Keep calm and get settled into your first home

Buying your first home is confusing and stressful. Settled.govt.nz is a step-by-step guide to help you understand how it all works and what comes next in the process. From getting a mortgage to making an offer, the more you understand about the property transaction early on, the less overwhelming it will be. Let’s get you settled.

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    Think about your finances

    Saving towards a deposit and sorting out your mortgage are important first steps on your property journey. Things can move quickly when buying a house, so it’s a good idea to have a pre-approved home loan before you start looking. Knowing how much you can borrow will help you search for properties in your price range. Try our mortgage calculator to see what you could afford.

    Saving towards a deposit and sorting out your mortgage are important first steps on your property journey. Things can move quickly when buying a house, so it’s a good idea to have a pre-approved home loan before you start looking. Knowing how much you can borrow will help you search for properties in your price range. Try our mortgage calculator to see what you could afford.

    What you need to sort

    Find out what government support you might be eligible for, like the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant or the Welcome Home Loan. Many first home buyers can withdraw their KiwiSaver funds towards their deposit.

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    Think about your goals

    Buying a home is exciting, especially if it’s your first. Before you get started, take some time to think about your goals and how owning a home fits in with your future plans. If you’re buying with others, talk to your partner or family to ensure everyone is on the same page.

    Buying a home is exciting, especially if it’s your first. Before you get started, take some time to think about your goals and how owning a home fits in with your future plans. If you’re buying with others, talk to your partner or family to ensure everyone is on the same page.

    What you need to sort

    Ask yourself why you are buying. Do you want to buy or build a first home, buy a bigger home or invest in a rental property? Think about your long-term goals.

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    Build your support team

    Buying a property is expensive, and it can cost even more if something goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to have a team of professionals to support you. Before you start looking at homes, find a lawyer or conveyancer. Your support crew might also include a building inspector, a bank or mortgage broker and an insurer.

    Buying a property is expensive, and it can cost even more if something goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to have a team of professionals to support you. Before you start looking at homes, find a lawyer or conveyancer. Your support crew might also include a building inspector, a bank or mortgage broker and an insurer.

    What to watch out for

    The real estate agent will answer your questions, but remember they work for the seller, not for you. For advice and guidance, always talk to your lawyer or conveyancer.

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    Understand what you’re looking for

    Not every home is created equal, and real estate jargon can be confusing. We have information to help you weigh up the pros and cons of an apartment versus a stand-alone house and learn the difference between a leasehold home and a unit title property. The more you know, the less stressful the process will be.

    Not every home is created equal, and real estate jargon can be confusing. We have information to help you weigh up the pros and cons of an apartment versus a stand-alone house and learn the difference between a leasehold home and a unit title property. The more you know, the less stressful the process will be.

    What you need to sort

    Learn the lingo. Understanding the language and knowing what questions to ask will help you reduce the risks involved with buying.

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    Know how to prepare for an open home

    Open homes can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time buying a home. It can be easy to get distracted by daydreams about what it would be like to live there instead of checking the important things. Knowing what to look out for can help you make decisions with confidence. If you like what you see, you can start researching the property in more detail.

    Open homes can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time buying a home. It can be easy to get distracted by daydreams about what it would be like to live there instead of checking the important things. Knowing what to look out for can help you make decisions with confidence. If you like what you see, you can start researching the property in more detail.

    What you need to sort

    Prepare a list of your wants and needs. You might need three bedrooms for your family and you might want a sea view. Be realistic and know what you are willing to compromise on.

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    Learning about the property

    This is probably the most important step. Before you make an offer, you should understand all aspects of the property – including any issues. We have helpful information about leaky homes, problem building materials, natural hazards, methamphetamine and more.

    This is probably the most important step. Before you make an offer, you should understand all aspects of the property – including any issues. We have helpful information about leaky homes, problem building materials, natural hazards, methamphetamine and more.

    What you need to sort

    We recommend you hire an accredited property inspector to produce a property inspection report. This will highlight any issues with the home.

