What is a Tenancy Bond? When you move into a rental property, most landlords will ask for an amount equivalent to a few weeks of rent (usuall...
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How do we choose the right real estate agent?

What else should I think about when choosing where to live?

Your choice of where to live is important.  Make sure that you consider local crime rates, and your closeness to public transport, shopping centres, schools and other relevant amenities.  Websites like Quotable Value provide free local statistical information, including breakdowns of the household age groups living in your area.
Where you live can also impact others, so consider the living locations of your friends, families, and colleagues too.

It's important that you calculate the overall affordability of the property for your budget. Affordability is the rent or mortgage payments, along with food, petrol (commuting costs), power, water, rates, and local restaurant prices.  As the prices of these items and services vary from place it place, it's helpful to do some research.

Does divorce resolve property matters?

No it doesn't. A divorce is simply the legal process used to dissolve a marriage. The divorce itself does not address any family or custody issues, or consider how family assets (including property) should be split.
Many partners work out property and custody agreements between themselves, without legal conveyancing. This approach can save time and legal costs, and avoid lengthy court disputes which may be harmful for children.  Where agreements cannot be satisfactorily made, lawyers may be engaged.
Legal cases are normally heard by the Family Court.

What are the key pieces of information I need when buying a first home?

There's a lot of information required when buying a first home, but luckily this information is available from a number of sources.  These sources include banks, insurance companies, real estate companies and financial advisors.

Regardless of whether you are buying a priced property, or a property being sold via auction or tender, it's important to know the following:
  • How much you can afford to borrow to buy your home
  • How large a home deposit you will need (see Question 1)
  • What other costs you will incur during the purchase of the property
  • How to go about making an offer on the property and some knowledge around the possible terms and conditions that can be included within the Sales and Purchase Agreement to give you adequate buying protection
Talk to a friendly First National Real Estate agent for further advice.

Is a commercial property investment more difficult to manage than a residential one?

The key to successful commercial property investment is to find good commercial tenants who can provide you with a reliable, steady source of income.  Businesses that are run well, with governance and good financial management, are more likely to be stable and rent your premises for longer periods.  Good commercial tenants move less often than residential tenants, as their livelihood is tied to the location.

Investing in commercial property doesn’t have to be more time-consuming than investing in residential property. A good commercial real estate agent or property manager, like the commercial property team at your local First National Real Estate office, can take care of most of the day-to-day issues experienced by commercial tenants, and help you grow your commercial investment.

I’m new to commercial property investing. What do I need to know?

As with any property purchase, you’ll need to do your research before buying a commercial retail, office or industrial property.  Unlike residential property, a commercial property is often one that you will not personally occupy. You should consider the property you want to invest in from the viewpoint of a potential tenant.

Tenants tend to assess commercial properties on their location, price per square foot to rent, quality of the environment, and any shared amenities such as gymnasiums, food areas, toilets that staff will have access to.  The following points should be considered: 
  • Location - Commercial property near transport hubs or with good access and parking facilities will be in greater demand than less accessible locations.
  • Property Type – What are the area’s typical commercial requirements? Will the building be a suitable shape and size for retail? Restaurants? Office space?
  • Building Quality – How much maintenance is the building going to require? Are there any major structural issues that could be costly in the future?
  • Building Age – Generally, newer buildings require less upkeep and have better options for wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, making them more desirable to tenants. However, older buildings with significant character will always be in demand from certain tenants so should not be disregarded.
  • Health & Safety - Commercial buildings must comply with strict health and safety requirements for their occupants. Make sure any property you consider meets these requirements or be prepared to invest in their upgrade.

How much money can I borrow to buy a house?

It's important to know exactly how much money you can borrow before looking for your first home. This will indicate the prices of the properties you can afford.
  • For your first New Zealand home, you will typically need around 20% of the purchase price as a deposit.
  • A bank or mortgage broker can help you establish a realistic figure that you will be able to borrow based on the amount you have already saved and your expected future income.
  • You can also use an online mortgage calculator to see how different loan lengths and interest rates affect repayment amounts. Most New Zealand banks offer this functionality on their websites.
  • Once you've decided that you're comfortable with borrowing a certain amount, and you've found a lending organisation willing to lend to you, it is sensible to get your loan “pre-approved”. This allows you to make an offer on a house with more certainty that you’ll be able to borrow the funds required.

I’m in a de facto relationship and we’ve separated. Is my property affected?

Under the Relationship Act, if you've been living in a relationship similar to marriage for at least 3 years (e.g. living together in the same property, with joint finances), then your property will normally be treated in the same way as property from an official marriage. 
The relationship period considered may be shorter than 3 years if you have a child together, or if one partner has made significant financial contributions to the relationship (such as buying a house) and would be disadvantaged by an equal split. 

I’m moving from overseas. How do New Zealand’s main cities differ?

