What are the key pieces of information I need when buying... What are the key pieces of information I need when buying a first home?
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How do I prepare my home for bushfire season?

I’m looking to rent a bach at the beach or an alpine holiday home. What should I consider?

Holiday homes near the beach are in high demand during the summer in New Zealand, while alpine (ski) holiday homes will be popular during the winter and ski seasons. Here are some simple tips if you’re planning to rent a New Zealand bach during these peak seasons:
  • Availability will be much more limited during peak seasons, so plan ahead and book well in advance to make sure you secure your holiday home for the specific period you want.
  • Ask the owner or agent how far the bach or holiday home actually is from the sand and sea, or how difficult it is to get to the nearest ski field. Families with young children often prefer holiday homes right on the beach to avoid car rides or long walks.
  • Check whether your beach holiday home has outside lighting, a BBQ and outdoor furniture for dining - to maximise your enjoyment.
  • If booking an alpine holiday home, ask what kind of heating it has (gas or electric), and whether the power or gas required to run the heating is included in the hiring rental or not.

What are some tips for downsizing my home?

Downsizing your home raises lots of questions. Here are a few downsizing tips:
  • Even though they’ve moved out, you’ll probably still want to be involved in your children’s lives. Make sure your new home is handy to where they live, along with the locations of other family and friends.
     
  • You may not have the kids cluttering up your home anymore, but you’ll still need enough storage space for yourselves. Make sure that your prospective new home has enough room or you could find yourself missing the family house more than you thought.
     
  • Apartment living has common entry and access points such as parking bays, corridors and lifts that you may not be used to. It may take time to adjust from living in a residential house to living in closer proximity to your neighbours.
     
  • Apartment blocks have body corporate rules and monthly fees. Make sure you review these thoroughly before purchasing your dream downsized apartment.
     
  • Consider having an extra room in your property that can be used as a study, reading room or bedroom, when friends, guests, and children visit.

Can I rent out my holiday home myself or should I use an agent?

When deciding whether to rent out your holiday home personally, or to entrust it to a real estate agent or property manager, consider the following:
  • What knowledge of the industry and rental market do you possess?
  • How much free time do you have to devote to marketing your property, dealing with renters and handling any unforeseen issues?
  • Do you have the ability to handle maintenance issues personally (or the time and contacts to arrange for tradespeople)?
  • How willing are you to involve yourself in your customers’ rental experience or to deal with possible complaints?
If you decide to manage the letting of the holiday property yourself, there are a number of tasks that you will need to undertake.  These tasks include preparing an inventory and condition report at the beginning and end of each rental period, cleaning the property after it has been vacated, laundering used linen, replacing any broken appliances, and transferring the keys to each new tenant.

Self-managing owners need to be highly organised to handle all of the tasks required.  It also helps to have all advertising and booking mechanisms streamlined.

First National Real Estate property managers can handle all aspects of holiday home property management for you, removing hassle and stress.  Our property management fees are inexpensive, and are normally a tax-deductible expense. Contact our property managers now and let us manage your holiday rental for you.

What’s the best way to get a good price for my property, auction or private sale?

All New Zealand home sale methods have positives and negatives. Your local First National real estate agent can provide guidance on the most appropriate sales method for your home. Here are some tips about common home selling methods:
  • Auctions can sometimes result in a higher price for your property. In an ideal scenario, you will end up with two or more buyers who really desire your property driving the price higher than you anticipate. As successful auctions rely upon having a number of interested parties in attendance, the marketing undertaken before an auction to attract potential buyers is very important
  • Auctions are often appropriate if your property is unique and difficult to put a value on, or in a highly desirable location, or if you need to sell quickly
  • Private sales give you complete control over your initial asking price, but negotiations with buyers tend to only go in one direction – downwards
  • If you set too low a price with Private Sale, there’s a strong chance you won’t receive your property’s full market value.  If you set too high a price, you’ll be unlikely to attract any offers and the property could remain on the market for a long time. This can make potential buyers suspicious about the house and less willing to put in a fair offer

What do I need to know about keeping livestock?

Smaller livestock breeds are popular with first time rural block farmers, because they’re easier to handle and can be less costly and more manageable to farm.

Consider these following tips when thinking about livestock:
  • How far is the prospective lifestyle block property from veterinary facilities?  If animals get sick, you may need to get a vet to them quickly. Animals tend to get sick at the most inconvenient moments. Will you be able to drop everything to attend to your animals’ welfare if needed?
  • If you want to keep cattle, does the farm have appropriate fencing and loading ramps?  Does it also have cattle traps in roads and sufficient space for the cattle to roam?  Cattle generally require a large amount of grazing space
  • If you have horses, will you be available when horses are foaling?  Horses often need help to deliver their foals
  • If you have lambs, will you be available for lambing season?  New-born lambs sometimes need to be bottle fed for extended periods
  • Can you attend immediately to escaped cattle?  Are you able to quickly repair damaged fences yourself? Check that there are local fencing and farming contractors available and close to your lifestyle block if required
New hobby farmers will benefit from visiting one of the many A&P Field Days or lifestyle farming expos held each year in New Zealand, to get an understanding of what's truly required to look after farm animals.  At these shows you'll meet other lifestyle farmers, Council staff, and experts from various farming supply companies.  Local vets can also help you to understand the common issues they encounter.

What counts as relationship property?

