This buying a house checklist centralises the most important advice from multiple organisations that all have a role to play in protecting you as a home buyer. Using this comprehensive checklist, before buying a house will prevent problems from appearing AFTER buying your new home or property. Don't become a statistic for the wrong reasons.
Buyer's remorse should not be allowed to blow a hole in your post purchase glow, so make sure you know what you are in for before you make the leap. Being forewarned is being forearmed.
If buying a house, you may need to sell a house first, so use this checklist that steps you through selling a house quickly.
Buying A House Checklist a safety net
- LEGAL ADVICE - Get advice about buying or selling a house from a property lawyer.
- BUILDING INSPECTION - The safest way to get a reliable pre-purchase building inspection is by using an accredited building surveyor with the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand (BOINZ). All inspectors have undertaken the Institute's Accredited Building Surveyors programme ensuring they have passed their accreditation process.
- METH TESTING - Check that the property has not been exposed to methamphetamine production. You can add this as a condition of sale but a report conducted by the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor suggests it is a danger to occupants if used at a high level or is produced at the property. The Real Estate Authority provides advice here which links to the report.
- LEAKY CHECK - Use the HOBANZ (Home Owners and Buyers Association) Guide To Buying a Home including a checklist to help ensure you don't purchase a leaker. See bottom of this PDF for the checklist. HOBANZ also advise on Body Corporates.
- TRADES SERVICES - If needing a tradesman, make sure they are registered with governing bodies overseeing standards, quality and training of their members. You can find advice about how to find a tradesmen here.
- VALUATION - Check you are not paying too much by doing some valuation research. The Property Institute has a database of professional valuers that meet their stringent criteria, making this organisation the most reliable source for finding a registered valuer for buying or selling a house.
- INSURANCE - Check you will be able to get the property insured. Very old electrical wiring pre-1935 may require a warrant of fitness for getting insurance cover.
- QUALITY CHECK - Make sure any building work that has been agreed by the seller to complete prior to settlement is actually done and done to industry standard with a BOINZ accredited building surveyor.
Affording the mortgage when buying a house
Amidst all the excitement of buying a new house, it is easy to get swept up and lose your perspective.
This is particularly likely when there are multiple buyers competing for the same house and you are hurrying to get the deal done quickly.
Can we afford to buy a house?
One of, if not the most important, things to check is affordability.
If you would like help assessing your position, sorted.org has mortgage advice and tips. If you have your eye on a place, but aren't sure whether it's in your ball park or not, you can run some figures through that website's mortgage calculator.
Go visit the bank manager or mortgage broker, and do yourself an honest household budget. Just because they will loan you the money doesn't automatically mean you can afford it for the long haul.
TAX - Check the IRD to see if you need to pay tax. There will be varying advice depending on whether the house you are buying is a rental investment, a holiday home or for your self to live in.
LIFE & LOSS OF INCOME INSURANCE - It is likely you are going to need other insurance as well, for instance, loss of income, life, contents or otherwise. Insurance can help you cover any mortgage payments if you are unable to work.
There are eight categories of insurance you can get quotes for and compare with My Insurance Guide which is free.
Help for first home buyers
Buying Your First Home
The NZ Government helps you to buy your first home starting with your Kiwi Saver First Home Withdrawal, A Kiwi Saver HomeStart Grant, a Welcome Home Loan and help to buy a house owned by Housing NZ. If you're Maori, you can apply for money to buy, build or relocate a home onto ancestral land.
Buying a KiwiBuild Home
For many first home buyers, the goal post has shifted in recent years and there is a lot of concern about whether people can even get onto the property ladder. But with the recent Government announcement of Buying a KiwiBuild home, you might want to register your interest.
Kiwi Saver Contributions and the KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant
If you buy an existing home, you can get $1000 for each year you’ve paid into the scheme up to $5000 for five years.
However, if you buy a new home or land, you can get $2000 for each year you've paid into the scheme or up to $10,000 for five years.
For more information about getting into your first home this way, visit the New Zealand Government website.
Don't skip due diligence checks
When the market is hot and houses sell fast, some buyers can fail to do their due diligence checks when buying a house.
When the market is 'flatter', there may be fewer houses to choose from. Due diligence is always worth doing.
The real estate agent selling the house should be advising you as a buyer, to do your due diligence, seek an independent building inspection by a BOINZ member and to get a lawyer.
Defects Disclosure and conflict of interest checks
Before buying a house, the real estate agent selling the property is obliged under the Real Estate Act 2008 to disclose to you any information they have been advised of or made aware of by other means if it may affect your decision to purchase.
That includes establishing if the real estate agent has a conflict of interest in the property. If you are in doubt, ask the agent outright if they know the buyer personally in any way and tell your lawyer.
If a company name is the purchaser on your sale and purchase agreement, you can check to see who the directors and shareholders are.
For a greater level of protection and advice, the Real Estate Authority has guides, resources and downloads - all free for consumers.
Additional Checklist for Buying A House
If you're serious about buying a property, Consumer NZ provides a comprehensive property inspection checklist that you can download.
Consumer NZ also recommends paying attention to:
- protection orders on trees and buildings
- zoning restrictions
- property title caveats
- sewer or septic tank?
- talking to neighbours about any plans that may affect you
- is the property likely to flood in heavy rain?
See examples of legal documents required for a property sale. Your lawyer should address these with you but it pays to check.
Get yourself sorted when buying - disasters do occur. Ask for help.