New Zealand is a relatively small country, with just over 4 million residents, but it has some of the world's most liveable cities.  Each city is modern, and has its own uniqueness. There's a city in New Zealand just right for you.
  • Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and is home to over 1 million people. As the main commercial centre for New Zealand, it also offers the most diverse employment prospects. Auckland has a rich performance and arts culture, and is home to people from a wide range of ethnic groups.  The high popularity of Auckland living is reflected in the Auckland real estate market.  Prices of houses are generally much higher in Auckland than in other New Zealand cities, especially in the more desirable inner city suburbs.
  • Hamilton is New Zealand’s largest inland city, and is located within 1 ½ hrs drive from Auckland.  It has a population of 150,000 people, making it the fourth largest city in New Zealand.  Hamilton is the main regional hub for the Waikato farming region, and much of the economy is devoted to rural services. The area is known for outstanding farming research, and the University of Waikato and the Waikato Institute of Technology are both based here.  The manufacturing and retail sectors are popular here too, and are growing.  Hamilton does not have all of Auckland's amenities, but it provides a comfortable and less rushed lifestyle which many people are drawn to.
  • Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, and is home to the New Zealand Government (housed primarily in the Beehive building).  Most New Zealand senior public sector jobs can be found in this city.  The city itself is compact, with a large number of inner city apartments available for sale or rent. This makes inner city living more affordable than in main centres like Auckland.  Wellington is known as the "windy city" due to high winds which pass overhead from the Cook Strait.  Summer days can however be delightful here.
  • Christchurch is New Zealand's second largest city. In recent years, the city has had two main earthquakes, causing a lot of household (and business) damage, but the city is now rebuilding.  If you're a tradesperson looking for work, the job opportunities here are plentiful due to the construction boom.  The Canterbury region as a whole has an unemployment rate lower that 3%. 

    Christchurch also has strong agriculture, engineering, and tourism economies.  Students are well catered for at the University of Canterbury, and at Lincoln University.  House prices in Christchurch have been pushed higher lately due to the constrained supply of housing whilst houses are re-built (or brand new housing is built). This situation is expected to be temporary.
  • Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island, and is one of New Zealand's premier "student cities".  Students make up almost 20% of the population, on which both the retail and tertiary education sector heavily depend.  Dunedin is in close travelling proximity to popular ski fields and tourism areas like Queenstown, making it a popular tourist stop.

    The winter season in Dunedin can be cold, and snowfall is common.  Due partially to these low temperatures, and the city's location near the bottom of the South Island, real estate prices are inexpensive when compared to most other New Zealand cities.  The relatively low population growth in this area may dampen possibilities for longer term capital gains on property, but this also helps to keep rental and sale prices competitive and relatively stable.

What should I be asking myself when buying a Lifestyle Block?

Before you buy a rural Lifestyle Block, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is your property within reasonable travelling distance from a town and services?
  • How much time and effort can you devote to learning about your chosen farming or food growing activity?
  • Do you have sufficient disposable income to adequately support the wellbeing of livestock - including any feeding and medical treatment?
  • Are there any other successful lifestyle blocks or hobby farmers nearby who you could learn from and share ideas with?
  • Are your family willing to support your lifestyle block farming activities?  Even a small hobby farm can be hard work and time consuming.
  • What level of income, if any, do you expect from your property?
  • Weather is a factor to consider when farming.  Good farmers prepare for bad weather by storing foodstuffs in summer to use in winter, storing water in winter to be used in summer, and so on.  Are you prepared for a crisis?
  • Do you have the right training and skills in mechanics and farm safety to operate and maintain small farm equipment, or will you need to upskill yourself?  Contact your local farmers co-operative for advice.
  • Is your chosen farm activity well suited to the landscape and capability of the land you’re looking at?
  • Is there enough water available at your prospective lifestyle block to carry out the farm activity you have in mind?  Is the water supply of suitable quality?
  • Are all the public services (electricity, gas, water, sewage, phone, and Internet) you require already provided to the lifestyle block property? If not, how much will it cost you to connect the property up? Or is it an area that will always have limited services?
  • Are there any soil erosion issues on the property?  Can they be fixed?  Soil problems can be expensive to rectify. To protect yourself from this risk, you could ask a soil engineer to carry out soil testing, prior to your purchase.

Will my pet be allowed to move with me?

Pets can be fantastic companions for people in their senior years. Some retirement villages and homes (but not all) will accommodate both you and your pets.

Policies concerning pets will vary across retirement home operators, but the type of pet, its size, and its temperament are likely to be considered.  Villages that have good physical distances between homes are more likely to accept pets than those with housing that is very close to neighbours.

Many villages will let you bring your current pet with you, but when that pet dies will not allow a replacement.  Check the policy wording carefully if you’re a pet lover.
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