Will you own a home mortgage free by the time you retire?

Our 2019 Review of Retirement Income Policies found that those who won’t are among a growing group.

Home ownership

Home ownership

Home ownership has been declining for the past 30 years, from a high of about 78% in the 1980s, to about 55% today

Māori and Pasifika have fared the worst – today only 35% of Māori and 20% of Pasifika own their own homes.

Only 38 per cent of people between the age of 55 and 64 are mortgage free.

The percentage of people aged 65+ with no mortgage has also dropped from 78% in 2007 to 72% in 2017.

Today, about 12% of people aged 65+ are still paying a mortgage, and the same number are renting.

They’re eligible for Superannuation, but Super wasn’t designed to cover rent – it currently pays $411 for a single person; $632 for a couple. At that rate, it assumes you have housing sorted.

Should Super be changed to allow for more people in retirement still paying for housing, or is covering our housing cost up to us?

The role of KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver allows you to withdraw your savings for a house deposit, and about half of first home buyers are using it.

If home ownership is so important in retirement, should the rules be relaxed around using KiwiSaver for other types of housing investment that could pay off later in life?

Or do we risk draining our retirement savings by making KiwiSaver too easy to use to buy property, putting all our investment eggs in one basket?

KiwiSaver withdrawals to finance first homes have risen steadily – in the year to June nearly $1 billion was withdrawn by first home buyers, up from $870 million in 2018.

Those deposits signal a lot of new mortgage debt – mortgages now total $256 billion, and that’s on top of consumer debt ($17 billion) and student debt ($16 billion).

How many of us will still be paying those mortgages in retirement, or worse, renting?