1 Home Buyer s and Seller s Guide Some things you need to know to make buying and selling easier, and to help you get a great result.
2 3 Welcome Your home is one of the largest financial investments you have and it s a pretty big emotional investment as well. Deciding to buy, sell or build is an important step, and whether it s your first time or you ve done it many times, there s a lot to know and do often in a very short time. This guide sets out to give you practical advice to help everything run smoothly, so you get the home you want and avoid the pitfalls. It covers the main steps, from deciding what you want through to organising your moving day. It also includes helpful checklists so you don t miss something important. And of course, we explain how home loans work and how to apply them in straightforward terms especially helpful if you re buying your first home or haven t done it for a while! It can all seem a bit overwhelming, but we re here to help you achieve your dream. And if you d like to find out how much you can borrow we re happy to meet when and where it suits you at home or work, including after hours or weekends. If you d like to know more just get in touch. You can call into any of our branches, visit us at or call us on any day of the week. The information is as up-to-date as we can make it. But obviously things change, which could affect some bits of information especially prices and phone numbers. The guide is only intended to provide you with general information, and everyone s situation is different. You should always seek independent legal and financial advice before signing any agreement or contract. In this guide Selling your home 50 Building and renovating 58 Getting the right advice 68 Your tool kit Take this guide with you when you re out looking at homes there s a handy tool kit at the back. Westpac New Zealand Limited Published by Westpac New Zealand Limited. Written by Lynn Newman-Hall of WriteBrain Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner/s. New Zealand rights are owned by Westpac New Zealand Limited. International rights are owned by WriteBrain Ltd. The moral right of the author has been asserted.
3 4 5 Buying 06 Where do I want to live? 16 What should I look out for? 28 How do I apply? a home When you decide to buy a home there s a lot to know and do. It s a big investment and you want to get it right. You ll find useful advice here covering each step, from what to look for to getting a loan, and more. And you ll find plenty of helpful tips and lists to help you get organised. The first things you need to think about, including location, investment and where you want to live. 08 What type of home do I want? Questions to ask yourself about the type of home you want with a checklist to help you decide. Checklist page How much can I borrow? This is the first question most people ask us. So here are the basics plus a handy guide to working out what you might be able to borrow. Loan guide page Where do I start? The fun bit is looking at homes. Here s some practical advice on where to start and a list of questions to ask the agent. You don t want to buy a lemon. This section covers things to look out for with a really useful checklist to help you spot potential problems. Checklist page How do I buy my home? There are three main ways to buy a home. We explain them here and give some tips on negotiating. 24 What do I need to know about home loans? The main things you ll need to know about different types of home loans and interest rates if you re shopping around. 26 How do Westpac home loans work? We ve kept home loans really simple you can do just about anything you want with a Choices home loan from Westpac. We ve made applying for your loan as easy as we can. Here s how to go about it plus some tips for first home buyers. 30 What happens next? An overview of the lending process from the time you apply until the home is yours. 32 What s the legal process? You ll need the advice of a good lawyer this section covers the legal stuff you need to know. 34 What insurance do I need? A quick explanation of the insurance you ll need and how we can help plus some tips on home security.
4 6 7 Where do I want to live? Why is location so important? You ve probably heard it often the most important things to look for in a home are location, location, location! Why is it so important? Your home is one of the biggest assets you ll ever own and your home loan is probably the biggest debt you ll ever have. So you want to make sure the money you re investing has the best chance of growing over the years. Good location can help. A desirable area holds its value because others want to live there too. When prices rise better areas tend to go up first and faster. Being in a good area should also make it easier for you to sell when you want to move. And you re more likely to get back any extra money you spend on the property. How do you find a good area? talk to family and friends about the areas they live in ask your real estate agent (or valuer) about recent sales and price trends look for areas where houses are selling well and prices are rising look for an area with good facilities, such as transport, shops, schools, cafes, sporting venues and entertainment also look for areas that are attractive with views, established gardens, lots of trees, or attractive homes for instance in older areas look for locations where you can see places are being renovated and facilities look cared for in newer areas look for locations where there is a variety of home designs and effort going into planting and landscaping remember, most people like sun, shelter, privacy, views and flat land areas that offer all this usually sell well! areas with natural advantages such as parks and beaches nearby also appeal. What sort of area would suit you? Where you choose to live affects your lifestyle and your finances. For instance, living by the beach or out in the hills can be a wonderful lifestyle choice but you may need to think about the time and cost of commuting to work. Here are some things to consider how close do you want to be to work, family and friends? are you prepared to commute and what will it cost? do you like quiet or prefer to be in the heart of the action? if you have a family, what services will you need near by? are you planning to run a business from home will the zoning allow it and what support services will you need? what sport and recreation facilities do you want near where you live? do you like old or new homes? Newer homes are generally in areas further out. Try to look at lots of houses in different areas to get a feel for what you like and can afford. What will the area be like in the future? Check the zoning for the area with your local authority, especially in or around towns and cities, and ask if there are any changes planned. You want to be sure the area is still going to be a nice place to live in the future. Zoning allows and restricts activities that can happen in an area, such as running factories or businesses. An area may seem quiet now, but if it s zoned commercial you may find yourself surrounded by businesses later on. We re here to help. Have a chat with us before you start looking at homes. One of our mobile mortgage managers will be happy to meet you at a time and place that suits you. They have a good understanding of the local property market and can help you work out how much you can afford to spend. Is property an investment? Most New Zealanders want to own a place of their own and consider it a good way to save. Over time house prices tend to rise and keep up with inflation, so buying a home can be a relatively good long-term investment for many. But prices can go up or down. If you want a quick growth investment, or think you might want to sell in a hurry, it would be a good idea to get independent professional financial advice about your options. Here are some of the advantages of investing in property if values go up you ll make a gain there s usually no tax on capital gains (the profit you make if the property goes up in value) many people are better at paying off loans than saving you could make money by buying carefully, or with some types of renovations it s a relatively low risk investment that should keep up with inflation you own your home and end up with an asset instead of just paying rent. On the other hand other investments may earn more property prices can go down as well as up it may take time to sell if you re in a hurry you may have to accept less you have ongoing extra costs like maintenance, rates and insurance if you don t keep your home in good order its value may go down. To make the most of your investment buy in the best area you can afford (buying the worst house in the best street is still good advice) check everything out thoroughly first to avoid problems (there s a checklist later) keep your home well maintained get advice from a valuer before you do any major alterations changes don t always add value. is mainly about lifestyle, but it can also be a steady way to build up wealth over time. And owning a debt free home can make life more comfortable later on. Should you do it up? You may be keen to buy a home you can renovate or do up, thinking it s a good way to make money. It s true that one of the joys of owning a home is making it your own. But it s not always true that you ll get your money back when you sell. You need to be careful not to overcapitalise (spend more on a home than it s worth). Anything you plan to do should be in keeping with the value of the home and the location. If you think you ll want to do big alterations, talk with a valuer first. Some things that can add value redecorating that makes a home feel lighter, more spacious and cleaner work that cuts down on maintenance improving kitchens and bathrooms extra living space and indoor-outdoor flow easy-care, attractive gardens simple fittings like heated towel rails better lighting and skylights. Some things that may not renovations that are out of character with the home and neighbourhood anything that takes something away, such as turning 3 bedrooms into 2, or making a garage into a games room adding unusual features or things most people don t want turning your home into the most expensive one in the neighbourhood. Why buy the worst house in the best street? Being in a good area rubs off on the value of your house and you may make a gain by improving your property to match others in the area. But you need to be realistic. If you won t have the time or money to renovate, it may be better to look for a place that doesn t need much work. If you re renting, use our online calculator to see what home loan you could get instead for the same money!
