How to buy a house in New Zealand

It’s the kiwi dream - to own your slice of paradise - your home or castle. 

Whether you are born and bred here or new to this magnificent country*, we’ve compiled a sweet little overview to make it easy for you to get your head around how buying a home in New Zealand works.

Buying in New Zealand can be a quick process, taking as little as three or four weeks to go from finding a house you want to owning it. Once your offer has been accepted and the contract is signed, any other offers that come in cannot be considered which gives you peace of mind and makes it a lot less stressful than in other parts of the world.

1. What do you want?

Seems obvious! A house right?! But delve into this question. Do you want a family home? If so, how do you and your family like to live? Do you need morning sun to start the day right? Do you need a big garage to store the bikes or lots of trees to hear the birds (and not the traffic). Do you want to be walking distance to bus stops and shops or quietly hidden away? Do you work from home and need office space or separate living areas for different people in your home? Make a list of your priorities and try to figure out what is the most important for you.

2. How much can you spend?

This is where the rubber meets the road! 

Or, “the point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test”.

To be an informed buyer it is prudent to know what your borrowing capacity is. It’s great to have a Wishlist and set your non-negotiables, but there is a point that the reality of what you can spend will dictate how many of those you can tick off! 

There are a number of ways to do this both formally (getting a pre-approval for a set amount) or informally - fill out our calculator HERE.

At the Finance Marshall we are experts at understanding your finances and have relationships with all the leading banks and lenders so a great first step is to get in touch - we can talk on the phone or have a coffee. My expertise is in putting all the facts and figures together and knowing which bank and deal is the best for you and your unique circumstances. 

I realise this is not a very subtle leading point but this is what I do! My clients love me for allowing them to put their best foot forward so when that perfect (or even just great-for-right-now) house comes along you can go in and seal the deal with confidence.

3. Where do I find that perfect (or great-for-right-now) house?

TradeMe, Real Estate .co.nz, and real estate agents and firms put their main listings on their websites. Agencies also advertise in local papers and in-house magazines. It can really pay to contact local agents with what you are looking for as sometimes they will have homes that are not yet on the books. And if they know you have pre-approval (or are a cash buyer) it makes you a valuable contact and the first one they will call when they get a new listing!

My tip is to be flexible with locations and house features. Look at a couple of homes in areas that aren’t necessarily in your dream location - Auckland is a funny spread-out city and there are always great little hidden streets in less desirable suburbs and ways you can be flexible with the layout that you don’t necessarily see when just viewing online or judging by it’s suburb or number of bedrooms.

It's also a good way to benchmark what's out there and find out your true non-negotiables.

4. Researching the property

Here’s where you need to do your HOMEwork (see what I did there?!). 

We have a great checklist you can download which helps to highlight all the myriad of things to look for. Click HERE to access that. There is not much that is ‘un-fixable’. For a price. So it pays to know what those things could be and understand the costs of getting those things sorted if necessary. 

There is a new website called settled.govt.nz with great help on the subject which covers things like leaky buildings, problem building materials to watch out for, and methamphetamine exposure which are all unfortunately not uncommon issues in Auckland housing. And if you want the specifics on your dream home, go to www.propertyfiles.co.nz and login to access all relevant documents on record for that particular address. If you have specific concerns I know great people you can trust for advice on any of these things and more so feel free to reach out to me if you want some help!

5. Buying

There are a few ways a house may be offered - 

  • Asking price
  • Auction
  • Tender
  • By negotiation
  • Deadline and/or multi-offer process. 

Usually the highest price ‘wins’ but not always. If you can move in quickly or alternatively offer a longer settlement this can work in your favour. Here’s where you want your lawyer to be by your side. Again, I have great people I can recommend or…

*An upcoming change...

Upcoming changes to the Overseas Investment Act (2005) mean that overseas nationals will generally be unable to buy existing homes or residential land within New Zealand. Under the new legislation, someone who holds a resident visa, and has been living here for at least a year - including at least 183 days in the past year - will still be able to purchase a home. The changes to the legislation are expected to be finalised and implemented in late 2018.

6. Moving in and ongoing costs

Your deposit is the obvious main expense but you can expect to pay for these things as well:

  • Moving services or truck hire
  • Phone, power and internet connections
  • Renovations or decorating that needs attention straight away
  • Legal expenses and builder’s reports

Ongoing your home, contents and mortgage insurance is something to budget for (and also something I can arrange for you at the best rates and package for you and your specific requirements), rates and body corporate fees (where applicable).


There's a lot to cover, so it's great that you are doing your research and finding the best way for you to move forward. We love to help and have happy clients so do get in touch and we will help walk you through this exciting journey to get that dream result at the other side!

We're always happy to hear from you!

Whether you are in New Zealand or overseas we are available 24/7

Send us an email:

Phone us: 
Freephone: +0508 THE MARSHALL (0508 843 627)
Mobile: +64 27 225 0500
Phone: +64 9 620 0162


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