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Be aware that some of the new rules under the Unitary Plan are already being applied when people are seeking consent to build on or develop land.

One important example is that there are now a substantial number of sites, including seemingly standard residential properties, throughout Greater Auckland that have recently been deemed ‘sites of significance’ or ‘sites of value’ to Mana Whenua.

What does this mean for you?

Case study: During the process of assisting a client in its development plans, it was revealed that as part of its resource consent, the client will now need to engage with local Mana Whenua for their approval and also invite them to oversee the excavation work for the development when only a few months ago this was not necessary. 

A potentially costly and worrying complication.

The client purchased the bare land several months ago and at the time of their purchase they checked with the Council for any information on the property file and there was nothing unusual noted. 

Since the purchase however, a plan change has been notified under the new Unitary Plan which now makes the property a ‘site of value to Mana Whenua’. 

If you are considering undertaking any type of property development or building, we urge you to check the property on the Auckland Council Unitary Plan GIS viewer which shows how the unitary plan will affect your property.

Even if you are buying a section in a residential subdivision that already has a number of properties completed, this does not mean you can assume that your Council consent process will be as straightforward, because the other properties would likely not have been affected by these new changes.

You can check how the unitary plan is going to affect your property here.

If you would like to discuss your property development plans with us,
feel free to contact us




If you have been looking for the perfect home for a while now but are finding that the choices range from grotty "DIY dream" do-ups to pricey places that fall short of your dream, then perhaps it’s time to look at a different approach.

Build, and you can have a home that is customised to your life!

From personal experience; build and you can get a large, brand new home in a good suburban area for the same price as a tiny, do-up unit in Auckland central. Plus it’s an exciting experience that you won’t forget.

So what are some of the pros of building rather than buying an existing dwelling?...

Building new is more than a viable option
Opinion piece by Marc King
Business Development Manager at Key2, New Property Specialists

Building a new home offers a wide range of advantages for you and your family. Here are just a few:

• Choice/Selection/Personalisation: This is the biggest investment you will ever make, so ask yourself, "Why not have my home, my way?"

• Less maintenance: New homes have brand new operating systems, like plumbing, heat pumps, appliances, etc and usually don't require maintenance until years down the road.

• Energy efficient: With the application of new technology such as double glazing, new homes are typically somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40% more energy-efficient!

• Modern convenience and comfort: Face it, your time is valuable. Would you rather spend your weekends doing maintenance – or enjoying your new home? New homes have the latest new appliances, new windows, and new product technologies. With a brand new home, you can experience the benefits of owning items that require little maintenance, while providing you more comfort – so you can enjoy every aspect of your home.

• Built to current codes: Building to current building standards provides an extra layer of protection to ensure that your homes are safe, durable, and meet local building codes especially designed for your area.

• Storage space: In addition to the typically more open floor plans found in newer homes, older homes don’t usually have the closet or storage space offered by a newer design.

• Warranty: You can have peace of mind with manufacturers' warranties for appliances, doors, windows, heat pumps, etc that were all built to last. Most new homes come with a ten (10) year warranty on structural items, backed by nationally recognized Master Builders or Certified Builders.

• Healthier indoor environment: New homes have healthier indoor air quality and can improve your family’s health, especially if they have issues with asthma or allergies. For example, many modern carpets are allergy-free.

• Price: A new home is often no more than a used home and, in the long run, you’ll save $ on energy bills, operating costs, and maintenance while you live there!

• Enhanced electrical systems for today’s lifestyles: With the significant increase in our reliance on technology in the home we need our homes to be able to cope with those demands. Many of the electrical systems found in older homes are simply not sophisticated enough to handle today’s modern technology.

The fact that you are the only person who has ever lived in this home creates a special feeling of pride; it’s yours and yours alone…built for you…to your specifications. ENJOY!!

According to our City Council, its draft Unitary Plan will ensure that Auckland "can meet its economic and housing growth needs, and help its centres meet their real potential, while protecting and enhancing what already makes the region great."

But in practical terms, what does this actually mean for you, your home and your business?


To (briefly) put the Plan into context, it's the new rule book for all things property. It is an integral part of Auckland's goal to become "the world's most liveable city" within the next 30 years, and, in its simplest terms, will determine what can be built and where.

