Buying your first home

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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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