Is there any Government financial assistance for first ho... Is there any Government financial assistance for first home buyers?
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How do we choose the right real estate agent?

I’m interested in investing in commercial property. What are some of the benefits?

Commercial real estate can provide you with a solid return on investment (ROI), through steadily increasing rental returns, and improvements in the building's sale price over time.  The main benefits of investing in commercial property are:
  • Commercial property is usually a solid, long-term investment, as long as it is in locations or areas where businesses choose to locate.
 
  • Commercial property and commercial lease real estate market information is easily accessible, and it's easy to calculate market pricing and returns based on lease rates (which are typically worked out on a per square foot basis).
     
  • Commercial property often offers higher yields than residential property, with average yields ranging from 5-10%.  These yields depend on the type of business tenant and the terms of the tenancy.
     
  • Business owners can often take advantage of buying the commercial premises they need to occupy, leasing the spare capacity to cover costs.

We want to own our own home. Where do we start?

The first major hurdle on the path to home ownership is working out how big a deposit you’ll need and then saving for it.  New Zealand banking regulations specify maximum percentage amounts that lenders can advance to home buyers, to reduce the risk of financial hardships and defaults if property prices fall.  Any difference between the property purchase price and the advance will be the deposit needed.

Whilst these percentages move around at times, you should aim to have a 15% to 20% minimum deposit to buy your own home. When buying a home for the first time, follow the helpful advice below:
  • Calculate how much you can realistically afford to borrow, and how any debt servicing requirements / rates will allow you to live reasonably comfortably.
  • Consult a financial advisor, friend, or family member who has bought property before. Seek out as much advice as possible.
  • Don’t financially over-commit when buying your first home. A bank or lending institution may be willing to lend you a larger amount, but you should not necessarily take the offer. Know your budget and stick to it.
  • Ensure that you have financial reserves to cover things like legal costs, moving in (and out costs), unexpected repairs and maintenance etc. 

We’re separating. What will happen to our family home and other assets?

In New Zealand, the Relationship Act covers how the family home and other assets will be divided when people get divorced or end a serious relationship. If your relationship qualifies (see the Ministry of Justice website for details), your family home will likely be treated as “relationship property”.

If you and your partner can’t decide on how to divide your assets, the Family Court will make a ruling. The Family Court will typically rule that all “relationship property” be split equally.  There can be exceptions to this, where an equal split would be unjust or where one of the partners would be seriously disadvantaged.

You should consult a lawyer for more advice about your specific circumstances. 

How do I figure out where to live?

If you're moving cities due to a job or career change, it makes sense to live as close to your place of future employment as possible. To choose the ideal location:
  • Talk with a local employment agency or recruitment company and get some advice on where you’re most likely to find employers suited to your skills.
     
  • If you already know where you’re going to be working, talk to your new employer to find out information about public transport options or convenient road links from the suburbs.  
 
  • Use an online guide, such as the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand website to research statistics, property data and trends in your new area.
     
  • Decide ahead on your budget for renting or purchasing a place to live. Using a salary calculator to work out how much you'll have available to spend each week after tax is deducted can be useful. Once your budget is confirmed, visit http://www.firstnational.co.nz  for comprehensive renting and sale listings.  You can enter your requirements and budget into our search fields, and we'll quickly show you properties for sale or rent that meet your needs.
     
  • Your local First National real estate agent has a wealth of local knowledge, and can help you with relocation advice and services. Contact Us now.

I want a Rural Lifestyle - without too much work or commitment!

If you want more than a holiday home or weekend getaway in the countryside, then a lifestyle block may be an option for you.  You can live on the lifestyle block all year round, or take leave when it suits you, without worrying about major property maintenance. Lifestyle block maintenance can be hard work, but the effort required is much less than that required to run a large-scale farm.

Lifestyle blocks are perfect choices when you want to be close to New Zealand's major cities, but live out of the main city centres.  You can get a lot of land for your money compared to inner city living, giving you great options. For example, you can keep a few farm animals on your lifestyle block, grow some vegetables, undertake crafts like woodturning, and perhaps secure a part time income. 

First National New Zealand agents are lifestyle property specialists, and we'd love to help you find the perfect property. Contact us now, and we’ll talk you through it.

Is a retirement village or retirement home living right for me?

If the day-to-day tasks of property maintenance such as gardening and housework have become too much for you to easily manage, there are a number of options to consider.  These options include home help, hiring a handyman or moving to a smaller, low-maintenance apartment.  Moving to a retirement home or village will also relieve the need for you to maintain the property and gardens yourself.
You may want to consider moving to a retirement village:
  • If you’ve recently lost a partner or companion (although it’s advisable to allow yourself adequate time to adjust before making such an important decision).
  • If you feel the social or religious activities available in a retirement village would appeal to you.
  • If you expect in the near future to require things like level access ways, doorways that can easily fit wheelchairs and other elderly support features
  • If you’d feel more confident knowing emergency assistance is nearby
  • If you'd appreciate being part of a village community and would enjoy the social interaction it offers

I’m looking to buy an investment property. Is a holiday home a good choice?

