As a result, it isn’t mandatory to use a lawyer to do your conveyance, although given the thousand-and-one other things to be done when buying a house it’s unlikely you would want to do it yourself. Conveyance by a lawyer, who’s the only professional permitted to charge for conveyance, normally costs between $600 and $2,000. The fee may include the land transfer registration fee of $128. There’s no fixed scale of conveyance charges, as this was abolished in 1984, so it’s worth shopping around and haggling over the cost. It’s possible to find a lawyer who will do the job for as little as $400.
Once you’ve instructed your solicitor to act on your behalf in a property purchase, his main task will be to conduct a title search, i.e. to establish that the person selling the property is in fact entitled to sell it. This is usually carried out swiftly ( Land Information New Zealand is efficient) and it’s rare to discover hidden horrors in New Zealand, such as dozens of relatives laying claim to a property.
One peculiarly local concept in property purchase is cross leasing (also known as X-leasing). This usually applies in a situation where the previous owner of a section has leased part of it for the construction of another home, e.g. the one you’re planning to buy. In this case your ownership of the land is leasehold rather than freehold, usually for the balance of a period such as 100 years, at a nominal rent. To all intents and purposes your title to an X-leased section is as secure as freehold. Your lawyer will explain if there are any particular conditions of which you need to be aware.
You should also ask your lawyer to obtain a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) report from the local council, which describes the title of the land, outlines the official boundaries and buildings, the changes allowed to buildings, and flood risks. This useful document (particularly for future reference) can cost anything from $2 to $1,500 depending on the property and the details included, therefore you should check the cost in advance. Application for a LIM must be made in writing to the local council and is usually issued within ten working days.