The rules for overseas people buying or building residential property in New Zealand have changed. In general, only residents and citizens can buy homes to live in, but other investment opportunities are available. Use this tool to understand who is able to buy and who needs to apply for consent.

About buying a property 

Once you’re ready, you’ll find the buying process is well organised and well regulated to ensure a fair process for both sides. 

In New Zealand, it can take as little as three to four weeks to complete a house purchase once you’ve found the place you want. Once a bid is formally accepted, last minute offers can’t be considered, which makes buying here a lot less stressful than it is in some parts of the world.

If you choose to buy a section (a block of land) there are a number of options for building a home tailor-made for your needs.

New Zealand has a mix of housing types, from standalone buildings on a block of land to attached townhouses and apartments. It also has different types of land ownership. The type of ownership has a direct impact on what you can and cannot do with the property, so it is important to understand what you are buying.

For more information about either buying or building a home in New Zealand check out, an independent and government backed consumer website from the Real Estate Authority (REA).

The purchase process

Most home and land sales are completed using a real estate agent, with a smaller number of sales made privately. In either case, it is wise to get independent advice from a lawyer or conveyancer experienced in home buying (‘conveyancing’) before you make an offer.

You can find a lawyer using the website of the New Zealand Law Society or a conveyancer on the website of the New Zealand Society of Conveyancers. 

The Government’s Real Estate Authority has a consumer website which explains the New Zealand property buying and selling process, including what to expect from a real estate agent.

Cost of housing

Negotiating the price is common when purchasing property.

Property advertisements usually show either an RV (rateable value), GV (government valuation) or CV (council valuation) figure. These figures refer to the valuation used by the local council to calculate rates (council tax) for the property. They aren’t registered valuations and they often don’t reflect the property’s true market value.

You can find an overview of values based on actual sales on the website of ‘Quotable Value’. It has district-by-district profiles covering general sales information, population and local weather. You can also buy more detailed reports about previous sales in the area or even for a specific address.

You can ask a registered valuer to provide you with an independent valuation. You have to pay for this, but it will be more accurate because it will consider (among other things) sales in the area, the type of property, its features and what the house is made of.

Finding a property

A good place to start looking for properties is online at TradeMe Property or or other property websites. They have listings from real estate agents as well as private vendors. Remember however some properties are only listed on the agents’ own websites or brochures available in the local area.


If you’re buying or building a home you’ll need to include rates in your budgeting.

Rates are a ‘tax’ charged by local councils to help pay for the services they provide the community. Rates vary from place to place, but they’re always based on the value of the property.

Your local council’s website will have more information about the rates you’ll be paying in the area you’re considering. Check the ‘Community services’ on our Regional pages for local council contacts.


Home loans – mortgages – are available from all the major trading banks in New Zealand. You can contact them directly and many banks have a migrant banking service with multilingual staff. You can also work through mortgage brokers who negotiate with the banks on your behalf.

As a new arrival, you won’t have a credit history so make sure you bring some evidence of your credit history in your home country.  Check out the web page of any bank in New Zealand for more about banking and mortgages in New Zealand.

You’ll need a good deposit to get a home loan, as there are currently restrictions on how much of a property’s value banks can lend you. They’re called the loan-to-value ratio requirements (LVR).

They mean that borrowers with less than a 20% deposit (30% for property investors in Auckland) may find it more difficult to get a loan.

The Reserve Bank has a document you can download that outlines the LVR rules.

Restrictions on high-LVR mortgages | Reserve Bank


In New Zealand, home insurance is now usually calculated on a ‘sum insured’ basis. This means that if your home needs to be rebuilt, the insurer will only pay out to the maximum sum that you specify when you take out your policy.

It means that you need to have a good idea of what it would cost to replace your home if the worst should happen.

You may need to get a valuation to decide how much this would be, as a start, most insurance companies websites have links to online calculators.

There’s more information available from the website.

Earthquake damage to homes in New Zealand is covered by our Earthquake Commission (EQC). Its charges will be added automatically to you your home insurance invoice: however, to qualify for EQC earthquake cover you must first have private home or contents insurance.

If you’re buying an apartment insurance for the building will normally be included in the annual body corporate fee. However, make sure you check the details of this before you purchase. You’ll need to provide your own contents insurance.

Read the original article here: Living in NZ

Content originally appeared on The Real Estate Voice

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