Discovering and buying a property can be both an exciting time – and a stressful time. We hope this guide helps maximise the excitement and minimise the stress.
Lists are good: Checking out a property
List 1: What we want in our new home
Go for gold. Write everything you think you may want. Jot away over several days, or weeks. When you think you’ve got a pretty complete list, sit down and cross out everything you can’t possibly afford. A depressing but necessary step, if you want to make good progress towards the end game.
List 2: Must haves
Take List 1 and split it into two columns:
• Must haves
• Nice to haves
Now a clearer picture will be forming. But remember, the list is just a list. You can ignore it, add to it, delete points from it, or rip it up… But the process does hone your house-buying radar and narrow down the field – and that’s a good thing (unless you do want to buy several houses).
List 3: The open home circuit
Some people (usually blokes) prefer the newspaper-based model, where you circle a couple of houses in the paper, pop out to the car soon after the first open home kicked off and head vaguely in the direction of that suburb. The theory is that if you miss the first open home, there are plenty more to get to.
Others (you know who you are) prefer the spreadsheet and clipboard approach. The list of open homes to view – times (in chronological order) and addresses – are typed up on a covering page, to ensure maximum efficiency over the course of the afternoon. Each property is then assigned its own, more detailed matrix: asking price, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, house square metres, section square metres, exterior cladding, construction date… you get the idea.
List 4: Questions for the property consultant
If you’re serious about a property, you will eventually get down to the nitty gritty questions. The property consultant’s job is to sell the property for the vendor. If you’ve got questions, just ask. The property consultant may well have been asked already and has the answer on hand. If not, they can find out and let you know. Don’t be shy to ask.
At some point, you’ll be done with lists and the time is right to make an offer.
Time for action: How to make an offer
1. Make good use of your property consultant’s contacts. They know the other real estate professionals around town and can help you find a solicitor, building inspector and/or valuer that suits your needs.
2. Your property consultant will help you fill out the Sale and Purchase Agreement for the property. Alongside the agreement, you’ll also receive the REAA (Real Estate Agents’ Association) booklet called New Zealand Residential Property Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide and the Edinburgh Realty complaints procedure guide.
3. While time can be of the essence, you may have your lawyer look over the agreement before you submit the offer. The key at this point is to ensure all the necessary conditions are included in your original offer. (While conditions can be adjusted, you can’t add conditions later on, so this is important to note.)
4. The offer may be accepted first off – in which case, woo hoo! Or, as is often the case, the vendor may come back via the property consultant with a counter offer. The process can include several ping ponging phone calls as your expectations and the vendor’s expectations around price hopefully move towards a mutually agreeable figure.
5. If your offer is accepted, start working through your list of conditions. Hopefully it’s not a long list. If finance is a condition, get onto your bank pronto.
Hopefully, by the time you’ve worked through any conditions and the unconditional date moves closer, the excitement levels are rising and the stress levels are falling. In your mind, you’ve probably already arranged your furniture in each room of the house, purchased a few new essential pieces and hung your paintings on the walls...
No turning back: Going unconditional and settlement
Going unconditional is a good day. It’s the day you know you have secured the property and all that’s left is the countdown to settlement day.
Unfortunately, the unconditional date is also the day you need to part with some serious cash, in the form of a non-refundable deposit. Deposits are generally 10 per cent of the asking price, which makes the maths nice and easy. The deposit is paid
to the selling property consultant’s real estate company and held in a trust account
for 10 working days.
What is the difference between going unconditional and settling?
From the time your offer is accepted, until the date you get the keys in your hot little hands, there are two phases.
First, the time between the offer being accepted, through until you “go unconditional”. These are the days you use to tick off your various conditions.
Second, the timeframe between going unconditional and settling. This is generally a month to six weeks and is the flexible period, which allows various households shuffle on to their next home.
Both of these timeframes can be of any length and are determined by mutual agreement between the vendor and yourself. Your lawyer will guide you through this period and let you know what you need to do and by when.
Make yourself at home
Come settlement day, the money has flitted through cyberspace, into the seller’s account. You, in return, have yourself a new property.
Usually, you pick up the keys from your lawyer and drive around – very excited – to take a long leisurely look around your new home, section, farm or commercial building. A property definitely feels different when you stand there as its owner. Enjoy. And don’t forget the tiny matter of moving and, of course, a house warming. Everyone will call by anyway, so you might as well have them all come at once.