Buying a home is a big deal. That's why we’ve provided some information on the most important things to consider. If you’d like to know more, download our free Home Buyers' Guide.
Do your own research about the property
The real estate salesperson represents the seller. He or she will tell you a lot about the property and will answer any questions, but you should do your own research as well.
We recommend you get these key reports before placing a non-conditional offer on a property.
A title search gives you all the records about the property that are held by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). It shows the legal owner of the property, the legal description and any rights and restrictions against the property title – such as a mortgage or access across the property (easements).
Land Information Memorandum (LIM)
The LIM is a comprehensive report provided by the local council about all the important current and historical information the council knows about the property. It’s important to get a LIM because it provides you with information you need to know about eg, potential erosion or flooding; drains; rates information; consents and classifications relating to the property.
Property inspection report
A qualified property inspector will tell you about the condition of the property.
It’s a good idea to select a property inspector and/or engineer at an early stage of your home buying process so you are ready to arrange an inspection when you find a property you want to buy. We recommend you choose a property inspector who has professional indemnity insurance and carries out their work in accordance with the New Zealand Property Inspection Standards.
Your financial lender may ask you to provide a valuation report for the property.
You can read more about researching a property and how to get these reports in our Home Buyers’ Guide. Download the Home Buyers' Guide (pdf 253KB).
Get legal advice
Buying property is expensive, and it can cost even more if something goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to get your own legal advice before you sign anything.
We recommend you engage a lawyer to help you through the buying process. Choose a lawyer before you set out to buy a property – buying can be a fast-moving process.
Sale and purchase agreements are legally binding documents, and you should consult your lawyer before signing them.
You can read more about legal advice and how to find a property lawyer in our Home Buyers’ Guide. Download the Home Buyers' Guide (pdf 253KB).
Understand the sale process and method of sale
There are several methods of buying and selling property in New Zealand:
- Buying at an advertised price
- Buying by tender
- Buying by deadline sale
- Buying at auction
It’s important to understand the process for the property you are buying.
Practices vary from salesperson to salesperson and from sale to sale. Make sure you confirm the details with the salesperson and get legal advice before you sign anything.
Whatever the process, it’s important to do your research about the property by getting a title search, a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report and having the property inspected by a property inspector and/or engineer before you place a non-conditional offer.
You can read more about the sale process and methods of sale in the Home Buyers’ Guide. Download the Home Buyers' Guide (pdf 253KB).
Read the sale and purchase agreement and understand what it can mean for you
The sale and purchase agreement is legally binding so it’s important to read it carefully and get legal advice. You can negotiate the terms and conditions of an agreement but once you sign it there’s no going back.
We publish a guide to the sale and purchase agreement. The salesperson must give you a copy of the guide before you sign a sale and purchase agreement. We recommend reading the guide early in the buying process. Download a copy of the Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide (pdf 576KB).
The sale and purchase agreement sets out all the agreed terms and conditions including the price; chattels; type of title; conditions of sale; settlement date and deposit details.
You can read more about the sale and purchase agreement here.
Clauses included in the agreement
The agreement will also include clauses that set out obligations and conditions that the buyer and/or seller must abide by. These may include what access the buyer can have to inspect the property before settlement and ensuring the property remains insured until the settlement date.
Default by buyer or seller
Clauses are also likely to cover what happens if the buyer or seller defaults. This covers compensation costs that must be paid by the buyer or seller if either defaults on the terms of the agreement, for example, by delaying settlement. Your lawyer can explain these clauses to you.
You cannot change your mind after you have signed the agreement
In general, when you have signed the agreement and the conditions set out in the agreement have been met, you have to go ahead with the purchase of the property.
When the buyer and seller have signed the sale and purchase agreement, the offer is accepted. The buyer must pay a deposit – usually 5–10 % of the purchase price. The deposit details will be set out in the sales and purchase agreement.
The buyer can negotiate when the deposit is paid, for example, when the (conditional) offer is accepted or when the agreement becomes unconditional.
You can read more about the sale and purchase agreement in the Home Buyers’ Guide. Download the Home Buyers' Guide (pdf 253KB).