Kiwibank’s first home buyer’s guide has everything you need to know about buying your own place.

Know what you can afford

It’s really important that you know how much you can afford to borrow before you start looking for a house. Start by having a play on our home loan calculator, or give us a call and we’ll help you work out what you could borrow.

It’s also a good idea to get a pre-approval certificate from the bank before starting the hunt. This is an assurance from a lender of the amount that you’ll be able to borrow. There’s no obligation to take the loan out, but you’ll have a lot more bargaining power when you know exactly what you can spend.

Find your dream home

Before you hit the open homes circuit, have a clear idea of what you're after. Write down your wish list — this could include maximum price, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the level of privacy you’re after.

Give your wish list to real estate agents, and be clear about what you will and won't compromise on. Try to check out plenty of properties to get a good idea of the market, and rate them according to how well they measure up to your wish list.

Make an offer

Found your dream home? If you’re buying by offer and negotiation, you’ll have to sign a Sale and Purchase agreement. At this point, it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer — they can make sure all the paperwork's in order and look out for your rights.

Don't feel pressured, and don't be afraid to put in conditions — remember that if you make an unconditional offer, you have to go through with it no matter what.

You can include any conditions you like — and if you’re not totally satisfied that they’ve all been met, you don't have to go through with the purchase. Some common conditions include:

  • subject to finance
  • subject to title search
  • subject to valuation report
  • subject to builder's report.

Give yourself at least 10 days to make sure all the conditions are met — it can take this long just to get a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from the council.

If you’re buying by tender, you can also include conditions, but if you’re buying at auction, you’ll need to make sure all conditions are met ahead of time, and have pre-approved finance.

Talk to the experts

Here’s a list of people we'd recommend you speak to before going unconditional:

  • the bank — confirm your finance
  • the council — get a LIM and check the zone your home's in, and if there are any planned developments for the area
  • a building inspector — to carry out an in-depth check of the house
  • an engineer — to carry out an in-depth check of the land
  • your lawyer — to check the title and make sure all the paperwork's in order
  • your insurer — it's not just contents insurance you need anymore. You'll need home insurance, as well as life and/or loan repayment insurance, so you don't have to worry about your ability to repay your home loan should the unexpected happen.

It’s also a good idea to make or update your will — you’re about to invest in a very large asset.

Going unconditional

This is it! If all your conditions have been met, it’s time to complete the paperwork and finalise all the details, including the settlement date. You’ll need to contact your real estate agent to let them know you're going unconditional. And make sure you organise a pre-purchase inspection to check that there’s no unexpected damage, and that the agreed chattels are all there.

Move in

Just when you thought the hard part was over! Now it’s time to: Pack up the house. Book the movers. Let your insurer know that you’ll be moving, and make sure your contents are covered during the move. Get your mail redirected. Let friends and family know your new address. Switch your phone, internet, TV, power and gas accounts. Find out your new rubbish collection day. Make sure the kids are enrolled at their new school. Unpack, and enjoy your new home.

Moving house - NZ Post website