5 8 9 What type of home do I want? Would you prefer an older home? An older home can provide character in an established setting. Rooms are often large with decorative details. But don t get carried away with the character and forget to think about the work and money that might be needed. Here are a few things to consider older homes can be hard to heat they often have no insulation the layout may not suit modern living often the living rooms are at the front, away from the kitchen and private garden it can be hard to know what s behind the walls, so alterations can be expensive builders may want to work for an hourly rate instead of giving a firm price the age may mean wiring, roofing, piles and plumbing need replacing sometimes even if you want to make small changes you ll end up having to do other work to get consent some renovations need special care asbestos products were used until about 35 years ago, and some paints contained lead until about 15 years ago. Still keen? Check everything carefully, get expert advice first, compare as many homes as you can and ideally find one where the major work has been done for you. Do you want a new home? New homes are generally well insulated, need little maintenance and have modern kitchens and bathrooms. But you may have the extra costs of landscaping, buying curtains and carpets, and commuting. A new subdivision can take a while to start to look established. If you re keen to build, read the section on building and renovating later on. Hot tip. You may want to arrange a loan with extra flexibility so you can afford to make those alterations or finishing touches. Ask about our Choices home loan it s one of the most flexible loans you ll find anywhere. Are you new to New Zealand? If you ve recently moved to New Zealand you might find the process of buying a home here different to what you ve been used to. or apartment in New Zealand can take as little as 3 4 weeks and is usually done through an agent. You ll find a big variety of housing styles ranging from villas built over 100 years ago, to very modern places in different styles. Many homes are built of wood, or have a wooden structure underneath a man-made cladding, and many have metal roofs. Prices also vary a lot. For example it usually costs more to buy in Auckland than the other main cities and less to buy in a smaller town or city, although some coastal areas can be expensive. Prices also vary between suburbs in the same city or town. So it s important to get good financial and legal advice before you buy. We have a special migrant banking team, who speak many different languages, to help you get established here. We can help with all your banking and lending needs, including international banking services. We ve been providing banking services in New Zealand since We re one of the country s largest banks, and we re the bank of the New Zealand Government. You can reach our migrant banking team by phoning , or us at If you haven t already got a copy, ask us for our Migrant Welcome Pack. It has helpful information about banking and living in New Zealand. Do you want an apartment? Living in the city is popular and an apartment can be the ideal first home or retirement unit. An apartment can provide convenience, security and less maintenance, and make it more affordable to live in a good location. On the other hand, a small two bedroom apartment with no parking or outdoor space in town can sometimes cost more than a three bedroom home further out. And not all apartments are good investments. Choose the right building Apartments in older converted buildings can be a problem and make finance and insurance harder to get. Why? Because older buildings may need expensive maintenance, and many earlier conversions were poorly done by people out to make quick money. There can also be problems with newer apartments, for example with building quality or sound proofing. And in some areas the large number of smaller, poorer quality apartments built has affected prices. In general it s not a good idea to buy off the plans in a new complex where you have no proof of the finished quality. Some owners spend years getting problems sorted out. Get the right advice Many people say they love apartment living and it s one of the best moves they ve made. But there can be pitfalls so it s important to do your research and get good advice first. Here are a few tips to get you started talk to your local authority and ask them if they know of any problems they do all the consents and inspections get advice from an independent valuer with experience of apartments in the area you re looking don t rely on a developer s valuation choose buildings by local architects, builders and developers with a good track record be wary of buildings where apartments often come up for sale there may be problems with the building or the body corporate. When you re looking ask is there enough space to suit your lifestyle and belongings? does the home have the features you want? Use our checklist over the page does it have storage and parking? Can you get in and out of the park easily? does it have good safety and fire prevention features? will noises and smells from the area bother you? Visit at different times to make sure what happens to the rubbish? Check it s not stored near your unit can you hear the neighbours? Check for living and plumbing sounds at times others are home is there a live-in manager? If there is, meet them and ask how things run what work has been done recently and is there money put aside for new work? have there been any problems with the apartment or the complex, such as leaks, and what has been done about them? what are the body corporate rules and the levies you have to pay? is there a fund or savings plan to cover large maintenance work? what are the other owners like are they mainly owners or renters? This may affect how quiet and well kept the complex is what is the area like how is it likely to change in the future? What s the body corporate? Most apartment complexes have a body corporate. All the owners belong and pay a levy to cover building running costs and maintenance. The group is responsible for looking after common areas such as stairs, hallways, garaging, car parks and grounds. It also sets the rules for the complex and these can affect what you can do with your unit (for instance you may not be able to alter your unit or run a business from home). Every body corporate is different and it s important to find out how it works and what the rules are, because it can affect both your use of the property and the value of your investment. When you buy an apartment you share the ownership of the land and buildings with others so it s important to understand how things work before you invest we can help with practical advice.
6 10 11 Selling your home Looking for a retirement unit? If you re looking for a place to retire there are all the usual things to look for, but there are some extra considerations as well. You ll want to know what sort of recreational, health and public transport facilities are available in the area. And you ll need to know the home or unit you buy will suit your needs as you get older for instance will the garden be easy to manage, how much maintenance will be needed and how suitable will the home be if your mobility is affected? Considering a retirement village? A growing trend is to buy into a purpose built retirement village. This can be more complex than buying other types of property. Most villages are set up as trusts and the way you own the property may be different. In some villages you own your unit and a share of the common land. But more commonly you buy a licence to occupy (a right to live there for life) instead of directly owning the land or unit itself. In most cases you pay a lump sum up front for your unit and an ongoing fee to cover services. What happens when you want to sell or move can vary you need to check what restrictions or costs there may be. Before you buy you ll have to sign a contract that covers your occupation rights, and the village must tell you about things like its services, management, finances and fees. If you re considering buying in a retirement village you need to get your lawyer to check the paperwork before you sign anything ideally use a lawyer who has experience with retirement villages in the area. You should also ask your financial advisor to check that the village is financially sound. Before you buy, spend some time at the village, try out the facilities and talk with others who live there. Here are some other things to consider what are the ongoing fees and what do they cover? how is the village managed and are the staff helpful and experienced? do you have a say in how things are run? how is maintenance handled? what services are available, for instance cleaning, gardening, emergency meals? what recreational facilities are provided? can friends and family share these facilities with you when they visit? is the village close to community facilities? is any transport provided, or is there public transport nearby? how much privacy will you have? what security is provided? what health facilities are there? is there a range of accommodation so you can stay in the village if your needs change? what happens if you move out what money do you get back and do you have any costs, such as refurbishment? is any growth in the value of the unit yours when you sell? do they belong to the NZ Retirement Villages Association (which sets quality standards for members)? if the village is still being developed, what is the reputation of the developers? Protecting your rights Retirement villages have to be registered and meet certain standards. They must also have a statutory supervisor, a type of trustee, whose role is to protect the resident s financial interests in the village. What do I want in a home? Try to think ahead about what you might want for the next five to ten years. You may have to compromise on some things, so try to visit lots of homes to get a good feel for what your money can buy. There s also a scorecard in the at the back which covers the main points here, and you can use it to compare different homes. What do I want in a home? Inside my home How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms do you want? Do you want formal and informal living areas? Do you want a separate dining room? Would you like open plan family areas? Do you like the living to flow to the outdoors? Would you like a fireplace? Do you want a separate toilet? Is a separate shower essential? Would you like a bath? Do you want an ensuite bathroom? Do you want a study or office? Do you need extra space or storage for hobbies? Do you want a modern kitchen? Is gas heating or cooking important to you? Would you like central heating? Do you want a security system? Outside my home Is a view important to you? Do you want morning, afternoon or all day sun? How important is shelter from the wind? Do you want a private, quiet or secluded home? How important is outdoor living space? Do you want an established garden? Do want a large or flat section? Do you want to drive on to your place? Do you need a garage or carport how many cars? Do you want off-street or nearby parking for guests? Would you like a swimming pool? Do you need the property to be fenced? Other things Where do you want to live? What style of home do you like? Do you want a low maintenance property? Are you prepared to renovate? Do you want the home to have potential to extend? How close to work do you want to be? Is public transport important to you? Do you want to live near shops and restaurants? Do you need to be near schools? Do you need to be near health or medical facilities? What sport or leisure venues do you want nearby? How close do you want to be to friends and family? Anything else? Comments Very important Would be nice Not really important
