Preparing to buy a home

Finding a new home can be fun, but it is important to ask the right questions and do your research before you commit to any purchase. Here are some of the things you should consider as you embark on finding your new home. It’s just a starting point so please talk to your lawyer before taking the next step.


Handy tips for house hunting

Tip 1: Go to open homes as early as possible

Try to go to open homes as soon as you can. That way, if you're really keen on a place, you've got time to see it again. Plus you've got more time to do your research (‘due diligence’), such as reading all the necessary reports, conducting inspections, arranging your finance and getting the legal paperwork sorted.

Tip 2: Take the brochures away with you

When you've been through 10 open homes, it can be hard to remember which one had the breakfast bar and which one had the ensuite. Salespeople normally have a range of materials available for you take away from an open home. Remember to take a pen so you can make your own notes about the property.

Tip 3: Look at the home privately

Don’t be afraid to ring an agent for a private viewing. Even if the property has an open home advertised, you can sometimes visit a property privately. This is a good idea as you’ll most likely have the agent’s undivided attention and you might be able to use the opportunity to put in an offer before anyone else.

Tip 4: Talk to the neighbours

They may be able to share information about the property and the surrounding area that the real estate agent doesn’t have.


Questions to ask your real estate agent

Found a house you like? Here are some questions you could ask the listing real estate agent to get more information about the property.

The agent will often have an information pack about the home. These are usually available on request.


Get a good lawyer on board

Getting good legal advice is very important when buying a property. Ideally you should get a lawyer on board when you’ve found a house you like.

Your lawyer will be able to advise you before you sign anything. They can provide advice on the negotiation process and the sale and purchase agreement, and check the relevant paperwork, like the LIM and Certificate of Title.

Typically the buying and selling process is referred to as conveyancing, and there are some lawyers who specialise in this area.


Check the property carefully before you buy

Make sure you include the appropriate conditions in an offer so that you check the property thoroughly to make sure everything is up to your expectations. Once an offer goes unconditional you’ll have very little comeback if you discover any problems. It might pay to get a builder's report if you're unsure what to look for.

It’s a good idea to have the right professionals check:

Building materials of the house

Insulation and heating

Roof, walls and ceilings

Cracks or signs of erosion

Electrical wiring




There are lots of other checks you could do. Take a look at the Department of Building and Housing’s checklist for property inspections.

Get a professional builder’s report

A builder’s report on a property can help you understand the structural and building condition of the house.

Some building inspectors use a non-invasive moisture meter to check for potential leaks, or you could get a specialist moisture test company to do the test for you. This is particularly important to avoid buying a leaky home.

It’s a good idea to use a building inspector who is a member of the NZ Institute of Building Surveyors.

Get body corporate meeting minutes if it’s a unit or apartment

If you’re looking at buying a property where there are shared spaces, like a unit or apartment, then it’s likely the property is managed by a body corporate. There are different rules and regulations regarding body corporates. You should talk to your lawyer before signing anything.

Consider getting an engineer's report

You may also want to consider paying for an engineer’s report for certain types of properties, for example a property on a cliff top section or one where you might want to check if the land is unstable.

For a list of qualified engineers, contact your local authority or the Institute of Professional Engineers

LIM reports

LIM (Land Information Memorandum) reports summarise the information the council holds on each residential property.

If you think a property has had work done that required building consent from the local council, like a garage or sleepout, it’s a good idea to get a LIM report. If the seller has made changes to the property without a permit, those changes will not show in the LIM. Ask your lawyer to check the LIM.

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