When choosing between buying a standard residential property or a holiday home, you need to decide whether you're making a strictly financial investment, or a lifestyle choice. Ask yourself the following:
  • Will the investment property (bach) be used as a holiday home for your family with short term rentals, or will it be rented out to others long term?
  • Are you able to cover a large portion of the running costs out of your own funds, if you are unable to get rental income for much of the year?
  • What long or short-term financial goals do you have for the property?
  • Will the investment property offer you any New Zealand tax benefits?
  • Are you confident of your financial position if there is a downturn in the New Zealand holiday rental or sales market?
If you're investing in property for the first time, consider whether you'll require constant rental income to cover mortgage repayments.  If you do, a long-term residential property investment is probably more suitable for you.

What are the Benefits of Downsizing?

  • Financial Benefits – Depending on where your new, smaller property is located, downsizing can dramatically reduce your mortgage costs. Smaller homes also cost less to run, freeing up cash flow.
     
  • Savings – By saving money on mortgage payments and running costs, you can significantly increase your retirement savings, giving you a larger nest egg when the time comes to retire.
     
  • Travel – Downsizing will give you more financial freedom, allowing you to travel more often.  Downsizing will provide you with a modest home base to return to in between trips, with less home maintenance than before.
     
  • Cheaper Utilities – A smaller home will use less electricity, gas, heating and cooling.  This will save you dollars that you can use for fun activities.
 
  • Freedom – By downsizing you’ll give yourself more freedom and flexibility to revisit the activities and hobbies that may have been sacrificed when you were busy looking after a larger house, garden and your children.
 
  • Lower Maintenance Costs – If you’re looking for a really low-maintenance home, an apartment or townhouse could be ideal.
     
  • Peace of Mind - Less clutter and less debt will lead to a clearer state of mind and give you the opportunity to enjoy a simplified home and lifestyle.
Downsizing offers considerable benefits, and should be considered. Your local First National Real Estate agent can provide further downsizing guidance and advice.

What should I look out for when renting a bach or holiday home on the internet?

Prospective holidaymakers should be careful when renting a bach online, as rental listings promoted on the internet can be a popular target for scammers.

Scammers can sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to trick unsuspecting people into giving up personal details or making payments. They may pose as owners or real estate agents and use the actual property address and photographs, often copied from real estate websites, in an effort to convince you they are genuine.

Here are some online renting guidelines to follow to help you avoid being scammed:   
  • Watch out for obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or pixilated photographs – scammers tend to operate from overseas and English may not be their first language.
  • If you don’t live in New Zealand, ask someone you trust to make local enquiries.  There are reputable websites out there.  In general, if a bach renting offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Don’t rely on referrals or recommendations of others, unless you know the source of the referral or recommendation personally.
  • Never pay funds via a bank transfer unless you are sure who the recipient is. Avoid using non-bank payment systems such as Western Union, which scammers are well known to use.  It could be very difficult to ever get your money back from these networks if there are issues.
  • If the owner or agent for the bach lives overseas, this is a warning sign that it could be a scam. Most New Zealand bach owners live in New Zealand.  Ask for local telephone numbers and addresses and have these verified.
  • Search online for reviews of the owner or agent offering the holiday home for rent.  The experiences of others can be very useful indicators.
  • Keep all written correspondence about the holiday home rental, including payment details and a copy of the listing itself.
  • Watch out for holiday homes being advertised at conspicuously cheap rental prices (unless at the last minute). This is a sure sign that the listing is a scam.
  • Never send money in order to be posted keys to a property. You should always be able to pick up the keys personally, or retrieve them from an agent.  Many owners are happy to accept just a deposit up front when you book the accommodation and to receive the remainder when the keys are exchanged.

How do I find and inspect a property to rent?

There are a number of ways to find New Zealand rental properties. Many rental properties are listed on internet websites, including the First National Real Estate website.  If you don't have convenient internet access, you can also visit your local real estate agency branch, and ask to speak to the property rentals team. 
Once you've found a potentially suitable property to rent, you will need to attend a viewing of the property to inspect it.  Viewing times can usually be arranged through your real estate agent or via the landlord directly.  If properties are expected to be popular, a single group viewing time may be advertised by the agent or landlord, which all potential tenants must attend. 

If you don't have convenient internet access, you can also visit your local real estate agency branch and ask to speak to the property rentals team. 

Once you've found a potentially suitable property to rent, you will need to attend a viewing of the property to inspect it.  Viewing times can usually be arranged through your real estate agent or via the landlord directly.  If properties are expected to be popular, a single group viewing time may be advertised by the agent or landlord, which all potential tenants must attend. 
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