Location plays a big part in determining a house’s price – and its resale potential.
Different areas have different things to offer. A sought-after area holds its value because other people will want to live there too – but competition is tough and prices can be steep.
Most people start small with their first house. You might not be able to afford your dream home straight away – but once you’re on the property ladder, it’s easier to start moving up it.
Check out information about any property you’re interested in at QV.co.nz – the neighbourhood profile is free and gives you good statistics about the area.
Things to consider:
- Facilities – shops, places to eat, libraries, churches, playgrounds. Where’s the closest supermarket? School? Doctor? How important are these things to you?
- Safety – is there somewhere for kids to play? What are the crimes statistics?
- Zoning – if an area is zoned commercial, there could be businesses around you later – even if there aren’t now.
- Education – even if you don’t have kids, being in a good school zone can help sell your house later. Check out school zoning areas
- Transport – how far are you from work? Friends? Places you visit a lot? Is there a good bus or train service?
- Feeling – are the gardens established and the houses well looked after? Do the neighbours and atmosphere seem pleasant?
Things you might want to look out for:
- Airport flight paths
- Busy roads
- Industrial areas
- Areas with limited access to public transport.
It can be cheaper to buy around these things… but chances are it’ll stay cheaper when you go to sell.
Your future plans
What does your future hold? Are you intending to:
- Start a family? You might need more room than you think!
- Travel? If you’re intending to leave the country for an extended period, do you need to consider the renting potential of your new house?
- Change your job or go back to school? How will this affect your ability to pay your new mortgage?
Your appetite for home improvement
The old adage states that you should buy the worst house in the best street. This means you’re surrounded by nice houses, so you might get yours a little cheaper – and if you put some time into doing it up, it might be worth a lot more when you sell it.
Note: Buying the best house on the worst street might get you a nice house cheaper, but its value may not improve unless the neighbourhood does – and you can’t control what your neighbours do!
Renovations are expensive – and time-consuming. Do you have the skills and experience to do any of the work yourself? If you do, do you have the time to devote to doing it – and can you survive in the house in the meantime, or would you need to live somewhere else while work was being done?
As a rough guide, you might need:
- $10,000 to renovate a bathroom
- $10,000 to re-roof
- $20,000 to put in a new kitchen.
Proximity to your family, friends and/or workplace
Buying outside the centre of town can be a little cheaper, but commuting to work in the city can be expensive – and it can take a big chunk out of your day.
How far are you willing to travel to get to the places you regularly visit – or how much is it worth to be close to the people you spend the most time with?
Your requirements checklist
It might help to put together a list of what you’re looking for in a property, broken into must-have, nice-to-have and must-not-have. Include your budgeted price in the must-have column and be prepared to move things from one column to another – you’ll probably have to make some compromises.
Here’s an example of what your requirements checklist might look like:
- Price less than $420,000
- Good sun
- Close to public transport
- Within half-hour drive of work
- 2+ bedrooms
- Spacious living area
- Walking distance to Primary School
- Fenced off section
Nice to have
- Large garden
- Garage/off-street parking
- Walking distance to local shops
- Character home
- Park/green area nearby
Must not have
- Noisy/busy road
- On flight path
- Noisy neighbours
Registering with an agent
Real estate agents are hired by the seller to market and sell their property - they’re paid as a percentage of the sale price, so it’s in their interest to get the best price they can for a house.
You can register with an agent and they’ll look on your behalf for properties you might like. You can give them your criteria and they’ll show you the properties they have that might match what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for independent information the REAA (Real Estate Agents Authority) is a great place to start, check out their website reaa.govt.nz.
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 to an open home, as you’ll have time and freedom to poke around and ask questions without anyone else there.
Note: Remember that the agent works for the seller, not you - don’t let them push you into anything you’re not 100% comfortable with!
A mortgage broker works with banks and lenders to find you a mortgage. They’re paid a commission by the bank or lender that gives you your loan. Not all banks offer their loans through brokers (Kiwibank doesn’t), so you won’t get all the options – but they will help you with paperwork and advice.
Group houses by area – it’s a good idea to visit several open homes in the same area at the same time. Visit the locations you’re interested in at different times of the day – and during the week as well as on the weekend. Check out the traffic, the facilities, noise levels, sun – how does the area make you feel?
Don’t count a house out based only on the photos online – you can’t really tell without having a look yourself. If you’re organised, you could do a drive-by of all the houses you plan to hit the day before. This is a better way to rule out any non-starters.
Narrowing the field
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!
When you’ve found a house you like, go back again for a thorough inspection. Try to visit (or at least drive by) at different times of day and in different weather to get a feel for what it might be like to live there.
Get a friend or a family member to visit the house with you for an objective view.
If the real estate agent has any information about downfalls of 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 – will the neighbours cause any problems?
- 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?
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.
Found the house you want? It’s time to get ready to make an offer.