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    Understanding official documents

    When you’ve found the home you want to buy, it’s important to read the official documents before you sign on the dotted line. This might include the LIM, property inspection report, record of title, body corporate documents (for a unit title property) and of course the sale and purchase agreement.

    When you’ve found the home you want to buy, it’s important to read the official documents before you sign on the dotted line. This might include the LIM, property inspection report, record of title, body corporate documents (for a unit title property) and of course the sale and purchase agreement.

    What you need to sort

    Your lawyer or conveyancer is there to provide advice. Ask them to talk you through any documents you don’t fully understand.

  • Finance

    Confirming your finances

    If you’re taking out a mortgage to pay for your home, you’ll need to confirm your loan before your offer goes unconditional. You may be eligible for government help with a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal or Welcome Home Loan. Be sure to get these applications underway as they take time.

    If you’re taking out a mortgage to pay for your home, you’ll need to confirm your loan before your offer goes unconditional. You may be eligible for government help with a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal or Welcome Home Loan. Be sure to get these applications underway as they take time.

    What you need to sort

    Your bank or lender is likely to need proof that you have arranged property insurance before settlement.

    More information

    Confirming your finances

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    Understanding methods of sale

    Before you can make an offer, you’ll need to know the method of sale being used for that home. Most property sales in New Zealand are by advertised price, deadline sale or negotiation but homes can also be sold by other methods such as auction or tender.

    Before you can make an offer, you’ll need to know the method of sale being used for that home. Most property sales in New Zealand are by advertised price, deadline sale or negotiation but homes can also be sold by other methods such as auction or tender.

    What you need to sort

    Depending on the method of sale, there are different things you need to do to prepare.

  • Document muliti offer

    Understanding the multi-offer process

    A multi-offer process happens when more than one buyer makes an offer on a property. It’s important to put your best foot forward in this situation, as you might not get a chance to increase your offer. The seller can choose the offer that suits them best, and this might not necessarily be the one with the highest price.

    A multi-offer process happens when more than one buyer makes an offer on a property. It’s important to put your best foot forward in this situation, as you might not get a chance to increase your offer. The seller can choose the offer that suits them best, and this might not necessarily be the one with the highest price.

    What to watch out for

    There must be more than one offer in writing. An agent can’t say you are in a multi-offer process if there are no other offers in writing.

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    Understanding the sale and purchase agreement

    A sale and purchase agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the seller. You should fully understand all aspects of the agreement before you sign, so it’s important to get advice from your lawyer or conveyancer at this point.

    A sale and purchase agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the seller. You should fully understand all aspects of the agreement before you sign, so it’s important to get advice from your lawyer or conveyancer at this point.

    What to watch out for

    With some methods of sale, you can make a conditional offer, such as the offer being subject to a building report or finance. Ask your lawyer for advice.

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    Prepare for settlement day

    Many things need to happen in sequence between your lawyer, the seller’s lawyer and the banks before the property becomes yours. Settlement is managed by your lawyer or conveyancer, and there isn’t anything for you to do if all documents have been signed a few days earlier.

    Many things need to happen in sequence between your lawyer, the seller’s lawyer and the banks before the property becomes yours. Settlement is managed by your lawyer or conveyancer, and there isn’t anything for you to do if all documents have been signed a few days earlier.

    What to watch out for

    Processing everything on settlement day can take time, and you may not get the keys until late in the day. It’s a good idea to plan to move in the day after settlement day.

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    Getting help if things go wrong

    Sometimes, things go wrong when buying property. There are steps you can take and organisations that can help you, like the Real Estate Authority (REA) – the independent government agency that regulates the New Zealand real estate industry.

    Sometimes, things go wrong when buying property. There are steps you can take and organisations that can help you, like the Real Estate Authority (REA) – the independent government agency that regulates the New Zealand real estate industry.

    What you need to sort

    If you have a problem with a real estate agent that you can’t resolve directly with them, you can bring your complaint to REA.

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