NZ FAQ Series Part 4 - The NZ Property Market

When migrating to New Zealand, one of the biggest you may face is where to live. Whether to rent or buy, how to buy, and where to buy - these are some of the biggest questions asked. We've teamed up with property experts Ray White who answer our questions in this month's FAQ series:

1. When I first arrive, should I rent or look to buy straight away?

New Zealand is a popular place to live, access to outdoor activities, skiing, hunting, watersports, hiking and kayaking and remote unspoiled environments make it attractive. Because it's so popular, the housing market is booming and the cost of property is on the rise, so it's a good idea to buy as soon as you can. 

That said, renting first lets you get to feel of a city, and a chance to explore the particulars of each suburb, parks, schools and social makeup. If you look to rent first, there are some important facts to know.  

  • The amount advertised or the cost of renting is usually per week not monthly. i.e $400 per week is $1600 per month.

  • Your rent normally covers rates and insurance of the home but not insurance for household contents.

  • Some locations may be charged for water usage, or if excess is used.

  • A 4 week bond is normal, character references and credit checks are also required before being accepted as a tenant.

  • Each city may vary greatly in charges for similar homes.

  • Power and phone is normally the tenants cost along with the maintenance of the garden unless noted on the tenancy agreement.

  • The home will be advertised furnished or unfurnished.

2. What is the property like in New Zealand? 

If you go for an older home in New Zealand (pre-1984) you may find they don't have much insulation, perhaps single glazed with insulation only in the walls. New building codes in place mean that all new builds have much better insulation including underfloor and an R rating in the roof space. Landlords are now also required to ensure that they improve these conditions in older homes. Most houses tend to be timber-framed, brick houses are much less common in NZ.  

In terms of location, you have the same rural vs suburb choices to make as in any country. A typical rural commute is around 1/2 hour travel time for properties outside a town.

3. When buying a property, what are the differences to the UK?

A big difference you may find is that in some areas around 50% of the homes are sold at Auction. The owner provides information packs to all interested parties prior to anyone bidding or making an offer, which includes the Title, Land Information Memorandum and any known issues that may affect the price. Disclosure is a big part of the real estate agents job so buying privately can come with more risk. You should always have your own building inspection prior to the auction, or in the body of the offer you make to the owner.

With the auction the highest bidder wins if it has met reserve, and most homes are advertised with a reserve. Occasionally there's no price on a property so you should talk to a real estate sales person or valuer to give you access to data on sales. Ray White can provide market information for each city suburb and email you all new listings

4. Do I need to have a mortgage arranged before I make an offer on a property?

Finance and Mortgages need to be pre-approved before making an offer and bidding, the biggest lender with more options is the 'Loan Market'. It's a no cost service  - contact Brent or Colin on 03 386 0311.

We recommend to our clients that they speak to a solicitor prior to signing a contract, and also ensure they've read a guide book on Sale and Purchase agreements.

5. Anything else that's different to the UK when buying a property? 

In NZ there's no gazumping. The difference here in NZ is once you have a contract you have secured the property (subject to certain aspects you would like to check within certain periods of time specified in the contract). But do be aware that if you buy through an auction, the fall of the hammer means you own the house - so doing your homework prior to bidding is essential.