The rules for overseas people buying or building residential property in New Zealand have changed. In general, only residents and citizens can buy homes to live in, but other investment opportunities are available. We have tools and advice to help you understand how the changes in the act affect you. Once you know you are able to buy in NZ then here are some hints and tips for the buying process.
About buying a property
Once you’re ready, you’ll find the buying process is well organised and well regulated to ensure a fair process for both sides.
In New Zealand, it can take as little as three to four weeks to complete a house purchase once you’ve found the place you want. Once a bid is formally accepted, last minute offers can’t be considered, which makes buying here a lot less stressful than it is in some parts of the world.
If you choose to buy a section (a block of land) there are a number of options for building a home tailor-made for your needs.
Most houses in New Zealand are standalone buildings on a block of land that you purchase with the building. However there are other types of land ownership, so it is important to understand what you are buying.
The purchase process
Most home and land sales are completed using a real estate agent, with a smaller number of sales made privately. In either case, it is wise to get independent advice from a lawyer experienced in home buying (‘conveyancing’) before you make an offer.
Property advertisements usually show either an RV (rateable value), GV (government valuation) or CV (council valuation) figure. These figures refer to the valuation used by the local council to calculate rates (council tax) for the property. They aren’t registered valuations and they often don’t reflect the property’s true market value.
You can find an overview of values based on actual sales on the website of ‘Quotable Value’. It has district-by-district profiles covering general sales information, population and local weather. You can also buy more detailed reports about previous sales in the area or even for a specific address.
Finding a property
A good place to start looking for properties is online at TradeMe or other property websites. They have listings from real estate agents as well as private vendors. Remember however some properties are only listed on the agents’ own websites or brochures available in the local area.
If you’re buying or building a home you’ll need to include rates in your budgeting. Home owners including landlords pay rates, but tenants don’t.
Rates are a ‘tax’ charged by local councils to help pay for the services they provide the community. Rates vary from place to place, but they’re always based on the value of the property.
Your local council’s website will have more information about the rates you’ll be paying in the area you’re considering. Check the ‘Community services’ on our Regional pages for local council contacts.
As a new arrival, you won’t have a credit history so make sure you bring some evidence of your credit history in your home country. For more about banking and mortgages in New Zealand, see our banking page
You’ll need a good deposit to get a home loan, as there are currently restrictions on how much of a property’s value banks can lend you. They’re called the loan-to-value ratio requirements (LVR).