7 12 13 How much can I borrow? How much can you borrow? The amount you can borrow depends on the value of the home you want to buy how much equity or deposit you have to contribute how much you can afford to pay towards your loan. These things all need to balance, so if you can afford a bigger loan you may need less equity or deposit. How much is the home worth? How much you can borrow is based on the market value of the home. Every lender has different lending guidelines but most will let you borrow up to 90% of the home s market value (or the price you pay, whichever is less) depending on your situation. In some cases you may be able to borrow more. 75% for a purpose built apartment, or up to 75% for a converted apartment 50 75% of the land s market value for a section depending on the area and services such as water and power. What equity or deposit do you need? Generally you need to have put in at least 10 20% of the money yourself before you can get a home loan this is your deposit. It depends on the value and location of the home and your financial situation. This money could come from either equity you already have in a home, from a deposit you have saved, or from being in KiwiSaver. The word deposit is also used to mean the money you pay the real estate agent as the down payment on your home. What if you don t have a deposit? The more you can put towards your home yourself the smaller your loan will be. And having a deposit shows you are committed, and gives both you and your lender a safety margin. But we understand that it can be hard saving enough for a deposit, especially if you re buying your first home or are paying rent at the same time. So we also have other options to help you get into your own home. (eg: your family could help if they can gift you some money for a deposit or become a joint borrower.) Finding it hard to save a deposit? Come and have a chat with us. We may be able to help you get into your own home sooner than you think. What about KiwiSaver? If you have been saving with KiwiSaver for at least 3 years you may be able to take out some or all of your contributions (plus your employer s contributions) to help you buy your first home. After 3 years of saving you might also get a Housing New Zealand first home subsidy of up to $5,000 depending on how long you ve been saving. If you qualify you ll get $1,000 a year for up to 5 years saving. Couples who both qualify could up this amount to $10,000 between them. To qualify there are certain income and home price levels. What if you already have a home? If you already own a home and want to sell it to buy a new one, you can usually use the equity in your current home as the deposit for your new one. Equity is the portion you own yourself after your home loan is paid off. Or you may be able to keep your current home as an investment and use some of the equity you have in it to buy another home. If you d like to find out more about investing in property and whether your home might be a suitable rental home, ask us for a copy of our Investors Guide to Property. What loan can you afford? There s no easy way to work out what you can afford because everyone s situation is different. You might like to start by doing a simple budget so you know what your current situation is and how much you might be able to afford to spend on a home loan. There s a budget worksheet in the tool kit at the back that you might find useful. Most lenders say your total loan payments (for all debts) can t be more than about a third of your income before tax. But they also take your other expenses into account and want to know that you have spare income left over for unexpected expenses and so you can still have a life after buying your home. Here s a quick guide If your annual household income before tax is You may be able to borrow $50,000 $186,200 $60,000 $235,000 $70,000 $287,000 $80,000 $335,700 $90,000 $384,400 $100,000 $433,000 $120,000 $533,600 $150,000 $595,100 This is a very general guide based on a couple without children who already have a deposit and take out a 30 year loan at 8.15% a year interest. We ve allowed for some basic living costs, including $200 a month for rates and home insurance, and have assumed there are no debts except a $2000 credit card limit. How much you could borrow depends on your individual circumstances, so what you could borrow may be more or less than what we ve shown here. How can Westpac help? If you re thinking about buying a home or trading up to a new one come and have a chat with us or we can come to you. We can work out how much you can borrow and explain how everything works. We have a wide range of saving and investment products, including KiwiSaver, to help make saving the deposit for your home that much easier. In some cases we might even be able to help you get into your first home with no deposit! If you already have a home we ll be happy to explain how you can use your existing home to help you buy another home either to live in or as an investment. And if you have a Choices home loan with us you have plenty of options. We ll be happy to explain how you can transfer your home loan over to your new home, or apply for a top up to help cover things like alterations or new appliances. Want to find out more? If you d like to work out in more detail what you might be able to afford use the charts on the next page, or use our online calculators. You re also welcome to call us on we re here 7 days a week to help you. Working out what you can afford. Everyone s situation is different, but here s a quick way to work out what you might be able to borrow. Or you might want to try out our online loan calculators at Step 1. Work out what you can afford If you take a third of your current income and take off any money you re paying for debts now, you ll get a rough idea of the amount you may be able to afford for home loan payments. One third of my income before tax a fortnight Less my fortnightly payments for current debts* Amount I may be able to pay towards a home loan every fortnight $ - $ = $ * Include all your debt payments such as hire purchase, car loans and credit card payments (everything except home loan payments, if you already have a home loan). Fortnightly or monthly? We ve used fortnightly amounts to keep things simple (many people are paid fortnightly and making fortnightly payments can help you save money). But you can pay your loan monthly if you prefer. If you d like to use monthly figures just multiply the fortnightly amount by 26 then divide the total by 12 (or use our online loan calculators to work it out).
8 14 15 Where do I start? How do you find a home? Once you know what you want and can afford, you want to get a feel for the market. You could start by searching the Internet try trademe.co.nz or realestate.co.nz reading the papers weekend papers often have lots of adverts driving around areas you like, looking for For Sale signs and open homes looking at homes in real estate agents windows, or on their websites. Real estate companies Many people find their homes through a real estate company. Often homes are only listed with one company, so ask agents from different companies to show you suitable homes. If a home is a sole agency, only that real estate company can show you the home. A general agency means the home can be listed with a number of companies. Finding it yourself Some homes never come on the market. If you know where you want to live you could put a short note into letterboxes in the area, ask locals if they know of anything coming up, or even put your own advert in the paper. How can Westpac help? Before you get started come and talk with us. We can give you an idea of what you can afford and put you in touch with the right people, such as a lawyer and a valuer. What should you ask the agent? Here are some questions you can ask the agent or the owner, to find out about the home you re viewing why are the owners selling the home? how long has it been on the market? how much interest has there been? what is the Rateable Valuation? how much are the rates? what are the properties nearby worth? what have other places nearby sold for recently? what are the neighbours like do they have children, pets, or noisy parties? what facilities are in the area? what are the schools like, are they zoned? is the house north facing (for sun)? when does it get the sun? what is the prevailing wind direction? is the home sheltered? is there noise from traffic, trains, planes? is there a danger of flooding or erosion? are there any major redevelopment plans for the area? are there any zoning restrictions? what type of title (ownership) does the property have? are there any covenants (restrictions) or easements (rights) on the title? are there any protection orders over the trees or buildings? where are the boundaries? is the home suitable to renovate? could the section be subdivided? does the home need any urgent repairs? has this home been a leaky home? have there been any alterations do these have consents and certificates? has it been re-piled, re-plumbed or rewired and when? what heating and insulation does it have? what fittings are being sold with the home? If you re looking at an apartment or retirement unit also ask what the body corporate or ongoing fee is, and if there are any restrictions on the use of the property or common areas. Private sales Not all homes are listed with real estate agents. Some people try to sell their homes privately and they may use a private sale company to help them with marketing. Don t assume a private sale means you ll pay less the owner may be trying to get more from the sale by not paying an agent and dealing directly with the owner may be quite stressful.
