Buying a Home

When buying a property, as well as finding something that will suit your lifestyle, there are a lot of other factors that you will need to check. Check out our handy checklist – perfect for open homes, by checking out the points below, you may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.


House Hunting Checklist

  • Noise – anything loud or annoying that may affect your ability to live comfortably in the house. This could be anything from airports or motorways close by, to noisy neighbours.
  • Sun – Sun can play a big part in heating your house. Look for where the sun hits at certain points throughout the day. You may prefer morning sun through the main bedroom but afternoon soon through the living room for example. Think about how much sun the house will get in winter as well as summer.
  • Insulation – as much as sun can heat the house you need to make sure the house has adequate insulation through the walls and roof. This can also be aided by double glazing of the windows. Without it, in winter especially, you may end up with a very cold house or high power bills.
  • Water or damp issues – Look out for any areas of dampness throughout the house and any areas that may be letting water through. You may also need to look out for any issues that could point to the property being a leaky home.
  • Significant damage or cracks – some damage might be superficial, in that it would just cost to fix the visible issue. But some damage or cracks may be pointing to more serious issues, like the floor not being level.
  • Electrics – do the electrical fittings look modern? You may need to look at getting older fittings replaced.
  • Water pressure – check the taps and showers to see if the water pressure is as expected.
  • Windows and doors – do they open easily? Are they well sealed? If not, this might be fairly easy to fix or could be an unnecessary headache.

One thing you may also want to determine is why the current owner is selling. This may be something simple like they want to upsize with a growing family, but it may also point to something more sinister like problems with the house or neighbourhood.

Other things to consider

  • Transport links – do you need to be able to access public transport regularly to say commute into the city for work?
  • Schooling – If you’re bringing up a family buying within the zones for certain schools can be very important. It is also a good selling point even if you don’t need a school yourself.
  • Amenities – Being close to shops, supermarkets and parks can be more convenient and practical.
  • Safety of neighbourhood – is the neighbourhood safe? This can be especially relevant information if bringing up children.
  • Proximity to your friends and family or to work – for some this might not matter but others may like being near to people they know and trust. Also, being close to your work may reduce the length of your commute, leaving you more time at home.
  • Parking – is there sufficient parking for you and any visitors?

Weighing up properties

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find, or afford, a property that has absolutely everything you’d like. Try to agree the things you need to have and the things you’d like to have. You might decide you need 3 bedrooms and a garage but on top of that you’d like a 4th bedrooms and a large section.

You’ll probably have to compromise on some things with the property you buy but the right one should ideally have all of your needs and a good amount of the extras.

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Apartment living offers a unique lifestyle with a ‘lock up and leave’ mentality - controlled access enables security and privacy, with all exterior maintenance the concern of a Body Corporate. You may even enjoy stunning views and the convenience of inner city living - saving commuting cost and time whilst enjoying all the perks of an inner city lifestyle.  Plus, weekend lawn mowing is no longer your life. Perhaps the gloatiest apartments perk of all?  No parking dramas. There’s nothing quite like being able to stroll to your favourite eatery or café, watching the ‘others’ circling for parks. Poor housey people. 
Apartment dwellers often talk of the sense of community - they know their neighbours and the local dairy or café workers actually greet them by name. They also talk of the freedom from ‘stuff’ that living within a smaller footprint (compared to the traditional villa) enables - as long as smart storage and good layout is on offer, it can be a joy to live a more simplified life. 
Sure, there’s no big backyard with grass under your toes but there’s a lot to be said for apartment living. 
So what’s New Zealand’s current preference for apartment versus a house? We looked to the latest CoreLogic Pain and Gain Report which provides an analysis of homes which were resold over the previous quarter. Comparing the most recent sale price to the home’s previous sale price, determines whether the property resold at a gross profit or gross loss. This provides a proxy for the housing market’s performance, highlighting the magnitude of profit or loss the typical seller of a home makes in analysed regions.
After closing completely in the middle of 2017, a gap has actually re-emerged between the performances of resales for houses versus apartments. In the final quarter of 2017, 9.6% of apartment sales were made at a loss, whereas the figure for houses was a much lower 3.6%. Any recent market fatigue has been concentrated in the apartment segment, perhaps where shorter-focused owners are more prevalent. It’s important to note however that the losses for apartments (and houses) are still low in an historical context and that both of those figures were slightly lower than the previous quarter.
We also spoke to CoreLogic Head of Research Nick Goodall, who provided correction to the assumption that first home buyers were apartment fans: 
“Actually, while we’ve seen First Home Buyers begin to modify their expectations in regards to sacrificing the quarter acre dream, it’s mostly shifted to townhouses and other ‘shared wall’ properties rather than apartments. The latest data shows roughly 10% of apartment sales go to First Home Buyers, while for flats and houses it’s roughly 23% of each”
So there you have it. Apartment living may have its ardent proponents, but the statistics tell a different story about their sales performance right now. For more information, download your free copy of the latest CoreLogic Pain & Gain Report.

