Introduction

An introduction to buying property in New Zealand

Buying a house in New Zealand is usually a sound investment and preferable to renting in the long term.

Most New Zealanders prefer to own their homes, and as mortgage interest rates have fallen in recent years the demand for properties has risen and prices have increased steadily. Currently, prices are still rising in some areas, but falling in others, and the steep rises seen in the early years of the 21st century have stopped, at least for the time being.

It’s important to note, however, that most New Zealanders buy a house to provide themselves with a home and not as an investment, and there’s less speculative buying than in some countries (such as the UK and USA). You shouldn’t, therefore, expect to get rich quick when buying a home in New Zealand.

It’s true that in recent years there have been cases of shrewd entrepreneurs making a killing by snapping up derelict ocean-front properties for renovation or buying townhouses in the ‘wrong’ districts of Auckland or Wellington, which then became ‘yuppified’ so that properties rocketed in value. However, these conditions are rare and you can as easily lose money as make it by speculating (particularly in the current uncertain property market).

If you’re a permanent resident of New Zealand, there are no restrictions on the home you can buy in New Zealand. If you aren't a permanent resident you’re sometimes limited by the Overseas Investment Act 1973 (OIC Act) to buying a home on less than five hectares (12.5 acres) of land. If the land is on, or adjacent to, a sensitive area (e.g. an island or reserve), overseas buyers and those with work permits are sometimes limited to buying less than 0.4 hectares (one acre) of land. Buying apartments, houses and land in urban areas generally isn't affected by Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) Act restrictions. Your solicitor will advise you as to whether you need to seek agreement from the OIC (the government body that oversees foreign investment policies) for a particular purchase. If you do, your solicitor will insert a condition in the contract making the purchase conditional on obtaining OIC consent.


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