The Relationship Act defines relationship property to include:
  • The family home.
  • Any household furniture and fittings, regardless of when they were purchased.
  • Any jointly owned property, or property purchased by a partner before the relationship began that has been in common (joint) usage.
  • Most property acquired after the relationship began (with some exceptions).
  • Financial assets such as shares, cash or other investments, that have been created (or contributed to) during the relationship.
  • Insurance policies related to any of the relationship property described above.

What’s the difference between ‘Auction’ and ‘For Sale’?

The three most common ways to sell residential property in New Zealand are via private treaty sale, auction, and tender.

Private Treaty Sale
This is the most common method for selling a house in New Zealand. A property will be advertised “For Sale”, with a fixed asking price or explicitly stated price range.
  • Interested parties make offers and negotiate with the seller through the seller’s real estate agent
  • The agent may be negotiating with several parties at once and acts under the instruction of the seller
  • When you commence a negotiation, it’s important to be serious and respond quickly, fairly and decisively
Auction
An auction involves prospective buyers bidding against each other at the same time, with the property being sold to the highest bidder.  Home auctions are becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, especially in popular cities like Auckland where there is limited house supply and a large number of buyers in the market.
  • The property will be advertised for a set period of time during which potential buyers must complete all of their enquiries (legal, building and any other relevant inspections), arrange their finance & be ready to bid
  • On the day of the auction, buyers (or their agents) put in competing bids until the highest bid is reached and no one is willing to bid any higher
  • Prior to the auction commencing, the seller will have informed the auctioneer of their ‘Reserve Price’. This is the minimum price they are willing to accept.
  • If someone makes a bid that is at or above the reserve price, the auctioneer will declare that the property is 'on the market' and the property will be sold to the highest bidder
  • If the reserve price has not been reached, the seller has the option to lower the reserve price and start the bidding again. Otherwise, the person who put in the highest bid (below the reserve price) will be given the first option to purchase the property at the reserve price
  • It the highest bidder opts not to purchase at the reserve price, the property is considered back on the market and any other buyers may negotiate with the seller (or their real estate agent)
  • If the property has been sold, the successful bidder must sign the Sale and Purchase agreement and pay a deposit (typically 10%) straight away.

Tender
A property sale by tender is a hybrid selling method. It involves a set tender period during which the seller will accept offers.
  • Each buyer submits a confidential offer in writing to the real estate agent.
  • At the end of the tender period (“tender day”) the seller will make their decision.
  • There is no reserve price and the seller is free to accept or reject any offer they wish to.
  • Often a deposit will need to be submitted along with the offer. This is refundable if the offer is rejected.

Will I need commercial property insurance?

It is always wise to take out commercial property insurance. Insurance packages are available that will typically cover:
  • Damage from natural disasters, fire, flooding and accidental damage.
  • Damage from break-ins and vandalism.
  • Loss of rental income (and protection against tenant rent defaults).
Contact your local First National Commercial real estate agent or insurance company for further information about commercial real estate insurance.

Who manages a commercial property?

Commercial real estate requires ongoing maintenance and management. Some landlords choose to manage their own property.  Other owners engage the services of a commercial real estate agent or property manager to take care of their investment. Investors who choose to manage their own commercial property must be prepared to take on all responsibilities involved, such as organising and overseeing maintenance and repairs, regular cleaning, property inspections and rent collection.

While standard commercial property lease agreements are used in New Zealand (such as one prepared by the Auckland District Law Society), variations to these leases are also common. The lease agreement will set out the obligations of the tenant and the landlord for rental payments and frequencies, and items such as maintenance and repairs. Typically, a landlord does not have to repair anything unless it is specifically stated in the lease agreement. Tenants are not usually liable for standard wear and tear, but they may be liable for certain regular maintenance expenses (such as redecorating).  

It is vital that all landlords who manage their own commercial real estate are completely familiar with the legislation governing commercial real estate lease tenancies. Contact your local First National Commercial real estate agent for independent advice, or to engage one of our commercial property managers.

I’ve found a house that is For Sale. How do I make an offer?

When you're ready to make a formal offer to purchase a house in New Zealand, there are a number of steps that are typically followed.
  • Normally you will make your offer through a real estate agent using a standard Sale and Purchase Agreement.
     
  • The real estate agent will present your offer to the owner, using the Sales and Purchase Agreement. If the owner accepts your offer, they will sign the form and this document will become a legally binding sale contract.
     
  • The seller may want to negotiate first, in which case they could make a counter-offer, or simply reject your offer and ask you to improve it. During these negotiations, the real estate agent will provide some guidance (for both owner and buyer) on what they think is a more acceptable offer.
     
  • Once the owner accepts your offer you will both finalise the Sale and Purchase Agreement. This agreement is legally binding, but you are both allowed to add conditions to the agreement which provide a right to back out of the deal if not met. Common conditions include making the purchase contingent on securing finance, selling your previous home, receiving the results of a building inspection, or having the seller make repairs.
  • Once you’ve signed the Sale and Purchase agreement, you'll need to pay a deposit to the real estate agent (usually around 10% of the purchase price). The real estate agent holds these funds in a trust account.
     
  • When your house sale goes Unconditional - i.e. when all the conditions included in the Sale and Purchase Agreement are met - the agent will deduct their agency fees and then pay the balance to the seller.
     
  • House sales in New Zealand do not have a cooling off period allowing a change of mind. Once you’ve signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement, there is no backing out of the transaction unless any of your conditions are not met.
It is always wise to seek qualified legal and financial advice before signing any agreement, if you are unsure of your own ability to protect yourself from risk.
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