Buying A Home In New Zealand

Buying A Home In New Zealand
Once settled in the new country, the thoughts of many migrants aiming at permanent residence or even citizenship may turn to the purchase of a home. Both on North and South Islands there's a wide choice of apartments, units or flats (usually terraced houses), detached houses or smaller, modern townhouses. Prices vary considerably, with South Island in the main a great deal cheaper than North Island.

Buying a home in New Zealand almost certainly involves a completely different process than in your country of origin. Most property here is offered through an estate agent at a fixed price, with making a lower offer the accepted way to begin. Property auctions are the alternative, chosen when a seller believes interested buyers will bid upwards or when foreclosures by lending banks force sales.

Estate agents may persuade sellers to use the auction route, as they charge a fee to the seller even if the house remains unsold, although proceeding through an agency is still the easiest way to find the home of your dreams. Agencies can guide a new arrival through the various areas according to requirements such as schools and transport options and, of course, viewing multiple properties with an agent is straightforward.

Once you've found a property of interest and negotiated a 'conditional offer', the next step is to engage a solicitor (lawyer) to take care of the paperwork. You will need to request a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from the local government office at a fee of between NZ$100 and NZ$400. This gives details of boundaries, zoning, permissions to build, etc. A Quotable Value document confirms house prices in the area, plus other details.

Once you are satisfied with the reports, your offer becomes 'unconditional', a 10 per cent deposit is paid, the legal paperwork is drawn up and within weeks you can move to your new home. If you're bidding on a home at auction, you may make an offer before the auction begins, although it's legally binding and counted as an auction bid. The seller may accept your bid or go to auction as planned.

Strangely, at auction the seller is allowed to bid the price up through the estate agent handling the sale. At this point, private buyers should stop bidding! Buyers at auction should also note that the full bid price of the home is due immediately.