Whether you’re buying your first home, or you’re an experienced property investor, the ever-changing property market can be a confusing place. There are stages in the process of purchasing that all buyers should be familiar with, these are pre-approval and deposits, what you are looking for and understanding the real estate jargon, understanding documentation, legal advice, making an offer, settlement and what to do if something goes wrong.
Pre-approval and deposits – what can you afford? Saving for a deposit and sorting out your mortgage are essential steps on your property journey. Things can move fast when purchasing a home, so it’s a great idea to have a pre-approved home loan prior to you start looking. Knowing how much you can borrow will help you search for properties in your price range.
What do you want and what to look out for? Purchasing a home can be stressful especially if it’s your first time buying. It can be easy to get distracted by daydreams about what it would be like to live there instead of checking the important things and what you can afford and what would work best for you. Knowing what to look out for can help you make decisions with confidence. If you like what you see, you can start researching the property in more detail.
Learning about the property This is probably the most crucial step. Before you make an offer, you should understand all aspects of the property – including any issues. You can contract experts to inspect areas for you such as a building inspector.
Understanding official documents Once you have decided on a property that interests you, it’s important to read all documents before signing. This might include the LIM, property inspection report, record of title, body corporate documents (for a unit title property) and of course the sale and purchase agreement. Your lawyer or conveyancer is there to deliver advice and take you through any documentation that you do not understand.
Making an offer: If you’re taking out a home loan, you’ll need to confirm your loan approval before your offer goes unconditional. You may be eligible for government help with a KiwiSaver First Home Loan Grant, KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal or First Home Loan. Be sure to get these applications underway as they take time. A sale and purchase agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the seller. You should fully understand all aspects of the agreement before you sign, so it’s important to get advice from your lawyer or conveyancer at this point.
Prepare for settlement Many things need to happen in sequence between your lawyer, the seller’s lawyer, the agent and the banks before the property becomes yours. Settlement is managed by your lawyer or conveyancer, and there is not anything for you to do if all documents have been signed a few days earlier.
Getting help if things go wrong Sometimes, things go wrong when buying property. There are steps you can take and organisations that can help you, like the Real Estate Authority (REA) – the independent government agency that regulates the New Zealand real estate industry.