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How do I prepare my home for bushfire season?

How else can I generate income from my lifestyle block?

There are a large number of ways that your lifestyle block can generate income.  You should select an opportunity that is suitable for your property type, that fits in with your lifestyle and work ethic, and that you'll enjoy being a part of.  Some of the ways that lifestyle block owners produce income are:
  • Farming free-range chickens for eggs
  • Free range livestock 
  • Keeping bees for honey-making
  • Using cow or goat milk for making cheese
  • Growing niche fruits or vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes
  • Making organic wine or cider
The Lifestyle Block website contains a wide range of information that is useful for New Zealand lifestyle block owners.

Is there any Government financial assistance for first home buyers?

The New Zealand Government provides three different avenues for assistance when buying your first home.

KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy
If you've been contributing to KiwiSaver for at least 3 years, you may be eligible for a first home deposit subsidy. The subsidy is worth $1,000 for each full year you've been contributing to KiwiSaver, up to a maximum of $5,000 for five years. If you and your partner are both eligible, you can receive a subsidy of up to $10,000.

To qualify, you must have contributed at least the minimum amounts below:
  • 4% of your total income for the period 1 July 2007 to 31 March 2009 to a KiwiSaver scheme, or a complying superannuation scheme, for at least three years
  • 2% of your total income for the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2013 to a KiwiSaver scheme, or a complying superannuation scheme, for at least three years
  • 3% of your total income for the period 1 April 2013 onwards to a KiwiSaver scheme, or a complying superannuation scheme, for at least three years
You must also be buying your first home and be planning to live in the house yourself for at least six months. Guidelines will also apply based on your income and the price of the house you are purchasing. See the KiwiSaver website for more details.
 
Housing New Zealand First/Home Grant
This initiative provides grants (10% of the purchase price, up to $20,000) to purchasers of select properties that Housing New Zealand is selling.

To qualify you must:
  • Be purchasing your first home
  • Plan to live in the house for at least three years
  • Have a gross annual income before tax of $53,000 or less (for an individual) or a combined gross annual income before tax of $80,600 or less (for a couple)
  • Be pre-approved by a certified bank or lending institution (i.e. to show you can service the mortgage)
See the Housing New Zealand website for more details.
 
Housing New Zealand Welcome Home Loan
If you have a combined household income before tax for the last year of $80,000 or less (for an individual) or up to $120,000 combined (for two or more borrowers) you may be eligible for a Welcome Home Loan through select lenders. This means that you will only be required to provide a deposit of 10% (rather than the typical 20%) with Housing New Zealand underwriting the loan for the lender.

There are limits to the size of the loan depending on the region you are buying. See the Housing New Zealand website for more details. 
 

What costs should I expect from my commercial property investment?

The costs associated with buying commercial property in New Zealand are relatively low due to the absence of stamp duty. There are some costs to be considered in addition to the purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs, such as:
  • Loan application fee
  • Conveyancing costs and other legal fees
  • Building inspection costs
  • Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report
  • Registered valuation report
  • Council rates
  • Property management fees
  • Real estate agents’ fees
Your First National Commercial real estate agent can help you calculate these costs.

How do I determine an appropriate, competitive rent for my commercial property?

To maintain good occupancy rates in your commercial property, you must offer rents that are competitive with other similar commercial properties in the area.  If you are managing your own property, you should undertake a comparative market analysis that compares your commercial property with others of a similar size, type and location. Note that getting information about the rents charged by other landlords, or their internal building improvements, may be difficult to obtain.

Engaging an experienced commercial property manager is a great idea.  With their years of experience, they can provide you with a realistic market analysis quickly. They can inspect your property and compare it with similar commercial or industrial properties under their management.  A good commercial property manager will also be able to help you set a rent that will make sure your property is leased at the earliest possible opportunity, whilst also maximising your investment return.

When should I make an offer on a property?

Housing markets can move quickly and a property that is listed could be sold within weeks, days, or even hours.  You should put an offer on a property as soon as you wish to buy it, whether it's for sale by auction, private treaty or tender.

How can I get a mortgage for a Lifestyle Block?

Many New Zealand banks and lending institutions offer mortgages to purchase lifestyle blocks. There are many influencing factors when a bank decides whether or not to advance funds to you, but your ability to keep up payments on the mortgage is probably one of the biggest considerations.  Specialist mortgage brokers operating in rural areas will be able to advise you on how best to negotiate with lenders.

Will moving to a small town or rural area improve my life?

If you’re the sort of person who enjoys change and have handled major life changes well in the past, moving to a small town or rural area could be just the change you need to unlock the full benefits of retired life. You should however note:
  • A move like this won’t guarantee a calmer, happier existence.  Small town living can be just as hectic as a city lifestyle, if you like to keep busy
  • Having a support network in the new location will be an important factor in ensuring a happy move.  It can take some time to build these support networks.  Consider attending local churches or community groups, or joining the RSA or similar service organisations, to help fast track this process
  • You may not like the change to a different geographic area if it means missing friends and family.  You should also consider which services you use in your current city, such as medical services, convenient shopping, restaurants and take away food outlets and other entertainment services.  If similar services are not available in your new location, you may find this frustrating
  • The climate in your new location must be right for you and your wellbeing.  Retirees tend to pick naturally warmer areas of New Zealand, to avoid getting unnecessary colds and flus, whilst reducing home heating costs
Your local First National Real Estate office can provide further helpful information.

How can I make sure tenants don’t do any damage to my investment property?

Make sure that you or your property manager conduct a thorough review of the property before each tenant moves in. Complete a Condition Report outlining any existing damage, marks, or signs of wear and tear on the inside and outside of the property. Complete an Inventory Report detailing all furniture, appliances, cutlery, crockery and other items provided with the property, along with their condition.

The better the Condition & Inventory Reports are prepared, the better the outcome for both parties at the end of the tenancy.  Some landlords take photographs to prove the condition of certain items, and attach these to the Agreement. Both of these reports should be signed by the landlord and the tenant.

Inform your tenants that you will be inspecting the property again at the end of the tenancy. This should encourage them to take care of your property while they are living there. Let them know that if they do happen to damage something, they should contact you.  It's easier to work something out together during the tenancy, rather than sending the tenants a bill once they’ve left. It is usual for landlords to cover minor expenses (such as the odd broken plate) or fair wear and tear themselves. For more significant damage, the occupant will be responsible.

Taking a bond at the beginning of the tenancy offers landlords some protection.

Can the landlord or property manager enter the property while I’m renting it?

New Zealand landlords (or property managers acting on their behalf) have the right to regularly inspect their property, but there are laws governing such visits:
  • A landlord must give between 48 hours and 14 days notice of any inspection
  • Rental inspections cannot be made more than once a month
  • Rental inspections must take place between the hours of 8am and 7pm

How much can I borrow to fund my investment?

Ideally, you should arrange your finances before you start searching for an investment property. This will let you know exactly how much you can spend.  The amount you are able to borrow depends on a number of factors, including: 
  • Your annual after tax income.
  • Your monthly expenses.
  • The type of loan and current interest rates.
  • Repayment type (principal or principal and interest).
  • The loan term (number of years to pay the loan back).
  • Estimated repayments.
Visit the website of any major bank in New Zealand to find a loan calculator you can use. Your lending institution should be able to give you a more detailed outline and / or a pre-approval on your borrowing capacity, which is usually valid for three months. 
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