Get smart before buying a property

Buying a property may be the biggest financial transaction you will ever be involved in, with potentially significant costs if it goes wrong, so find out as much information as you can about the buying process – even before you start looking at properties

​Get a lawyer before you start the buying process

When you make an offer on a property you will be asked to sign a sale and purchase agreement. This is a legally binding contract and the process can move very fast – so get prepared.

Read more about making an offer.

You can find a lawyer through the “find a lawyer” section of the New Zealand Law Society's website​.

Read our guides and information sheets

A wide range of information, including guides and information sheets, is available on this website to help guide you through the buying process.

We recommend that you read this information before you start looking for a property.  Key information about the buying process can be found in the Buyers and Sellers Guide - Get smart before buying and selling property  (.pdf 692 KB) and the Sale and Purchase Agreement Approved Guide (.pdf 551KB).  Agents must give you a copy of this before you enter into a sale and purchase agreement – but we recommend reading it before you begin the buying process.

This guide is available in a number of languages from the Forms and Publications section.

Find out about any agent you are considering dealing with

Check that the agent you are considering dealing with is licensed and whether they have had any complaints upheld against them. This information is available by searching our public register on this website. If you deal with an unlicensed agent you cannot seek redress through us if anything goes wrong.

Remember that the real estate agent always works for the seller, not for you

Agents are required by law to treat buyers fairly but, no matter how friendly and helpful they are, be aware that they are working on behalf of the seller who will pay their commission when the property sells.

Read more about dealing with real estate agents.  

Do your own research about the property

You can ask the agent anything you want to know about the property and they can’t withhold anything they know. However, you shouldn’t rely only on their information and you should do your own research. Consider getting a property inspection report, Land Information Memorandum (LIM), and a title search.  

Depending on the property, other things to consider getting checked out are: weather tightness issues; possible methamphetamine (P) ​contamination; the condition of plumbing and wiring etc.

Contamination from manufacture of methamphetamine (P or meth) is a serious health issue and buyers are advised to seek advice if it may be relevant to the purchase that you are making. The Ministry of Heath provides information​ and guidance regarding properties that have been used to manufacture the drug.  

Make sure you understand the different methods of buying and selling properties in New Zealand

These include sale by advertised price, by tender, auction, Buyer Enquiry Over (BEO) or Buyer Budget Over (BBO).

Read more about different methods of buying and selling a property.

Using a buyer’s agent

Occasionally a buyer – for instance someone living overseas – will use a buyer’s agent to source properties and oversee the purchase process.  Buyer’s agents must also be licensed.

A buyer’s agent is engaged and paid by the buyer and does not maintain property listings.  If you decide to use a buyer’s agent you should get very clear information in advance about costs, what services are provided as part of this cost and what, if any, additional expenses will be charged.

For more information, see our buyer’s agent information sheet (.pdf 229KB). ​​