9 16 17 What should I look out for? Is the home in good order? Before you buy a place you want to be sure it s in good order, or at least know what repairs are needed and how much they may cost. Your best protection is to get a report from a building consultant. But you probably won t want to pay for a report until you ve done some checks yourself and are fairly sure it s the home you want. Here are a few pointers When you check the home look for structural problems, or things like rotten wood or leaks that can be difficult and expensive to fix. How much will maintenance cost? The cost of repairs and maintenance depends on the age and condition of the home. But you ll probably need to allow at least $3,000-$5,000 a year. It doesn t mean you ll spend this much every year. But over the years you will have maintenance costs, sometimes quite big ones, and you need to be prepared for this. Here are some rough estimates based on an average size home. Some typical costs $ Estimated New roof (steel) From $10,000 A word about leaky homes Any home can have problems with leaks, especially if maintenance has been poor. But the term leaky homes mainly refers to homes and apartments built in the 80s and 90s using untested building methods and products. Some things to be aware of include monolithic wall cladding systems wall claddings that touch the ground recessed windows and lack of eaves complex roofs and hidden gutters solid balconies and decks jutting from walls. How can you check things out? Once you ve found a home you re interested in you ll want to check it out carefully. It really is a case of buyer beware. You don t want to end up with a lemon, or costs you hadn t planned for. Here are some ways you can check out the place you re interested in. 1. Check the place out When you visit a place you like, take your time. Go back several times. Ask the agent lots of questions (there s a suggested list in the tool kit on page 68), and do a thorough check for things you may have to fix or want to change. 2. Contact the council Ask your local and regional councils for information about the area and any future plans. Talk to the town planners (and ask them if there s anyone else you should talk to). Ask about the district or resource plan. It sets out the rules for development in the area, including zones and building heights. You can also get things like drainage and building plans and copies of permits for the property from your council. 3. Apply for a LIM report A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) from the local authority gives you all sorts of valuable information about drainage, roads, flooding, erosion, consents etc. There s a charge for LIM reports and prices vary around the country but you can expect to pay around $150 $350 (costs are generally higher in the larger cities and you usually pay more if you need an urgent report). While LIM reports can contain a lot of valuable information they may also be missing vital bits (such as accurate boundaries, or mention of Wahi Tapu or sacred sites), so it s a good idea to also talk with the staff and try and find out what other information the authority may have about the property and its neighbours. 4. Get expert advice Get a report on the property from a licensed building surveyor. Make sure you choose someone with a good reputation and ask them what their report will and won t cover. Also ask them to give you an idea of what it might cost to fix any problems they find. If there could be any problems with the land or large structures you should also get a report from an engineer. You my also want to check with the Weathertightness service (see the Useful contacts section) to see if there has been a leaky home claim for the property. 5. Check the title to the property This will tell you if there are any restrictions that could affect your ownership or use of the property. The agent should have a copy of the title. Also talk to your lawyer about the title and any other checks they think you should do. You might also want to ask your lawyer about title insurance. It could help protect you if you find later on that the boundaries are wrong or there has been illegal work done on the property. Keep a record of the homes you visit Remembering all the homes you visit and which agent you saw them with can be hard. Use the diary in the Tool kit at the back of the guide to help you keep track. Signs of movement and sinking include cracks in walls and doors or windows that are crooked or jammed. Rotting or borer filled timber is soft and spongy. Rotting wood sounds dead when you tap it and crumbles if you push a key or something sharp into it. Signs of leaks include mould, mildew and bulges in the wall. Often the place will smell musty as well. Musty or unpleasant smells can also be a sign of problems with the drains or sewerage. Be wary of fresh paint and plaster especially if only some areas have been done up it could well be covering up a problem. Furniture and pot plants can provide good camouflage too, both indoors and out, so don t be embarrassed to look behind or under them. Some common problems include poor ventilation and lack of insulation lead paint and asbestos problems dangerous wiring deterioration in wall claddings and roofs rotting timber windows perishing seals on aluminium windows breakdown of silicon sealers leaky homes. There s a checklist over the page with tips about what to look out for. New spouting/ gutters $3,000 $4,000 Re-wiring $12,000 $15,000 Re-plumbing $10,000 $15,000 Re-piling $10,000 $15,000 Outside paint job $5,000 $12,000 New switchboard $3,000 $4,000 Ceiling insulation $1,500 $3,000 Retaining walls $ a metre Storm water drains From 10,000 Fencing From $100 a metre New kitchen $8,000 $20,000 + New bathroom $8,000 $20,000 + New shower $1,000 $,3000 New toilet $300-$1,000 New carpet $6,000 $15,000 Central heating $3,000 $10,000 New gas or wood fire $1,000 $5,000 A pre-purchase report from a reputable building consultant can help you decide how much you might have to spend on repairs and maintenance. If the home you re looking at has these types of features it s really important to get a building report done by someone qualified to do a weathertightness report (and preferably using a moisture meter). If you later find a problem you may be able to make a claim, but it s a lengthy process and there s a time limit for making a claim.
10 18 What do I need to look out for? Once you ve found a home you like, don t let emotions carry you away take a careful look for potential problems. And try to find out what repairs might cost so there are no expensive surprises later on. There s also a scorecard in the Tool kit at the back which covers the main things to look out for and you can use it to compare different homes you view Structural things Floors Walls and ceilings Doors and windows Under the house Inside the roof Living areas Light Gas Power Fireplace Central heating Fittings and chattels Flooring TV Are the floors uneven or do they move when you walk around (try jumping up and down)? It could mean problems with the piles. Check for rot and borer holes. Are the floors spongy or damp? Look out for rust or other stains, mould, bulges and cracks that could indicate leaks or that a house that is sinking. Check for fresh paint and plaster that could be a cover-up. Are walls and ceilings insulated? Check they open without sticking, that handles and locks work (and have keys). Sticking or crooked windows and doors can mean a home is moving. Check woodwork for rot and borer. Check rubber seals on aluminium doors are not perished. Look for signs of dampness, leaks, borer, pests, gaps or rot in floorboards, cracks in the foundations, rotten or sinking piles. Is there good ventilation to keep it dry? Test wooden piles below ground level for soft rot. Look for leaks, holes, sagging roof, cracks in the chimney, bird nests. Check for insulation. Is there enough natural light? Do skylights open? Are the flames strong? Turn all outlets on at once to check flow if the flames are weak there could be a blockage. Gas fires need to be vented to the outside to prevent condensation. Are fittings, switches and sockets in good repair? Are there enough power points and lights? Is the switchboard old? Does it work? Is the chimney old or cracked? Is there a permit? Black stains above the fire can mean it s not working well. Does it work? Ask to test it. Ideally there should be outlets in most rooms, and several controls around the home. What chattels are included in the sale? Are carpets, curtains, lights, heaters, dishwasher and so on in good order? Check under furniture for worn or stained patches. Is there an aerial? Is the reception good? Kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms Water Check all taps work turn them all on at once to test pressure. Is there plenty of hot water? Is the tank insulated and restrained? Fans Do they vent to outside? If they don t, they can cause fires. Appliances Do the oven, hobs, dishwasher and rangehood work? Cupboards and wardrobes Look inside them. Is there enough storage? Do they open and shut properly? Check for mould and damp smells. Toilet Does it flush strongly? Are the bowl and cistern cracked or stained? Bath, shower and hand basin Are they in good condition? Check the water pressure and look around them for signs of mildew, leaks or rotting surrounds. Outside areas Roof Outside walls Plaster and paintwork Spouting, gutters and flashings Sheds, garages and decks Banks Boundaries Drainage and flooding Access and driveways Other Also think about Noise and smells Safety, security and fire prevention Check for rust, holes, cracked tiles, signs of leaks. Check for rotten or broken boards, cracks in plaster, rust or other stains. Is the cladding clear of the ground? Is it in good repair? Is it cracked? Look for peeling paint and plaster. But also check new work to make sure it s not a cover-up job. Look for rust, holes, cracks and gaps. Are all doors and windows flashed or sealed to prevent leaking? Check for broken sealants. Are they in good order? Have they been built with permits? If decks or balconies are fully clad, check carefully for signs of leaks or repairs. Is there any sign of erosion? Are retaining walls in good condition? Ask where the boundaries are? Can you see any survey pegs? Are fences in the right place? Is anything over the boundary? If you re not sure, you could get a plan from the council and measure things out or get a survey done. Are there storm water drains? Is the ground boggy? Are there nearby streams or rivers that flood? Is there good access to the house? Are steps, paths and drives in good order? If access is shared is it likely to cause problems and who pays for the upkeep? Is there a washing line? Is there an entry porch? Are fences and railings in good order? Is the soil good? Are the grounds well looked after? Look under and behind big pot plants they may be a cover-up. Check for noises from traffic, trains, planes, neighbours, nearby industry. Check for smells from local businesses, waterways or rubbish collection. Visit at different times of the day to check. Is the access well lit? Is the street lighting good? Check for fire exits are fire escapes in good order? Are there smoke detectors? Is there a security system? Do all external doors lock? Do all windows fasten securely? Do decks and balconies have secure railings?
