A new app aims to demystify the house buying process and set first home buyers on the right path to owning their own property.
First Home Coach (www.firsthomecoach.co.nz) is the brainchild of Matt Taylor and Jonathan Curtis, who say Kiwi first home buyers are often confused, overwhelmed and taking their advice from all the wrong places. Having seen how well a similar digital coaching platform worked in the UK, the pair have returned home to launch First Home Coach in New Zealand. Already, 6000 Kiwis are using First Home Coach, taking advantage of the free tools, jargon-free language, and step-by-step guidance to cracking that first home purchase.
“Buying your first home is about as Kiwi as it gets,” says Matt. “We launched First Home Coach after hearing time and time again how first home buyers fundamentally didn’t understand the process of buying a home, leading to stress, anxiety and making decisions under pressure.”
Matt says he was worried to learn that, often, first home buyers were asking their real estate agent for advice. “Clearly, they have a vested interest. Some buyers were so confused about fluctuating prices, property reports, LIMs, and engaging lawyers that they gave up on their dream altogether. Our aim with First Home Coach is to simplify the home buying process with a free, independent app that supports first home buyers at every stage of the journey.”
Users enter some basic details into the app – such as where they are in their house-hunting journey (not started, on the lookout, or already interested in a property), their location, what type of home they’re searching for, their income, and the general budget they have in mind. The app then delivers a tailored property buying plan that clearly demonstrates how much they’ll need to save for their deposit, legal expenses and other costs, a time frame to purchase and how much they’ll need to put away each month to get there.
While some app users are already well on their way to home ownership, Jonathan says there’s interesting data coming through about the realities for first home buyers in New Zealand. “It shows that many first home buyers in New Zealand are really stuck. While the majority of our users are couples earning over $100,000 per annum combined, and are more than ready to service a mortgage, they are deposit-poor. Their average deposit saved is around $50,000, and while this is a reasonable sum of money, most banks won’t even consider lending unless the potential buyer has a deposit closer to 20%. With the median house price at $725,000, they’re nowhere close.”
The First Home Coach platform comes in handy here too, working out the best way to maximise a deposit, and sharing up-to-date data on interest rates, what government assistance might be available to the first home buyer, and – later – advice on how to make a strong offer on a home, what going unconditional means, and even how to choose insurers or a moving service for your belongings. The app also allows you to build your “home buying team” – adding in, for example, your partner, or a mortgage broker.
Matt says the feedback from users has already been hugely positive. “Our digital coaching seems to have really resonated with Kiwis. There really hasn’t been a one-stop-shop for first home buying advice like this until now and buyers were very much relying on absorbing info from parents, extended family, the banks, and their real estate agents. Our advice is independent, accurate, practical, and the platform is fun to use.
“Our mission is to help fix the broken home buying process so that anyone who wants to buy their first home can achieve that goal. We hope thousands more Kiwis have a go at using First Home Coach to get them there.”
- 6000 First Home Coach users (as of November 2020)
- Most of the current users are in the “saving” and “hunting” stages of their journey (89%)
- 40% plan to buy on their own
- Average deposit saved is $51,181 (excluding any government assistance)
- 60% seeking a three-bedroom standalone house
- Just 5% are considering an apartment
- Most first home buyers are looking to purchase at around the $650,000 mark