on the way to best set things up for your situation.

Home buying How-Tos


When applying for a loan

  • talk to the bank early on and find out what their lending requirements are
  • find a lender you feel comfortable dealing with and keep in touch with them
  • create a good savings history – even three to six months of regular saving can help
  • work out a budget before you see the bank to show you are well organised financially
  • pay off as many debts as you can before you apply for a loan (having other debts can reduce the amount you can borrow)
  • reduce the limits on your credit cards (lenders will take into account the maximum you could owe on credit cards)

Here's a list of things to have ready when you apply

When searching for a property

  • decide what areas you’re interested in
  • make a list of everything you’d like in a home (in priority order)
  • do a budget and gather up your financial information
  • talk to your lender – and ask about a loan conditional approval
  • do your research – talk to agents, read the papers and go online
  • find a good lawyer – ring several for quotes
  • look at as many homes as you can – and ‘score’ them.

Download the 'How does that home score?' checklist

Before making your offer

  • register your interest if the property is being sold by auction or tender
  • check the property out – use our checklist and talk with the local council
  • estimate the value – ask the agent about recent sales and price trends
  • talk with your lawyer about your offer (or the auction or tender documents)
  • get a LIM report unless your offer is conditional on the LIM report
  • ask your bank what finance conditions you need in your offer
  • check with your lawyer each time before you sign or countersign any papers.

Once your offer is accepted

  • pay the real estate deposit to the real estate agent
  • give a copy of the sale and purchase agreement to your lawyer and lender
  • decide what sort of home loan you’d like
  • arrange for a valuation report if one is needed*
  • organise builder’s and engineer’s reports if they’re needed*
  • if you haven't already, get a LIM report and check the district plan* (your lawyer usually does this)
  • arrange insurance for the new home
  • think about making a new Will
  • make a time with your lawyer and bank to sign papers
  • set up any new bank accounts and automatic payments needed.

Read more about when your offer’s accepted

At settlement time

  • do a pre-settlement check of the property
  • make sure you have your share of the money ready to pay to the lawyer
  • on settlement day check with your lawyer that everything is going ahead
  • after settlement check the statement and papers your lawyer sends you
  • make sure you get a copy of the title showing you are the new owner
  • check your loan and insurance payments are going out as expected.

Read more about settlement

Arranging the move

  • if you’re renting, give notice and apply for your bond back
  • get quotes from several moving companies
  • check your home and contents insurance covers the move
  • arrange a moving time with the other owners
  • contact power, gas, TV, phone and Internet companies
  • redirect your mail and send change of address cards.

*You may want to do these things before you make your offer but most people do them afterwards because they don’t want to spend the money until they know their offer will be accepted. If you want to buy at auction or by unconditional tender you’ll need to do all your checks beforehand.