First home buyers club together

Times have got so hard for first time homebuyers that over 1000 have joined the First Home Buyers' Club in the hopes of getting their toes on the first rung of the property ladder.

The thousand members, who sign up for free, are not the end of it. FHBC has 5000 Facebook followers too, says its founder.

FHBC is run by Karen Lewis whose background is in running mobile mortgage manager teams for big banks.

It's a business, making its money on commissions on mortgages and insurances, but Lewis says it is more a work of passion.

FHBC aims to get youngsters ready to buy through free planning sessions, and information.

Lewis said: "It's a long sales cycle. We have clients who won't be ready to buy a home for three to five years."

And even then, they may just decide to do the mortgage themselves, so no commission comes FHBC's way.

One of the barriers is the lack of a plan, a lack of knowledge, and a fear of auctions.

"A lot of first time home buyers, about 80 per cent, say they don't even look at properties that are going to auction," said Lewis. "The problem is that more and more properties are. It is more and more difficult to find a fixed price property."

Former FHBC club members Brett Lipsham and Jenna Lilley bought at auction in October and moved into their new home in January.

They joined FHBC to get a plan in place, said Lilley, which made them realise that using their KiwiSaver money, their house-owning dream was closer than they realised.

Their success in buying a $440,000 home in an outlying Auckland suburb has led them to caution against buying into the negativity that surrounds discussions of prices. "All you hear is how it is so impossible," Lilley says. "And when you start looking at houses it feel a bit daunting, and you feel like you won't get anywhere."

But you can find nice homes for under $500,000, the couple said.

Lewis says FHBC can grow, despite losing a member each time one successfully buys a home. "We are still in our infancy, but we want to expand around the country."

Lewis has higher ambitions for the club. "The other vision we have is to become the voice of first home buyers. There is no-one who speaks for them," Lewis said. "They are a huge group. They are always in the news, but nobody is going into bat for them."

Many first home buyers now require their parents' help to get into a house.