Can a Canadian buy a property in New Zealand?

New Zealand is a wonderful country with incredible natural scenery. This is why thousands of foreigners move there or buy property there. But there are restrictions on property ownership. So, can Canadians buy property in New Zealand?

Yes, a Canadian can buy a property in New Zealand. But the person will first need to be a resident of the country. There’s a property purchase ban for foreigners apart from Australians and Singaporeans. But once you’re eligible, the steps to become a homeowner in New Zealand are straightforward.

If eligible to buy a property in the country, there are factors to consider and the right approach to finding your chosen property. Here, discuss the key things to know about buying a home in New Zealand as a Canadian.

New Zealand Restrictions on Foreigners Buying Homes

In 2018, the New Zealand government banned foreigners from buying homes. This was due to the rising home prices in the country. However, foreign investors and wealthy individuals have taken an interest in New Zealand due to its natural environment. Since this category of people has more capital, they easily outbid residents for homes. This has led to more homes being owned by foreigners, especially in major places such as Auckland and Queenstown region. With the law, only residents of New Zealand can buy homes in the country. However, there are exceptions to this. The exemptions are:

  • Foreigners with New Zealand residency
  • Citizens of Australia and Singapore due to free trade agreements.
  • Foreigners can still invest in hotels and apartment blocks, although limited.

How to Buy Property in New Zealand as a Canadian

A Canadian who wants to buy a property in New Zealand would have to be a country resident. This will require you to get a resident visa. There are several ways to get this visa. It could be through an initial temporary work or study visa. Some visas will also grant residency immediately. There are several visa options, and you can visit the New Zealand Immigration website to see which you’re eligible for. Apart from becoming a resident, the other option is to try and get special authorization from the government. But the chances of this happening are slim.

Finding Property in New Zealand

If you’re eligible to buy a house in New Zealand, then you need to find the right property for you in the country. Doing this is quite easy due to the highly regulated real estate market. There are lots of ways to go about it, and they include:

1.   Using Real Estate agencies

Most property purchased in New Zealand involves an agent. While you can handle the whole process yourself, it’s not exactly advisable unless you have the time. However, even if you’ve been in the country for some time, having an agent still makes the process smoother and faster. In New Zealand, real estate agents have licenses. So, confirm that the agent you’re using has the proper credentials. You can also use the Real Estate Authority of New Zealand website to find an agent.

Using this right agent can help you avoid scams. In addition, there are consumer protection measures to ensure home buyers never have any problems. For example, it’s impossible to sell the property to another buyer after accepting an offer. The Real Estate Authority website also provides further guidance, and you can report any complaints about an agent there.

2.   Use Property Websites

You can also try using property websites to find properties you like or discover available property types. There are many property agents and platforms with a national reach. You can also check local listings if you already have a specific location in mind.

Factors To Consider When Buying Property in New Zealand

Here are some of the things you should have in mind when looking for properties:

1.   Type of property

Homes in New Zealand come in various types, and there are local phrasings for them. For example, properties in New Zealand are usually attached or standalone. Standalone properties are single-family homes and landed properties. The attached options include townhouses and apartments. New Zealanders call land ‘section.’ You can build your own house here, of course, but zoning laws might make this difficult.

2.   Condition of property

It’s important to know the condition of the property you’re buying. You can do this by inspecting the property and using a property inspection company. Beyond that, the seller might have also used a property inspection service to prepare a full report on the property. However, it’s advisable not to rely on this report alone as you may not have any cause of action if it turns out that the report was inaccurate.

3.   Documents

You also need to see the documents on the property to ensure due diligence. Essential documents include the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) and title report. You should also get the council files on the property to ensure it matches the original plan and there has been no unauthorized development.

4.   Cost of Property in New Zealand

The law restricting foreign ownership of property in New Zealand is because of the outrageous home prices in the country. Despite its small population and large land area, the price has increased due to demand. The median cost of a property in New Zealand as of July 2021 was NZ$826,000 (almost CAD700,000). While it’s lower in some cities, the cost of property is still very high.

Steps for buying a property in New Zealand as a Canadian

As a Canadian buying a property in New Zealand, you have to be a country resident. Once that is certain, and you’re eligible to buy a property in the country, here are basic steps to follow:

  • Determine your budget
  • Find a conveyancer or lawyer and property inspector
  • Research your options with an agent and possibly online
  • Do due diligence on the house to ensure it has all met all prerequisites
  • Make an offer for the property to get a sale and purchase agreement which your lawyer should go through. You may need to pay a deposit.
  • Meet all pre-settlement requirements and perform a final inspection
  • Pay the balance on the property.

In Conclusion

If you’re planning to buy a property in New Zealand as a Canadian, you’ll have to be a resident. However, once you’re a resident, the process for purchasing a property is quite straightforward.

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