Popularity of New Plymouth KiwiBuild development sees introduction of ballot system, angering potential homeowner

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Savita Chand, 50, is angry the New Plymouth KiwiBuild homes have moved from a first in, first served system to a ballot.

SIMON O’CONNOR/Stuff

Savita Chand, 50, is angry the New Plymouth KiwiBuild homes have moved from a first in, first served system to a ballot.

Savita Chand thought KiwiBuild was her chance to finally enter the booming New Plymouth property market – but then the purchase process changed.

When the first 23 homes in the 68-house Discovery Development in Marfell went to market in October last year, they were sold in a first-in, first-served process.

At a price between $380,000 and $450,000, the homes are the cheapest new-builds in the district and the first tranche were snapped up by Christmas, with some people even moving from out of town to buy one.

Since then, a further 19 homes have been sold under the same process.

But just before Easter, Kāinga Ora, which runs KiwiBuild, changed to a ballot system because it expected interest in the remaining 26 homes to outstrip supply.

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The move has angered Chand, who says her dream of homeownership has effectively been reduced to a raffle.

“It’s not fair – the rules should be the same for everybody.”

Questions about how many people are waiting to move into their homes have not been answered.

SIMON O’CONNOR/Stuff

Questions about how many people are waiting to move into their homes have not been answered.

Chand, a bakery manager, first started looking at the homes in January, after years dreaming of owning her own home once she’d put her son, Edvin, through university.

“You can’t compete in this market – it was perfect for me.”

Chand and Edvin moved from Fiji to New Zealand in 2009 with no more than $500 and a suitcase.

Shortly afterwards, they moved to Taranaki, and have been New Zealand residents since 2013.

After Chand first looked at one of the KiwiBuild homes she started the eligibility process and working on her finances.

She got it all accepted and was told that once the house she was eyeing up was ready she could attend an open home and nab it – ‘first in, first served’.

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Taranaki-born Kylie Guthrie has bought her first home for $400,000 during property market madness – it’s a Kiwibuild. (Video first published Feb 2021)

“Everything was done – I was just waiting for the house.”

But the 50-year-old said she never heard anything more, so got in touch with real estate agents in late March.

It was then that she was told the remaining 26 homes would now be sold through a ballot draw.

But Chand did not think this was fair and she has written letters to the Prime Minster, MP Glen Bennett and head of Kāianga Ora complaining about the change.

“It’s not just about me, it’s for the other people.”

If nothing changes between now and the ballot, Chand plans to go for all the houses she can afford, to give herself the best shot at getting one of the remaining homes.

“I have to… I have no choice.”

Mike Powell, of Harcourt's team Taranaki, said they have had a lot of inquiries in the remaining homes.  (File photo)

RNZ / Robin Martin

Mike Powell, of Harcourt’s team Taranaki, said they have had a lot of inquiries in the remaining homes. (File photo)

Discovery Development projects supervisor Mike Powell, of Harcourts Team Taranaki, said the final houses should be completed at the end of May, and the ballot open not long after that.

He said there had been “a lot of inquiries”.

Powell said there had been a few people who had “expressed a little disappointment” in the ballot system, but his team supported the Government’s decision.

“We just want to make sure everyone gets a fair go.”