What kind of place are you looking for?
Location plays a big part in determining a house’s price – and its resale potential.
Things you may want to consider are; what facilities are in the area, school zoning, public transport, safety, traffic flow and how much sun the property gets.
Existing home vs a new build
- You'll know exactly what it looks like
- It might be in the location of your choice
- You may want to renovate to add value
- Usually a lot of competition, potentially driving up the price
- You could be buying a property that needs a lot of work put into it
- Potentially easier to buy within your budget
- Everything will be new and modern, so if you're not into DIY it might be nice knowing that there won't be any maintenance for quite some time
- More low deposit options are available
- You might have to live further away from central areas
- You may need to wait a while before you can move in
- The area might not be that developed
Registering with a real estate agent
You can register with a real estate agent and they’ll look on your behalf for properties you might like. You can call an agent about a specific property you’ve seen advertised and arrange a time to go and see it. This can be better than going to an open home, as you’ll have the time and freedom to poke around and ask questions without anyone else there.
If you’re looking for independent information the REAA (Real Estate Agents Authority) is a great place to start, check out their website at settled.govt.nz.
Visit the locations you’re interested in at different times of the day – during the week as well as on the weekend. Don’t count a house out based only on the photos online – you can’t really tell without having a look yourself.
After visiting each house, make a list of its pros and cons so you can compare it against others later. Try to look past decoration and furnishings - you can change these once the house is yours!
If the real estate agent has any information about any issues or problems with the house, they have to tell you – but only if you ask.
Things to look for
- Signs of dampness, mould or dry rot – bulges in the walls, musty smells, soft wood
- Cracks in walls, floors that aren’t level – check for any signs of rot or borer holes, cracks in plaster or doors or windows that don’t sit square
- Drafty or jammed windows, or windows that don’t close properly
- Electrical issues – scorching around plugs, rubber-coated wiring. How old is the fuse board?
- Are there enough power points and lights?
- Check the taps, showers and toilets – is the water pressure good?
- Appliances – does everything work? Are any included chattels in good condition?
- Is the house insulated?
- Is there enough storage?
- Check behind and under furniture – it can often hide problem areas
- Spouting and gutters – look for rust, cracks and gaps. Are there storm water drains? Is there any water source nearby that could flood?
- Is there easy access to the house? Are paths or stairs in good order?
- Are any sheds, garages or decks in good order?
- Check the roof, inside the roof and under the house – are the piles level? Is there ventilation and insulation?
- What’s the sun like at different points in the day?
- Is there noise from traffic, planes and nearby businesses?
- Are there any restrictions on how you can use the property? Could you sub-divide? Are there covenants against certain things?
- Do sheds, garages and decks have consents or permits if they need them?
- Is access shared with any other houses – and who pays for any upkeep? Who owns the driveway or the fringe of lawn by the road? Are the trees behind the fence yours or the councils – and who has to maintain them?
Checks and reports
You’ll need to check the condition of a property before you commit to buying it.
If there’s work to be done, make sure you get a clear direction on this from the agent or owners. If there’s anything to be done that could affect the value of the house (and therefore your offer), get quotes for it before you go any further.
If you’re buying by offer and negotiation, you can make these checks and reports conditions of your offer, and do them while you’re negotiating. If you’re buying at auction or tender, you’ll want to have done them beforehand. Or make them a condition of your tender.
Check the title
The Certificate of Title is the legal document that records the boundaries of the land and any restrictions on its use. The title will also tell you if you’re likely to have problems adding a deck or extension later.
- How do I get this? Your lawyer should do this as part of the conveyancing process. If you’re buying by auction, the agent will provide you with copies of the LIM and Certificate of Title when you register your interest.
- How much will it cost? It should be included in your conveyancing bill – but check this with your lawyer.
Talk to the council
Check with the town planning department to see what zone the house is in, and whether there’re any changes or developments planned in the area.
- How do I do this? Call your local council or check their website – many of the councils have zoning maps available online.
- How much will it cost? It’s often free – but it’ll depend on your council.
Check the LIM (Land Information Memorandum)
A LIM contains lots of information about building consents that have been issued, erosion or subsidence, roads and flooding or any contamination of the land.
- How do I do this? LIMs are available through your local council. You can request it yourself or your lawyer can get it for you - sometimes they can take weeks to come through, so get onto it early if you can. If you’re buying by auction, the agent will likely provide you with copies of the LIM and Certificate of Title when you register your interest.
- How much will it cost? $150 - $400 – it’s more expensive in the bigger cities.
Check the valuation
All homes have a Rateable Valuation (RV) – homes can sell above or below it, but it’s a quick way to get a fix on whether the asking price is fair. Rateable Values are generated by a company called QV.
- How do I do this? You can find out the RV of a property from your local council (usually online) but if you want a more comprehensive report, check out QV.
- How much will it cost? The council will usually provide basic information free on their website. You can also find property reports from the QV website, you will need to pay for these.
Get a full valuation
A full valuation is when a qualified valuer will go and visit the property to provide a market value of the property. They'll look through the house and provide a comparision to recent sales within the area you're looking to buy.
You may decide that you don't need a valuation but sometimes your bank will want one as part of the terms of your approval for a home loan.
If we require a valuation as part of your approval we'll organise this on your behalf.
You'll need to cover the costs of the valuation, which usually cost between $650-$900 depending on the location and type of property you're looking to buy.
Get a builder’s inspection
A builder’s report will check things like whether the house is structurally sound, if the wiring is in good condition and if there’s any risk of leaks. You’ll need to find a builder or a building inspection company to carry this out for you.
- How do I do this? The Department of Building and Housing has a list of registered building certifiers on its website – dbh.govt.nz.
- How much will it cost? It varies depending on the home and the amount of detail you want – on average it might cost around $600.
Talk to a home loan expert - we're here to help
At any stage, our home loan experts are available to give you obligation-free advice and guide you through the process right to the end.
Our Mobile Mortgage Managers can come to a location of your choice and our Banking Consultants are available at your local Kiwibank branch. Our home loan team is also available by calling 0800 000 654 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.