Reports and paperwork
Find out as much as you can about the property before you make an offer. This will help you avoid nasty surprises.
Here are key reports to include in your research. Your lawyer or conveyancer can explain anything you don't understand, and can identify any risks or problems.
With any of these reports, if you find something which you don't understand, ask the agent or your lawyer for information and advice. It's almost impossible to know everything there is to know about a property. Think of each report and piece of information as a way to understand what other questions need to be asked.
If you are looking at a house in an area affected by natural disaster, there are additional checks and experts you need to consider.
Buying a house after a natural disaster
LIM report (land information memorandum)
A summary of the current information the council has on the property, including:
- flood and erosion risks for the area
- consents and permits granted by the council, eg building consent for a bathroom, or deck built over a certain height.
It's a good idea to have your lawyer or conveyancer read the LIM report alongside the council files to spot any discrepancies, eg missing consent applications. This might cost extra.
Apply for a LIM report through your local council.
These contain information that isn't in the LIM report, including:
- site plans that show where buildings are in relation to the boundary
- original plans for the property.
This information can help you check if a property has the right consents and permits. Compare the consents and permits in the LIM with the original floor plan, current size, and state of the house to see if something might be missing.
If you can, take the file to a viewing, and compare it to the plan. Are all the rooms in the same place as on the plan? Have any extra rooms/space been added? If you're unsure, ask the real estate agent. If you can't remember what the house looked like, it's a good idea to ask for a private viewing. This gives you the chance to take your time, check out anything you're unsure about and take photos.
Some councils have this information available online, others you may need to visit council to see them. Ask your local council for more information on how to access them.
Doing your homework(external link) — Settled
Council files can be cheaper than LIM reports, and are sometimes more important. To get the whole picture about a property, read these together.
Record of title
It sets out all records about a property, including:
- Owner: Check if the legal owner of the property is the person selling it.
- Ownership type: See if you will own or rent the land and buildings — see Type of ownership for details.
- Restrictions: What you can and can't do with the property, eg protected trees, limits on building height.
- Access rights: Details of who is allowed on your property, eg utilities companies, neighbours who get to their home via your driveway.
Your lawyer can do a title search to get this information, and can help you read it.
Tell your lawyer if there are particular issues you want to be clear on. For example if the view is important to you, ask your lawyer if there are restrictions on the neighbours building over a certain height.
Pre-purchase inspection or building report
Explains the condition of the property, including any maintenance or repairs needed.
Choose an accredited inspector who complies with NZS 4306 — the New Zealand standard for property inspections.
There is no licensing process for inspectors, so it's a good idea to choose someone who is a member of one of these organisations:
Our page on building reports has tips on what to look for, how to read your property inspection report, and what do if there's a problem.
Building reports and red flags
If your building report shows a problem the agent or owner hadn't mentioned, tell them what you have found. They must tell other potential buyers.
Depending on the property, you may need other in-depth checks.
Your bank or insurance provider might ask for additional inspections by specialists. Examples include:
- Building surveyor: Especially for questions or concerns about boundaries or structural soundness.
- Registered electrician: To check the wiring and other electrical installations.
- Geotechnical engineer: For advice on retaining walls and structural issues with the land.
For in-depth information about reports and researching your property, see the Settled website.
Researching the property(external link) — Settled
In an area affected by an earthquake, landslip or flood, do extra checks before making an offer.
Buying a house after a natural disaster