11 20 21 How do I buy my home? What are the different ways to buy? There are three main ways to buy a home 1. by offer and negotiation you make an offer and then negotiate if necessary until you and the seller agree on a price 2. at an auction you go along on the day and everyone interested bids against each other until only one bidder is left 3. by tender everyone interested in buying puts in a written offer for the seller to consider, usually all at the same time. Most homes are still sold by the first means. But auctions and tenders are often used in sought after areas, or if a home has a special feature, or needs to be sold by a set date. Buying by offer and negotiation This is normally done through a real estate agent using a standard sale and purchase agreement. You make a written offer using this form, which the agent takes to the buyer. If the buyer accepts your offer, they sign it and the form becomes your sale contract. But the seller may want to negotiate and make a counter offer (where they change something in the offer then sign it). The agent will come back to you to see if you agree to the change and if you do, you sign the change and the deal is done. Or you might decide to change something yourself and the process is repeated until an agreement is reached or one of you decides to stop. The big plus about buying this way is that you can take time to think and you can put in conditions that let you check the place out before you re fully committed. Get your offer checked by your lawyer before you sign it and again if the seller wants to change any conditions during negotiation. Important things to know Your sale and purchase agreement is a legal contract. You need to have it checked by your lawyer before you sign it and if any of the conditions change during negotiation. The agreement becomes binding once both you and the seller have signed it and initialled all the changes. You can stop negotiating at any time up until then. You can take your time. You don t have to have everything agreed in one day or evening although this is what the agent may be hoping to do. If the seller changes something, you can change the offer. So if the price goes up you may want to extend the settlement date or ask for something else to be included in the deal. Or you may want to make your offer more attractive without raising the price by taking some conditions out. Paying a deposit to the agent Once everything s agreed you pay a deposit of 5 10% of the sale price to the agent. The rest of the money is paid on settlement day. The agent pays the money to the seller when your offer becomes unconditional (when all the conditions are met and the sale is definitely going ahead). You get your money back if the sale falls through because the conditions are not met. But you can t usually get it back if you want to back out after everything is unconditional. The deposit is held in a trust account and is protected by law. No one can take it if the real estate company goes broke and there s a fidelity fund to cover missing money. If you re buying privately The process is much the same if you re buying privately but it may be more difficult negotiating directly with the seller, especially as they may be expecting more from the sale. It s very important to use your lawyer at each step. If you buy privately, pay the deposit to your lawyer so they can arrange for it to be held in a safe trust account. The sale and purchase agreement The agreement mainly used these days is a standard one created by the Real Estate Institute and the Auckland District Law Society. It s about 10 pages long and in small print, so you may want to get a copy from your agent and read it in advance so you understand what s in it. It covers things like responsibilities under various laws and what happens if settlement is late and lets you insert your own dates, amounts and conditions. Is your offer conditional? Making your offer subject to conditions gives you time to check that everything s okay. If your conditions are not met you don t have to go ahead, or you can renegotiate for instance you might be happy to do repairs if the price is lower. It s very important that your lawyer checks your offer and any conditions you add. The other thing to remember is that too many conditions can put a seller off. Is your offer unconditional? If you make an unconditional offer you need to sort out your loan and everything else beforehand because once the offer is accepted you have to go through with the sale. If you break the contract you can be sued. Sellers can add conditions too Sellers can also add conditions, although this is less common. One you may see is an escape clause. This means if they get a better offer they can give you a deadline to make yours unconditional. If you can t meet the deadline they can accept the other offer. Important dates Your offer has several dates in it. The finance date is when you need to have your money arranged by and settlement date is the day you take over the home. We also suggest you put in a date that your offer ends if the seller doesn t accept it that way you re not left wondering while the seller possibly waits for a better offer. Some important don ts don t feel pressured into rushing things don t sign anything you don t understand don t tell the agent or seller your top price. This offer is subject to Here are some common types of conditions buyers add to the agreement. finance this gives you time to arrange your loan. Make sure it says finance on terms satisfactory to you or you could be forced to borrow on terms you don t like title search so your lawyer can check there are no problems with the title, or restrictions, covenants or easements you need to know about valuation report so you can check the market price. Your lender will probably want you to get one anyway LIM report so you can check what the council knows about the property and make sure there are no problems with things like consents or flooding building inspection report so you can check the building is sound and find out about any problems that might cost money engineer s report so you can check any structural or land issues sale of another home if you need to sell one home to buy another. You might also want to add other conditions covering things like repairs they ve said they ll make or extra items they ve agreed to leave. Your conditions need to state that the report, finance or repairs must be satisfactory to you. Otherwise you will still have to go ahead even if you re not happy with the results. Your lender will need to see the sale and purchase agreement after the deal is done. But talk to them beforehand to check if they have any specific clauses they want added. If you re building There may be extra loan conditions if you re building, so it s a good idea to talk with us before you sign anything. We strongly advise you to get legal advice before you sign any agreement or contract.
12 22 23 Selling your home Buying by auction Auctions may be used if a property is unusual or hard to value because it has some special feature, such as a great view. Or the seller may want to sell by a set date. If you buy at auction it s unconditional, so you need to arrange your finance and do all the legal and other checks beforehand. How does the auction work? If a home is being auctioned, the buyers go to the auction and bid against each other until there s only one bidder left. The auctioneer runs the auction and tells you what amounts they will accept. They ll try to start high but towards the end they may accept bids of $1,000, or even $500 or less. The seller usually sets a reserve price and tells the auctioneer what it is. If the final bid is over the reserve, the home is sold and the buyer pays a deposit, usually 10%, to the auctioneer. Settlement (the day you get ownership) is usually set for 20 days later, but can often be negotiated. If the reserve isn t reached, the home is passed in, meaning it didn t sell at auction. Often it sells by negotiation straight after the auction. If you are the highest bidder you have the first chance to negotiate and can add conditions to the contract at this stage if you need to. It s a good idea to go along to a few auctions first to get a feel for the way they work. Set yourself a firm price limit before the auction and try not to get carried away on the day. What s a good strategy? Buying at auction makes most buyers nervous, but chances are the people you re bidding against have never bought a place at auction either. Everyone has their own ideas about how to bid. One strategy is to hold back at first and then come in when some of the other bidders have dropped out. Once you re in the bidding try to appear calm and determined so other bidders think you mean to keep going. You can start bidding at any time right up until the auctioneer says sold. And you can stop at any time. The auctioneer will still give you chances to bid and don t worry, they do know a genuine bid from an inadvertent nose scratch! Before you buy at auction register your interest with the agent talk things over with your lawyer ask them to do all their checks, like checking the property title get a copy of the auction contract arrange your finance with the bank get a valuation and any other reports you need done get all the other information you need such as a LIM from the council make sure you have the money ready to pay a deposit to the auctioneer decide on your top price. Buying by tender With a tender you make a written bid for the property. It needs to be your best offer as the seller looks at all the offers together and you probably won t get the chance to negotiate. The seller may accept the highest offer or decide to negotiate with the person whose offer they like best. Or they could reject all the offers. You don t get the chance to find out what the other offers are. You can put conditions in your offer if you want. But it is better if you check things out beforehand instead because the more conditions your offer has, the less attractive it will be to the seller. How do you go about it? register your interest with the agent get a copy of the tender document it tells you how the tender must be made, and gives details like the settlement date discuss the tender document with your lawyer and prepare a written offer get a valuation and other reports, like a LIM, first so you know the market value when you put your offer in you may have to include a deposit this is refunded if your bid is not successful if your offer is accepted you are committed to buying the place and have a set amount of time to meet all the sale conditions. Tenders are usually arranged through real estate agents. If the tender is closed it means offers have to be in by a certain date and won t be considered before then. An open tender means there is no time limit. Can you buy before the auction or tender date? Often the seller is prepared to look at offers before the auction or tender closing date. In fact you may see the words if not sold prior in the advertisement for the sale. Ask the agent handling the sale what their policy is on prior offers. Usually if someone makes an offer that s acceptable to the seller, everyone else who has registered their interest gets a chance to make an offer too. You won t know what anyone else s offer is. So if you re interested in a place that s being auctioned or sold by tender it s important to register your interest straight away and do all your checking as soon as you can. That way you could try to make an offer before other buyers are ready. It also gives you the best chance of being able to make an offer yourself if someone else gets in early. If you want to try to buy the place before the auction or tender date you ll probably have to make an unconditional offer. Have you got your deposit ready? If the money you need to give the agent or auctioneer as your deposit is tied up, perhaps as equity in your current home or in an investment you can t break yet, talk with us. We may be able to help by lending you the money you need for a short time or by guaranteeing your deposit. 4 tips to improve your chances 1. Get your loan pre-approved so you have more negotiating power 2. Talk with a lawyer early on, so you can act promptly if you find a good opportunity 3. Know exactly what you re prepared to pay and be ready to walk away if you have to 4. Shop around so you know the market and can recognise a good buy.