All professionals involved in every aspect of property - lawyers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, planning advisers, developers - need to be conversant with the Plan in order to guide our clients around the minefields and towards the hitherto hidden treasures.

Crucially, the new "rural-urban boundary" changes will mean that some land which was previously not sub-dividable can now be developed.

For most Aucklanders, this is the key fact which you need to be aware of, especially if you're thinking of selling your property. Why? Because if the designation of your land is going to change in the near future, and if, unbeknownst to you, the plot will be sub-dividable, your price expectations may be on the conservative side…

The Plan affects many other aspects of development too, of course:

• More intensified development of certain areas
• New business development or intensification in areas
• Improved public transport and new roads
• Infrastructure development, such as storm water drainage
• The protection of historic heritage
• Provision for rural activities
• Maintaining the marine environment

Angela Goodwin from Potentialis Planning and Resource Management (www.potentialis.co.nz) is a specialist in the rules that apply to a property's development potential:

“It is vitally important to understand Council's rules when purchasing a property. Rules in the Unitary Plan and Council's existing 'rulebooks” determine how the neighbourhood you are buying into might change in the future. They tell you whether new roads and infrastructure may be built beside the property, whether an apartment building or childcare centre could pop up next door and how close your neighbours can build to your boundary. Understanding the rules that apply to a property you want to purchase lets you know what to expect so that you can make an informed purchase.

Understanding the rules also helps you determine whether the property is a good investment and whether you could develop the property to further increase its potential. Put simply, understanding Councils rules is the difference between a new property fulfilling your dreams (whether that's a dream house to live in or a great investment) or causing bitter disappointment and hassle. Avoid unpleasant surprises and check the rules before your purchase.”

A quick glance at the Council's website shows just how complex and detailed Auckland's Unitary Plan is. That's why we're here, to translate the codes and Council-speak into plain English and to help you identify the potential opportunities or threats.

To learn exactly how you're affected by the Plan contact Felicity or Stacey.
The first THREE respondents will receive a free unitary plan assessment and advice in respect of a residential or commercial property.

Buying a home can be a stressful and costly business. Indeed, as NZ Herald reporter Stephen Hart lately observed in his article "Revealed: Hidden Costs of First Home", "There's nothing romantic or magical these days about buying your first home. In fact, it's difficult not to come away from the process feeling bloodied, cynical, bitter and poorer."*

So that the property experience for buyers, sellers and real estate agents runs as smoothly as possible, it's vital that all parties have access to all the information they need in a timely and cost-effective manner.

That's why The Property Practice Lawyers designed the TLC Report service. A TLC Report contains an explanation of all the legal details about a property in one cost-effective, easy-to-read document. So if you are:

• Buying a home, and want to check that it's "legally in order"

• Selling a property and want to get the best price you can, more bidders at auction or an offer for your property with fewer conditions , or

• An agent wanting to provide accurate legal information to prospective purchasers about a property and minimise your risk exposure,

Then our TLC Report service could prove invaluable. Click here to read more.

*You can read Stephen's complete article here.

Are you considering setting up a trust (or continuing with a trust) in order to protect your family home? Is your primary motivation for doing so to avoid paying for rest home fees in the future?

If you've answered "yes", then you need to carefully consider your actions. Recent legal and political trends in the way family trusts are treated have raised the question of whether it's worthwhile having a trust for this purpose. Contrary to popular belief, the answer in many cases is probably not.


Depending on people’s particular circumstances, trusts are still a valid legal structure to hold assets, and historically there have been a number of different reasons for establishing a trust. One major reason for the significant growth in use of Trusts in recent years is a desire to keep assets out of reach of the government in the event of elderly requiring rest home care subsidies.

However, with the abolition of gift duty in 2011, the aging population and the arguably cash-strapped state of government coffers, times are a-changing in terms of judicial and political attitude towards how trusts are regarded.

Until fairly recently, it was lawyers' understanding that the government department which assesses people for rest home subsidies – the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) – would generally only look back a maximum of 5 years in terms of asset gifting to a family trust. However, decisions over the last 2 years indicate fairly clearly that the MSD’s view now is that it may legitimately disregard any asset gifting made to a family trust, regardless of the amount or when it was made. In two recent cases, the MSD went back 20 years or longer in assessing what the personal assets of the applicants should be.

