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OPEN TO ADVICE: Kelly Mead said she would consider using the new scheme when the time came to buy a home for her and her daughter, Ashleigh Ford.

A ground-breaking scheme to help renters save a deposit for their first home has been launched in Tauranga.

The Government-backed pilot scheme, believed to be a New Zealand first, has been launched by Tauranga Budget Advisory Service and will involve budget advisers managing all or some of their clients’ income so they can save a deposit.

The initiative comes as rising house prices and rents dominate property news in the Western Bay.

First-home buyers have been hit by the Reserve Bank’s loan-to-value ratio (LVR) rules, brought in to cool down the housing market in 2013.

They have also been hit by rising rents which have arisen as a result of a severe shortage of rental properties in the region and rising house prices. According to QV the average Tauranga property value last month was $466,378 – 5.1 per cent higher than at the corresponding time last year.

Manager Diane Bruin told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend the service hoped to work with “your average person who wants to get out of rented accommodation”. Clients would have to commit to a financial management programme for up to a year and be prepared to work with its coaches to create a balancing budget.

“We provide a free service to clients and will manage partial or all of their income short term and coach them to be self-managing. Once new skills have been adopted then a monthly regular check in is required to ensure tracking to the client’s goals.”

Ms Bruin said the Tauranga organisation had identified issues including the establishment of satisfactory long-term housing solutions, crowded unhealthy conditions, affordability and support for those seeking to buy their own home.

“They may currently have rising or high-interest debt that is restricting them to adequately save.”

The Ministry of Social Development had provided assistance with a $20,000 grant to support about 20 clients to make informed decisions to meet their housing goals – and it planned to network with housing providers, banks, real estate companies, community organisations and local government agencies.

The service already offered total money management to help clients with debt reduction and education to make better financial choices, so the latest scheme was an evolution of that, she said.

“We have recently been successful in a similar project with clients in debt reduction and education to make better financial choices.

“This is the next stage where we see people who would love to be living the Kiwi dream of home ownership and need assistance and guidance to get there.”

Tauranga mother Kelly Mead was happy renting for now but said buying a house was a long-term goal and the scheme was something she would consider in future. It was a service she could imagine many people benefiting from as it became harder to get on the property ladder.

“It sounds like it would be a very valuable service,” she said.

“I try to [save] but I’m not that great. Any advice is always much appreciated.”

Classic Homes director Peter Cooney said the scheme would not solve the housing affordability or housing issues but it was a step in the right direction.

“If it’s going to aid people who have sufficient disposable income to be more disciplined about where they put their money and they direct it towards housing, then it’s good.

“It is all too easy to put things on hire purchase and buy things you don’t need. The society we live in these days is very consumable.”

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, said mortgage brokers could also help people understand what was needed to present a credible case to borrow money for a house.

Register your interest for the Housing Assistance Programme here.