13 24 25 What do I need to know about home loans? What do you need to know first? When you buy a home you usually need to put in a deposit either money you ve saved or equity from another property. The more you can put in the better, because it reduces the amount you need to borrow. Most lenders will ask you to put in at least 10-20% yourself, although here at Westpac we may be able to help you with a low deposit loan. You can usually take out a home loan for up to 30 years (this is called the loan term). Most lenders will charge you a fee to set up your loan. Principal and interest The money you owe is called the principal. With most loans you make fortnightly or monthly repayments and the money is split so that some goes to repay the principal, and some to pay interest to the bank. Interest is what you pay the lender for the use of their money. It s always an annual percentage, for example 9% p.a. (p.a. is short for per annum, meaning a year). It s usually worked out each day and charged to your loan every fortnight or month. With a long-term loan you often end up paying more in interest than the amount you borrow. But you can make big savings by paying your loan off as quickly as possible. You can save a lot in interest if you pay half your monthly loan payment every fortnight (it means you make two extra payments a year) make your payments as big as you can and increase them whenever you can keep your payments the same if interest rates go down pay off extra when you have spare cash. To make the most of these suggestions you ll need some of your loan on a floating rate. Different types of interest rates There are three different types of interest rates floating, fixed and capped, or you can get a loan with a combination of these. Floating interest rate this can go up and down when the market changes, so you pay the going rate. This type of rate gives you more flexibility to actively manage your loan, for example you can pay off some or all of the loan without having any extra costs to pay. Fixed interest rate this type of rate is fixed at a set level for a certain time. It s good for people who need certainty about how much their payments will be. If you want to change a fixed rate loan or end it early a break cost may apply. Capped rate the interest rate can go up and down but it can t go over a set level for a certain time. It gives you some certainty about payments and you won t get caught on a high rate if rates go down. Currently Westpac is the only lender offering a capped interest rate. Combination of rates and terms you can have the best of all worlds by having part of your loan on a floating rate (an amount you think you can pay off quickly) and the rest on a fixed or capped rate so you have more certainty about how much your payments will be. Or you might want to combine several fixed (or capped) rate terms so not all your loan is due to be refixed at the same time. This can help you manage the risk that interest rates are higher when your fixed rate ends. Want to lock in the rate that suits you? With Westpac you can lock in your fixed or capped rate for up to 60 days when you apply for your loan. It doesn t cost any extra to take up, and it means any change in interest rates between when you apply and pick up your loan won t affect you. What types of loans are there? There are several different ways of paying off your home loan. Most people choose a table loan because it gives more certainty about payments, or a transactional loan because it s more flexible. Get the right loan for you. We ll help you work out the best way to structure your loan to suit your finances and lifestyle. Table loan With a table loan your regular payments are the same each time (unless interest rates change). At first most of the money goes towards the interest you owe, but as your loan starts to go down more of each payment goes towards repaying the loan itself. This is the most popular type of loan because it gives more consistency to your payments. Interest only loan An interest only loan is where you pay all the interest owing each fortnight or month, but nothing off the loan itself. These are usually short-term loans (up to 3 years) to help keep payments low while you are building, or if you need bridging finance while you try to sell another home. You have to repay the whole loan at the end or get another loan. An interest only loan will cost you more in interest than a table or reducing loan because the principal isn t going down. Transactional and revolving loans With a transactional loan your loan and everyday banking are combined into one account. There are usually no set repayments as long as your loan balance goes down a certain amount each month. A revolving loan is where you can keep taking the money out again so it s like a large overdraft. There s usually a set date when you have to repay the loan by. At Westpac we have a Choices Everyday loan that combines the benefits of both transactional and revolving loans. This type of loan gives you the most flexibility. Reducing loan With a reducing loan you pay a set amount off the loan each time plus all the interest you owe. So your payments are a lot higher at the start than later on. This can save you interest because you pay more off the loan earlier on. Regular payment amount Interest With a table loan you are paying mostly interest at first but your payments stay the same. Regular payment amount An interest only loan keeps payments down but you don t pay anything off your loan. Graph to come Regular payment amount Interest Interest Loan balance With a revolving or transactional loan you can pay off extra and take money out again as you want. Principal Principal Loan limit With a reducing loan your payments are high to start off with.
14 26 27 How do Westpac home loans work? We ve kept it simple with Choices There are lots of different types of home loans in the market. So at Westpac we ve tried to keep it simple we only have one home loan and you can do just about anything with it. That s why we call it Choices. You choose the options that suit you best, from the type of interest rate to how you repay your loan. You can change it around, pay off more, take extra out, use Choices for your everyday banking and have all the advantages of online and phone banking. Your Choices home loan will be set up so that as your life changes your loan can change too. Normally you can even take it with you when you move, keeping the same rate and term and without paying any extra loan fees. Quite simply it s one of the most flexible home loans you ll find anywhere. Like to find out more? If you d like to know about Choices there s a brochure at the back of this guide, and you might like to visit us at You re also welcome to just drop into one of our branches you don t need an appointment. Or call us on We re here to help you 7 days a week. How much can you borrow? You can borrow up to 90% in most urban areas. If you re buying a new home and keeping your old one as an investment, you may be able to borrow up to 90% for the new home and use the equity in the other one as your deposit. For an apartment you can usually borrow up to 75% for purpose built apartments, or up to 75% for converted apartments (where the building was originally designed for another use). If you re buying a section we may be able to lend up to 50 75% of the land s value depending on the area and services such as power and water. Of course how much you can borrow varies quite a bit. It depends on things like the type of home you re buying, if you already have a home and how much you can afford to pay back. So talk with us about your plans and we ll give you a clear idea straight away of how we can help. Depending on your lending needs an establishment fee and other charges may apply. Want to borrow over 80%? If you want to borrow more than 80% of the home s value you may need to get a valuation report. Most lenders will also ask you to pay for lenders mortgage insurance or a low equity premium as an upfront fee to cover their extra risk when you re putting little or no money into the home yourself. Westpac has a different approach if you want to borrow over 80% we add a small margin on your interest rate (a low equity margin) instead of the upfront fee. When your loan falls below the 80% mark (perhaps you pay off some off your loan or your home goes up in value) just get in touch and we ll review your margin. With a Choices home loan you can usually borrow up to 90% of the money you need in most urban areas choose the type of interest rate you pay floating, fixed, capped, or a combination to suit you lock in your fixed or capped rate for up to 60 days when you apply choose the loan that suits you table, reducing, interest only or everyday loan pay your loan fortnightly or monthly or have no set payments with an everyday loan speed up or slow down your payments pay off lump sums or take money out again if you re under your limit pay your loan back early take a break from your payments great if you re starting a family use your loan for other things like buying a car or doing home renovations have your income paid into Choices use Choices as your everyday account use EFTPOS, ATMs and cheques do all your banking online or by phone manage your loan online even download the information into a spreadsheet change the type of interest rate have your loan for up to 30 years take your loan with you if you move home. Talk to us about what you d like from your home loan. Some of these options are only available with certain loan types. Westpac s current lending criteria apply to all home loan applications. Charges and conditions may also apply.