In essence, any transfer of assets to a family trust maybe considered "deprivation of assets" (and therefore reversible) and although the reasoning of the MSD is less than clear in these cases, the trend is towards the view that all asset transfers to trusts can potentially be disregarded.

In these specific cases, the family trusts had significant assets over and above just the family home, however many of the family trusts that we see on a daily basis own just the family home and so just how the MSD might treat this kind of situation is uncertain. To illustrate, the following problematic situation could easily arise: If Partner X needs rest home care but Partner Y still lives in the family home, Partner Y could find himself out on his ear if it is deemed by the MSD that the couple’s family trust is liable to meet the rest home costs. This is because the family home won’t quality as an “exempt asset” under the legislation if it is owned by the family trust rather than personally by Partner Y.

A better solution in this type of situation might be to actually wind up the family trust and transfer the family home into the personal ownership of the couple as separate half shares, (or re-settle the family home into the ownership of two separate trusts) with a contracting-out agreement used to evidence the separate ownership of the assets, and the use of life-interests in each of the partner’s Wills. In the event of one partner dying and the surviving partner requiring rest home care, or a partner requiring rest home care whilst the other partner remains in the family home, there is a higher probability of being able to protect at least one half of the value of the family home.

We realise that this is probably quite alarming and disappointing news to people who have been advised for some years to transfer the family home into the traditional joint family trust structure, and who have gone to the effort and expense of carrying out gifting over many years in order to protect their major asset.

Please remember that everyone’s circumstances are different, so a trust may still be the right structure for you. If you're in any doubt at all, please contact us.

According to QV, the latest monthly property value index shows that nationwide residential property values increased further in December according to the latest monthly property value index. Values are up 3.0% over the past three months, 10.0% up over the past year, and 12.5% above the previous market peak of late 2007.

Nationwide values are likely to increase only modestly this year, but that will probably be as a result of everywhere outside of Auckland slowing while the Auckland market itself will continue to increase.


Congratulations to Kasey Potter who has won our Polaroid competition!

Thanks everyone who got involved and shared our Facebook page, as well as for the positive feedback about our website. We love you!


This year’s winners of the Registered Master Builders House of the Year Competition 2013 have been announced & some of them are just spectacular! Check them out here.

Ever thought you’d like to build your own dream home but put it in the 'too-hard' basket? 

I know from personal experience having built twice now how daunting it can seem, especially the money and finance aspects however if you connect with the right service providers, it can make the process a lot easier. 

For instance, if the complications around finance are the main factors deterring you, check out ‘New Build’. They are specialists in build finance & offer ‘fully project managed’ finance taking all the stress out of it. They can sometimes even arrange things so you only need a 5% deposit, you don’t have to get progress valuations on the property throughout the build, and you don’t have to pay any mortgage payments until the house is finished.

Given all the publicity at the moment about unaffordability of houses, we decided to draw your attention to the Smarter Small Home Show home based at 49 Gt South Road, Papakura. This caught our eye when we were driving past purely for its good looks but it is also affordable, sustainable with top energy rating and has been designed to maximise space whilst minimising footprint allowing for more outdoor space on smaller sections.

An idyllic section on Waiheke (there are quite a few of these available at the moment within walking distance of Oneroa Beach) with one of these plonked on it as opposed to what the alternative could buy you in central Auckland!? Not a bad alternative…. Read more about it and see photos here. We understand that the 112 square metre version comes in at just under $200k.


We’ve got a brand new Polaroid camera with carry case and film and a bottle of Champers to give away to the person who scores us the most ‘likes’ on our Facebook page.

We were going to give away a free Will as a prize but that doesn’t have the same sort of appeal… So ask all your friends to ‘like’ our page and we’ll announce the winner of our competition as soon as we can!

DISCLAIMER: This information is given as a guide only. All information in this website is to author’s knowledge true and accurate. No liability is assumed by the authors, or publishers, for any losses suffered by any person relying directly or indirectly upon the information contained in this website. It is recommended that you consult a representative of The Property Practice Ltd before acting upon this information.