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Housing: Rent, buy or build?
Renting a house
When you arrive in New Zealand it is a good idea initially to rent a home while you decide where you wish to live.
Since NZ has a high level of home ownership, the stock of rental housing is less extensive than in most other developed countries. Prices and quality vary and it is always advisable to visit a property personally before signing a Tenancy Agreement, also known as a lease. First appearances can be deceptive - make sure you check the basics.
Parts of NZ can be cold and houses that do not get a lot of direct sun may have problems with dampness during the winter months. Factors such as proximity to transport, shops and schools as well as the general feel of the neighbourhood also need to be taken into account.
Most rental properties are unfurnished, apart from a fuctional kitchen with hob or stove, and will have curtains and carpet. The landlord does not have to provide a heater so in some cases you may have to provide your own.
Demand for good quality rentals is high. It may take some time to find a suitable property and, when you do you will usually have to make a quick decision.
Newspapers have "to let" columns, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays, a good place to start and many real estate agents also have a
Rental prices vary by region, town and suburb; on average a 3 bedroom home in Auckland will cost between $400 and $550 per week, in Wellington around $380/week, in Christchurch $320/week and in the rest of NZ between $250 and $300 per week.
If you arrive in New Zealand outside the holiday season, you may find holiday homes available for rent and most of those are furnished which might be a useful temporary option if your belongings have not arrived yet.
Homeowners who let out their property (landlords) usually ask for references; if possible, bring a reference in English from your landlord in your country of origine.
Most landlords require tenants to pay a bond that is generally equivalent to two or four weeks' rent. The landlord will provide you with a Bond Lodgement Form that both you and the landlord are required to complete and sign. The landlord must deposit the form and your accompanying cheque for the bond with the Tenancy Services Centre within 23 working days of receiving it. A receipt will be sent to both you and your landlord. The bond will be refunded to you when you leave the property, unless you have not paid rent or have caused damage. When you move out, the landlord will inspect the property to make sure you have not caused damages. To recover your bond, complete a Bond Refund Form, signed by you and the landlord and send it to the Tenancy Services Centre. If you cannot reach agreement with the landlord over the return of your bond, contact Tenancy Services.
Buying a house
New Zealanders are renowned for being passionate about their homes. The level of individual home ownership is amongst the highest in the world.
Housing stocks are extensive and provide an unusual range of opportunity for those seeking to match their home to a particular lifestyle.
Rural 'lifestyle blocks' comprising custom built homes with several acres of farmland are particularly popular. Most offer easy access to the main urban centres.
City housing ranges from restored villas, dating from the early 1900's to modern suburban homes with large gardens or 'sections' as they are termed in NZ. Inner city apartments, featuring the latest in metropolitan living, have also become a feature of the major cities.
Most urban homes are stand-alone and built of wood. Although many are insulated, most do not have central heating or double-glazed windows. Most have open fires, wood burners, gas or electrical heating.
Prices of homes in New Zealand vary considerably. A lot depends on the location - homes in Auckland for example are generally more expensive than homes in Wellington.
House prices in smaller cities and towns tend to be less expensive. Costs also vary with neighbourhoods and it is important to find out as much as possible about an area before purchasing.
You have found a home that you are keen to buy and want to take it to the next stage. A professional property inspection is recommended next.
Please find detailed information and links on property inspection at this this PAGE
Finding a home
Take time to look around and become familiar with the market. As a new migrant, you may wish to purchase a home immediately because you feel this will help you and your family feel more settled. Although this is understandable, do not let the urge to settle or any sales pressure unduly hasten your decision.
Buying a home is an important decision and should not be taken hastily.
Special property features are run in the Wednesday and Saturday editions of most major newspapers. Real estate companies offer free illustrated property listings and the Real Estate Institute provides nation wide listings at: www.realestate.co.nz
For non-residents, restrictions apply when buying real estate in New Zealand, please find detailed information at this this PAGE
Building a house
If you plan to buy land or a building site, you can find more useful information here
More information on building a house or having a house build for you can be found at Architecture-NZ
Housing related websites
- Building Industry Authority
- Housing New Zealand Corporation
- Human Rights Commission
- Land-online survey and title office
- Ministry of Housing and Tenancy Services
- Real Estate Institute of New Zeeland - Nation wide property listings
- Private sales
- Open2View - national directory of property listings
Real Estate companies
- Barfoot & Thompson
- Bayleys (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- Bayleys Easy Renting (properties for rent)
- Harcourts (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- Harcourts Cooper & Co (rental property management)
- Harveys (housing, offices, etc. inAuckland area)
- Hillsborough (Retirement Villages)
- Home Buyers (private real estate sales)
- Home Mortgage Specialists Ltd (mortgage brokers)
- Houses for Sale in NZ (general site with many links)
- Impact Real Estate (Devonport & North Shore Auckland)
- John Curtis Realty (Hibiscus Coast, Orewa, Whangaparaoa, etc.)
- L.J. Hooker (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- Listings Ltd (online real estate listings NZ wide)
- Lochores Real Estate (North Shore Auckland)
- Maxum's Real Estate links (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- Mike Pero Mortgages (mortgage brokers)
- Milford Real Estate (Auckland North Shore)
- New Zealand Real Estate for Sale (Coromandel Peninsula)
- NZ Institute of Building
- Pinkney Real Estate (Auckland North Shore)
- Premium Real Estate (Auckland North Shore)
- Private Property Pool (private real estate sales)
- Propertypage (NZ and Australia multi-agency listings)
- Propertyseek (Christchurch and SouthIsland listings)
- Propertystuff (NZ wide listings)
- Propertyweb (private real estate sales NZ wide)
- Ray White (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- realENZ (housing, offices, etc. NZ wide)
- Replica Homes (architects, developers)
- Sawyer Real Estate (Devonport, North Shore Auckland)
- Terrace Downs Golf Resort (Rakaia, South Island)
- The Professionals (Auckland city and surrounding areas)
- Vendorsale (private real estate sales)
- Waterfront New Zealand (waterfront properties)
- Architects Education and Registration Board
- Building Research Association of NZ Inc.
- NZ Institute of Building Surveyors
- NZ Registered Master Builders Federation
- Tenants Protection Association
- NZ Institute of Architects
- NZ Property Institute