New listings have gone through their seasonally typical lift over the last few weeks, however listings in Auckland have not been as strong as around the rest of the country with the one year comparison in Auckland 11% down.

New listings in Canterbury have also been weak, while Waikato has seen a strong increase on the same time last year – up 25%.

Listings are showing signs of increasing both in Auckland and around the rest of the country, which will tend to dampen price pressures. Wellington, however, is still a tight market in terms of property available for sale.

Get your copy of the latest free CoreLogic March Property Market & Economic Update report.

First home buyers have slightly reduced their share of the market in the first few months of 2018, but remain more active than they have been at any point in the past 4-5 years.

Multiple property owners have also increased their share of the market in recent months, perhaps because some will be able to rejig existing finances to allow extra property purchases. On the other hand, movers are taking a smaller share of activity, perhaps preferring to renovate their existing house rather than move.

Get your copy of the latest free  CoreLogic March Property Market & Economic Update report.

The pace of annual rental growth slowed from 4.9% in January to 4.1% in February, a slightly different picture than the stability for value growth.

Gross rental yields continue to tick up and down a little from month to month, broadly hovering at just above the 3% mark.

Christchurch’s rental market remains the weakest of the main centres, with rents down by 1.9% over the past 12 months. Wellington and Tauranga continue to lead the pack in terms of rental growth, but yields in these centres are comparatively low. Dunedin stands out for having reasonably solid rental growth, combined with a reasonable gross yield of 4.6%.

Get your copy of the latest free March Property Market & Economic Update report.

According to the latest QV House Price Index stats powered by CoreLogic data, there is still relative restraint in growth across the market with only a 0.7% increase in the nationwide March figures. 

Auckland experienced a minor lift of 0.2%, while Wellington was also fairly subdued with only 0.6% growth.

So, with it being almost 18 months since value growth hit the brakes I thought it pertinent to analyse the contrasting behaviour of some our cities through the recent cycle.

Full results across the country are available here, but I’ve chosen to put Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Selwyn and Invercargill under the spotlight today.

Firstly looking at the North Island centres:


There are a number of things that stick out to me:

  • Auckland had a ‘pre-boom’ growth phase from 2012 to the end of 2014, when no-one else did. Its second and most significant acceleration began in 2015 and went through to a peak rate of 24.4% by the end of that year. And the growth rate has gradually slowed ever since, with a particular fall-away throughout last year.
  • Once Hamilton ‘went’ it went big. From 4.4% annual growth at the end of June 2015 to 18.2% in just four months, it then continued up to 31.5% annual growth at the end of July 2016. The other side of the purple mountain is just as steep down.
  • Wellington and Napier followed very similar trajectories all the way until mid-2017 when Wellington slowed and Napier held. 
  • Wellington held at its peak rate of over 20% for 9 months to the end of May 2017 before slowing and flattening from September last year.

It’s never sat well with me to talk about Auckland ‘going first’ and the regions following as I believe it’s far too simplistic an analysis. 

Certainly they all missed the boat from the first mini growth phase and second time around all three featured here behaved very differently. The big question now is how long Napier can keep growing at such strong rates. Affordability has certainly deteriorated over the past year. But given the buoyant tourism and horticulture sectors in the area, it’s unlikely that property value growth will come to a screaming halt just yet.

Down south we again see a range of different performances. I’ve re-included Auckland for context and was also interested in Selwyn’s cycle, next to Christchurch and then Invercargill for yet another contrast.

Once again there are plenty of intriguing trends.

  • Post-earthquakes Selwyn saw a very strong response in value growth, up to 14.1% annual growth at the end of August 2012.
  • Christchurch took a bit longer to see a similar increase in growth and it rose to 12.7% at the end of 2013, as the upward effects on property values from the loss of supply finally outweighed the downward effect of the population outflows.
  • Value growth in Invercargill has remained constrained in comparison to many other areas, but has held up more recently.
So what have we learned? First up I think it’s to recognise that we are well past the peak growth phase of this cycle. Yes, some of the smaller centres are seeing continued growth, but given the length of time this has occurred it’s unlikely to last much longer, especially with the tightening of credit through stricter serviceability tests at the banks. 

The other is just how much Auckland has slowed in the last two years. And given not much will change this year, in terms of the lending environment, demand drivers and the well covered supply response, I’m not expecting that growth rate to lift much again any time soon. As we touched on last month though, the lack of growth is not citywide and while volumes are significantly lower than the last few years we are still seeing some buyers remain active so I’m picking a flat year rather than a major drop.

What could change that relaxed view? We’re watching interest rates, the migration balance with Australia, and investor listings.