Back to the blog index

Buying property during COVID-19 alert level 2

Buyers  |  25 May 2020  | By the team at settled.govt.nz

openhome art NB

This page explains some of your options if you're buying or thinking about buying property during COVID-19 alert level 2.

Alert level 2 is getting closer to business as usual, but there are still important considerations around hygiene, physical distancing between people and being able to trace anyone you have been in contact with.

For general information about the current COVID-19 situation, please visit covid19.govt.nz.

Click here for information about selling property at alert level 2.

Summary of activity at alert level 2
  • You can attend open homes, private viewings and auctions at alert level 2 if requirements for gatherings, hygiene, physical distancing and contact tracing are followed.
  • You can travel between regions to attend open homes and auctions but consider using phone and video where possible.
  • Property inspectors, valuers, engineers and tradespeople can visit properties at any time during alert level 2, with the consent of the property occupants.
  • Buyers and sellers who deferred settlement during alert levels 4 and 3 may now settle if both parties agree.
  • During alert level 2, buyers and sellers can move house (including between regions).
  • If you're buying a tenanted property, you may be affected by the new protections against terminations during this time. For more information, visit the Tenancy Services website.
  • Some law firms and agents are still working remotely, and this may cause delays.
  • You can find information about staying safe and well at alert level 2 on the COVID-19 website.

Health guidelines

You must follow these alert level 2 health guidelines, which are referred to throughout this page.

  • Keep at least 2 metres away from anyone you don't know, both inside and outside.
  • Don't visit a property if the occupants are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • Don't visit a property if you or anyone you have been in contact with are unwell, are self-isolating or have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
  • Limit the number of people visiting a property to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Give the full contact details of everyone who is visiting a property to the agent in case these are needed for contact tracing.
  • Sanitise your hands before entering and after leaving a property.
  • If you are an at-risk person (for example, you are over 70 or have a pre-existing medical condition), you are encouraged to do as much as you can by phone or video call rather than in person.

Visiting a real estate office

At alert level 2, real estate offices can open, and you can visit to talk to agents or sign contracts. You will need to follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. You will be asked to provide your contact details for contact tracing.

Open homes and private viewings

Open homes and private viewings are allowed at alert level 2, and you can travel between regions to attend them. Make sure you follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette. No group attending an open home can have more than 10 people.

If you attend an open home, the agent will make sure there are measures in place to allow for physical distancing considering the layout and size of a property, for example, staggering entry to the property and managing queues. There can be no more than 10 people, including the agent, inside the home at any one time.

You will need to supply the full contact details of all the people in your group for contact tracing purposes.

The estimated sale price of the property

If the property was listed during the COVID-19 lockdown, the agent might not have been able to appraise the property in person. The agent should let you know this. Be aware that the estimated sale price might change when the agent has visited in person.

Auctions

At alert level 2, auctions can take place. Make sure you follow the health guidelines above, including maintaining 2-metre physical distancing and hygiene etiquette.

Up to 100 people may attend an auction depending on the space available. Because of the limit on numbers, the agent might ask you to reduce the number of support people you bring with you to the auction. No group attending an auction can have more than 10 people. All attendees need to supply their full contact details in case contact tracing is required.

Talk to the agent if you wish to place phone bids rather than attend. Bidding by phone is a good idea for at-risk people (those at higher risk from COVID-19).

You can read more about the auction process here.

Learn more about making an offer for different methods of sale here.

Making an offer

Inspecting the property

You may want to have the property inspected by a professional (for example, a valuer or property inspector) before you put in an offer to buy the property. At alert level 2, professionals can visit a property if the seller and property occupants agree. Contact the agent to arrange a time for your professional to visit.

Making the offer and signing the agreement

When you're ready to make an offer, the agent will work with you to put the terms and conditions you would like into your offer (the sale and purchase agreement). At alert level 2, the agent may suggest explaining the sale and purchase agreement by phone or video call rather than in person.

We recommend your lawyer or conveyancer checks the agreement before you sign it to make sure it includes all the protection you need. Your lawyer or conveyancer might also suggest including conditions in your offer to protect you against changes in COVID-19 alert levels.

You can then meet the agent in person to sign the sale and purchase agreement, as long as you maintain a physical distance of 2 metres. We suggest you take your own pen.

Meeting conditions

If you're making an offer that is conditional on a professional inspecting the property, keep in mind that these professionals had restrictions on visiting properties at alert levels 3 and 4. There could be high demand for their services and making an appointment may be difficult. Before you make an offer, check with your professional about any delays in their service so you can give yourself enough time to meet your conditions.

Read more about making an offer, sale and purchase agreements and conditions here.

Pre-settlement inspections and settlement

At alert level 2, you are able to do a pre-settlement inspection and travel between regions to visit the property. Make sure you follow the health guidelines above.

If settlements were postponed until alert level 2, those settlements can now take place. There may be a lot of people moving house, so allow more time to find a moving company to help with the settlement process.

On settlement day, the agent should arrange for you to receive sanitised keys and garage door remotes by contactless delivery.

Read more about pre-settlement inspections here.

Read more about what you can expect on settlement day here.

Tenanted properties

If the property you are buying is tenanted, the sale may be affected by the new protections against terminations which are explained on the Tenancy Services website.

The buying process

The general buying process hasn't changed at alert level 2.

Learn more about the buying process here or look at our buyer journey guide.

Learn about your different property options here.

Find out about different types of property ownership here.

Learn about the different information you should gather when researching a property here.

If you have a problem or concerns

If you are concerned that a real estate agent isn’t observing the COVID-19 health requirements, you can report it on the covid19 website.

If you have a problem with a real estate agent that you can’t resolve directly with them, you can bring your complaint to us at the Real Estate Authority (REA). Our REA website provides information about the options available to you.

How useful is this page? Please comment and let us know if there's something you would like to know.