15 28 29 Want to be pre-approved for a loan? If you d like to have more bargaining power when you re buying, ask us about getting a conditional home loan approval. We can often arrange one on the spot and it will last for 90 days. What information do we need? We know you want a fast answer. And we can usually give you one on the spot, but at the longest it only takes about 24 hours from the time we get all the information we need. Two types of identification we need this by law, even if you re a customer. You can use your passport, birth certificate, resident s permit, drivers licence or credit card as ID. We may also need to do a credit check, especially if you re a new customer. How do I apply? A conditional approval means we ve approved you as a borrower and can give you a home loan, providing nothing changes for you and the home you choose meets our lending conditions. It means you know exactly what you can afford to pay and it proves to sellers you re a serious buyer. It could help you get a better deal on your home. It will help if you have a few things ready before we talk. Here s what s needed. Proof of your annual income such as recent payslips or bank statements showing your annual income, or a letter from your employer. Include anything that shows regular overtime, bonuses or commission. How would you like to apply? Buying or selling a home is a busy time. So our service is designed to fit in with your timetable and the way you like to do things. You can call in and see us anytime (you don t need an appointment). You can phone or reach us online any day of the week, or we can come and see you when and where it suits you. You can even get started online. You don t have to be a Westpac customer to apply and you don t even have to do all your banking with us after you get a loan (but of course it would make things easier for you). Take the first step We ll come and see you one of our Mobile Mortgage Managers can come and meet you any time that suits, including evenings and weekends. You can find the mobile manager nearest you listed on our website, or call us on Call into any of our branches and tell us you re interested in a home loan. If you d like to make an appointment first, call us on Visit just go to our website and tell us you want to get started and we ll be in touch. Phone us any day of the week if you prefer just call us on We re here from 8am 8.30pm weekdays and 9am 5pm weekends. We ll make applying for your loan as fast and as easy as we can. You don t have to find a home first it s a good idea to talk with us before you even start looking. What happens first? When you first get in touch we ll explain how everything works. This takes about minutes. Or if you want to apply on the spot allow about 45 minutes. We ll cover things like how much you can borrow borrowing extra for things like renovations how much deposit or equity you ll need your different loan options interest rates and loan payments locking in a fixed or capped rate getting a valuation or other reports getting legal advice and making an offer conditions you ll need in your offer the insurances you ll need what to do if the home is being auctioned or sold by tender. Want to make a cash offer? If you want to make an unconditional offer or tender, or buy a home at auction you need to ask us for a conditional approval first and do all your legal and other checks on the property before you make a bid or offer. If you re self-employed, you can use your latest profit and loss statement or your latest tax assessment notice from Inland Revenue. If you don t have a current profit and loss statement you may be able to get a Lo-Doc loan using a declaration of income instead. Details of your debts and expenses such as loans, credit cards, hire purchases, child support, home maintenance costs, and the rates and insurance costs for your new home (if you know them). It would also be useful to have an idea of your normal household expenses. Your sale and purchase agreement if you ve already made an offer we ll need to see a copy of your signed sale and purchase agreement. If you re building we need to see the sale and purchase agreement for the land and your contract with the builder. We may need a valuation report from an approved valuer too. Evidence of your deposit such as bank statements or sale and purchase agreement (for the home you re selling). A few tips for first home buyers If you re a first home buyer you may feel a bit nervous about applying for a loan and worried about missing out on a home you ve fallen in love with. How can you improve your chances of getting the loan you want? Here are some tips that can help talk to the bank early on and find out what their lending requirements are find someone you feel comfortable dealing with and keep in touch with them create a good savings history even three to six months of regular saving can help work out a budget before you see the bank to show you are well organised financially pay off as many debts as you can before you apply for a loan (having other debts can reduce the amount you can borrow) try to gather up the information the bank needs before you apply (it ll save you time and means you ll get your answer faster).
16 30 31 What will you need to sign? The main document involved is the home loan agreement. There may also be some paperwork if we re opening new accounts for you. What if you re not successful this time? If we can t give you a loan we ll let you know as soon as possible and explain why. What happens next? When your loan is approved Usually we can tell you on the spot how much you can borrow and if there are any special conditions. Then, if you haven t already made your offer, you can go ahead and negotiate knowing exactly what your top dollar is. Once you ve got everything signed and agreed, we ll work with you and your lawyer to get the paperwork done and make sure everything happens on time. The first steps First we need to see a copy of your sale and purchase agreement and confirm the dates with you (like the settlement date). Then check with you about things like what sort of loan and options you want how you want your payments set up what bank accounts you ll need what insurances we can help with how you ll be paying your share of the purchase price. We ll also make a time for you to come in and see us so we can set up things like your automatic loan payments and any insurances you may need (there s more about our insurances on page 35). During this stage your lawyer also checks that the conditions in your sale and purchase agreement are met, that there are no problems with the title, that the house is insured and the rates paid and lets us know everything is okay. The final step settlement On settlement day your lawyer gives us a certificate to say everything can go ahead. We then pay the money to your lawyer (including the money you re putting in yourself if it s in an account with us). It may be a little different if you re building. If progress payments are needed, the lawyer will arrange the payment for the section and we ll make out bank cheques for the builder at different stages of the project. You ll get regular loan statements so you can keep an eye on your loan (you can check it online or at your nearest branch anytime). If you have a fixed or capped rate loan we ll be in touch before it s due to end to see what you want to do next. We can move it straight into another fixed or capped rate or it may be a good time to restructure your loan. We ll also stay in touch to let you know about new options or ways to save money, and will regularly review things with you to make sure your home loan still suits your lifestyle. We ll be happy to guide you through the whole process if you have any questions just contact your branch or call us on People often confuse the home loan agreement and the mortgage. The loan agreement sets out the terms and conditions of your loan it s a document which we prepare and send to your lawyer for you to sign. The mortgage is the security for your loan (it gives your lender certain rights if you can t pay your loan) it s an electronic record on the title of your home which your lawyer arranges. Your loan agreement covers things like how much we re lending you and how long the loan is for when payments will be made and what happens if they re late or missed changes you can make to your loan and any costs that might be involved what the interest rate is and how much notice we need to give about changes keeping the home insured and paying rates and insurance on time. It may be that you need to save up a larger deposit or have more equity. Or you may need to build up more of a savings history even saving for another three to six months can make a difference. The loan also has to be realistic you need to have enough left to live on once you become a homeowner. So we may not be able to offer you as much as you d like, but we may still be able to help if you find a home that costs a little less. Whatever the reason, we ll talk over the options with you. And we ll help you work out the steps you can take so that you can apply again successfully and get that home you want. Want to work out a budget or a savings plan? Why not visit us at and try out our online saving and loan calculators. The next steps We prepare your home loan agreement and send it to your lawyer, and ask them to arrange your mortgage. You ll need to see your lawyer so they can explain this to you, and so you can sign the paperwork. And afterwards After settlement day we ll contact you to check everything has gone okay and that your loan payments have started. If things change ask us how you can speed up your loan payments to save money. Or if things get a bit tight, ask how you can change your loan to make things easier.
17 32 33 What s the legal process? What s your lawyer s job? Your lawyer s job is to protect you by checking contracts, explaining your rights, and making sure the property s title is in order. They also do the legal work to transfer the property to you (the conveyancing) and register your mortgage on the property title. They ll provide advice on things like different ways to own the property (for example as joint tenants), negotiating the price and things you need in your sale and purchase agreement. They may also help with arrangements for your loan and insurance. And they ll probably suggest you make a new Will and Enduring Power of Attorney, so your affairs are in good order if something happens to you. Before you make an offer You should always seek a lawyer s advice before you make an offer to buy a home. They can help you by checking the sale and purchase agreement, auction or tender documents making sure you have the right conditions in your offer to protect you arranging valuations and reports advising you on ownership matters and any legal issues providing advice on negotiating the price. If you re buying at auction or wanting to make an unconditional tender, your lawyer will need to do all the legal checks first, such as checking the title and LIM report. You should never sign an offer or any legal document without asking your lawyer to check it first. When your offer is accepted Once your offer is accepted your lawyer makes sure the conditions in your agreement are met and starts doing the legal work to transfer the property to your name. The transfer is done electronically using Landonline (the electronic dealing system of LINZ, Land Information New Zealand). Your lawyer signs online on your behalf, so they will ask you to sign a form giving them authority to act for you. At this stage their job usually includes checking the title for any ownership restrictions checking the LIM for things like consents, and potential problems checking local authority plans to see if any major changes are likely checking all the conditions in your agreement are met preparing the authority form for you to sign and confirming your identity so they can act on your behalf setting things up in Landonline a lot of the legal work is done in advance explaining your loan agreement to you and arranging the mortgage checking rates and other costs are paid up to date making arrangements with you and the bank for payment of your loan and your share of the purchase price. Your lawyer will also check the property is insured this is a condition of your home loan. We can arrange all your insurances when you apply for your loan. Do a final check Before settlement day it s a good idea to do a final check to make sure the property is still in the same order any agreed repairs have been done everything you ve bought is still there. If there s a problem, talk to your lawyer before everything becomes final. On settlement day On settlement day your lawyer works to settle the deal and does the transfer of ownership. This work includes doing a guaranteed title search liaising with the seller s lawyer to make sure you receive a clear title paying the money to the seller s lawyer ensuring the seller s lawyer does their side of the electronic dealing completing the transfer using Landonline final details such as where you get the keys and when you can move in! The money paid on settlement day takes into account the deposit you ve already paid on the home to the real estate agent. After settlement After settlement the lawyer will register the new mortgage and the transfer of the title provide you with a statement showing all the purchase details send a copy of the title, mortgage and certificate of insurance to your lender give you a copy of the title showing you registered as the new owner. It s a digital world Unlike the old days there are no longer any fancy paper titles for properties. Now land records are electronic and the transfer work is done using Landonline, the electronic registry system of LINZ (Land Information New Zealand). This means you won t be asked to sign any ownership or transfer papers just a form so the lawyer can do the work for you. The lawyer must be licensed by LINZ to do this work and their systems have to meet certain e-security standards. Are you buying with someone else? There are two main ways of sharing the ownership of a home. You can have a joint tenancy where you own the home together and if one person dies the others take over the ownership this is the way most couples own a home together. Or you can have a tenancy in common, where you each own a share and can leave your share to anyone you wish in your Will this is more common when there are several owners. Another option is a property sharing agreement. Your lawyer will advise you on the best way to set things up for your situation. What types of ownership are there? Most people buy a freehold home, but there are quite a few different ways to own a home. Freehold this is the most common type of ownership. It means you own the land and house with virtually no restrictions on your ownership rights. The term freehold is also commonly used to mean that you don t owe any money on the home. Leasehold with this type of ownership you lease the land and pay rent to the landowner. You own the house but your use of the land may be restricted, and the rent can go up. You can sell the lease if you want to move, but you may need to tell the landowner first. Cross-lease this is where there are several homes on a piece of land and all the owners own the land together. Each owner leases the land their home is on from the others for a small cost. Unit title you own or lease your unit but common areas (like stairways and parking) are managed by the body corporate. Company title if you buy a flat with company title, you buy shares that give you the right to live there. The company administers and maintains the block of flats. Licence to occupy with this type of ownership you don t actually own the land or buildings, but you have a right to live there for life. This is the most common type of ownership for retirement villages.
18 34 35 Protecting your finances Here are some of the ways Westpac can help make sure that even if things go wrong at least you or those you love won t miss out. Would you like to know more? If you d like to know more about our insurances just ask at your branch or call What insurance do I need? Flexicover home loan insurance Flexicover can help repay your home loan if you die, can t work because you become terminally ill or totally disabled, are made redundant or are bankrupted. You only ever pay for the cover you need because your premiums adjust to match your home loan balance. Flexicover is only for Westpac home loan customers for home, contents and vehicle insurance for our other insurances. The information about these insurances is very brief and general. Terms, conditions, exclusions and limits apply to all applications for insurance. Insuring your home and contents Having house insurance protects your investment and is a condition of your home loan. Here s how Westpac can help. Home Cover for your home We can insure your home in case it s accidentally damaged including by fire, water, natural disaster or in a burglary. You can choose replacement cover based on the size of your home or cover up to an agreed amount. It also covers extra costs such as temporary accommodation, landscaping, extra home loan payments (if your loan is with us), even lost rent if you re a landlord. Is your home secure? Preventing problems is the best insurance you can have. Here are a few simple tips for after you move into your new home install smoke detectors have a hose handy outside have a small fire extinguisher inside Disability Cover income protection Disability Income Cover can provide an income if you can t work because you are totally disabled by illness or accident. Any replacement income is based on a percentage of your usual income, and is normally reduced by the amount you get from other sources such as ACC. Term Cover life insurance Term Cover can provide a lump sum when you or your family need it most if you die or become terminally ill. You can also include Crisis Cover, so you re insured if you become critically ill with certain health conditions. Contents Cover for your belongings We can insure the contents of your home and other personal belongings in case they re stolen, lost or accidentally damaged. Just about everything is covered. Many major items can be replaced no matter how old they are. You re covered for lots of extras too like replacement keys, items used for a home business, and even some overseas travel. We can also insure your vehicles and boat. Save on premiums if your home is insured with us you can save money on your contents and vehicle insurances. check storm water and other drains fit good quality locks get to know your neighbours keep bushes near the home trimmed have outdoor lights with sensors use timers on inside lights if you re out make sure garages and sheds lock up consider installing an alarm.
19 36 37 Selling your home Are you selling for the first time or has it been a while? We ve tried to cover the main things you ll want to know and think about before you put your home on the market. Selling may not even be the best option! You ll find plenty of useful advice in this section to help you make the right choices and get the best price. 38 Where do I start? Selling your home may not be your best option here we cover some other options including keeping it as an investment. 42 What is my home really worth? Pricing your home can be hard. You don t want to put people off or undersell here are some ways to check the value first. 43 How can I get a better price? Practical suggestions will help you present your home at its very best and get the best price possible. 44 How do I go about selling? We cover the three different ways to sell and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each. 47 Selling through an agent The agent works for you so here s some helpful information about listing and questions to ask the agent first. 48 Selling privately Here are some things to consider if you want to do-it-yourself.
20 38 39 Selling your home Is it a good time to sell? It s a sellers market when there are plenty of willing buyers competing to buy homes and the prices are rising. It s a buyers market when things are a bit slow and buyers can afford to be choosey and negotiate harder. If the market is booming, it s a good time to sell, but it could be harder to buy at a good price. You probably won t want to leave too much gap between selling and buying again, or you could get caught out by fast rising prices. When the market is slower, it can be harder to sell your home for the price you want. You might want to think about buying the new home you want, but keeping the old one as an investment until the market picks up again. We can help you work out if this might be an affordable option for you. Of course these are very general comments and there are many things that can affect the market for your home, such as what s happening with interest rates, developments in your area, special features about your home and even the seasons. Spring and summer months are often preferred for selling because homes are warmer and lighter, gardens look better and any problems with damp or leaks are less evident. Try to avoid having to sell It s best if you don t have to sell in a hurry. So if you re making an offer on another home, give yourself plenty of time to sell. And make your offer conditional on your home selling at a price acceptable to you. If you can t sell by the date set and don t want to miss out on the new home, ask your lender if you can get bridging finance (a shortterm interest only loan) to tide you over. If you re in a position where you think you may have to sell, it could be a good idea to put your home on the market sooner rather than later, to give yourself more time to find a buyer willing to pay the price you want. What are your options? Before you decide to sell, here are a few things to think about first could you get the home you want by renovating or extending instead? how much more will you have to pay to get the home you want can you afford it? would it be a good idea to keep your current home as a rental investment? if you re selling so you can retire do you have any other options? Talk with us about your plans to sell and we ll let you know about your options Should you do up or move? Selling and moving can be an expensive business. So if you like the area but the home no longer meets your needs, renovating or extending may be a good option instead of selling. On the plus side You save the cost of moving and selling your home. Estate agents fees could be up to 4% or more of the price you sell your home for and moving could cost you several thousand dollars. There s more about costs later on, and a list of costs in the guide Tool kit. On the other hand You need to be careful that you don t overcapitalise and spend more on your home than it s worth. If you alter your home would this make it better than other homes in your street or area? If the answer is yes, you may not get all your money back when it s time to sell. It s not for everyone Doing up a home is not for everyone. It can be hard living in a home during renovations, and if you have to move out for a while it can add quite a bit to the cost of the project. There s more about renovating in the Building and renovating section, and some advice on what may or may not add value to your home. What will it cost to move? The main costs you will have when you sell are the real estate fees and your moving costs. But you also need to be prepared to pay some one-off expenses for your new home, for instance if you need to make repairs or buy new appliances and furniture. Real estate fees The real estate agent is paid by the seller when the house sale becomes unconditional. The fees and costs can vary quite a bit from company to company. Some companies charge a base fee plus a commission based on how much your home sells for. Others charge just a commission and some charge a fixed fee no matter what your home sells for. Base fees are usually around $500 plus GST. Commissions usually start at about % (plus GST) of the sale price, but may work out less for more expensive homes or you may be able to negotiate a fixed fee. You may also have other costs such as advertising (which you pay even if the home doesn t sell). You may be able to get a better deal, especially if you sign up with just one agency, so be prepared to talk with several agents and negotiate the fee. However, the fee is not the only thing you should think about. There s more about this later on page 47. Moving costs and insurance Moving costs vary considerably. You could expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $3,000 to move within the same town or city. It also depends on how much of the packing you will do yourself. Most contents insurance policies don t automatically cover your belongings during a move, so you ll probably need to ask your insurer to give you extra cover for the day. Or the moving company may be able to provide the cover. If you re planning to do any of the packing or moving yourself, it would pay to check what the insurance will cover. Selling your home Where do I start?
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