TIPS

Property Related Tips

Thoroughly check the property

Get the appropriate checks done on a property! Buying a house is a big financial investment. It is important to establish that there aren’t any hidden problems and at the very least, it is worthwhile to speak with your lawyer before purchasing. Depending on the type of property or how complicated the details of the property are, there may well be certain aspects that can be checked at minimal cost, which could save you a lot of hassle in the long run and give you peace of mind.

Sun

Consider the direction that the property faces, which rooms will get sun, or are obscured by other properties, trees or land formations.

Fundamentals

Engage a builder to inspect the property, or at the very least make sure that you check fundamental aspects to ensure that the property is reasonably sound such as the structural integrity, the piles and floorboards (if applicable), the roof/guttering and all steps and decking. Check the state of the wiring and heating system (hot water cylinder etc), the state of the driveway and around the windows and doors for signs of rot or warping and keep an eye out for any signs of leaks inside and out. You might also want to check the water pressure and that the appliances work. You can always ask the agent to verify this if you are uncertain.

Renovations

Don't be fooled by a recent renovation or redecoration designed to mask the flaws of a property. A property that is in its original state means you're not paying for someone else's "improvements" - which might add to the price but not the longer term value.

Comparing sales prices in your area

The Quotable Value website (www.qv.co.nz) has a number of inexpensive reports that you can order if you are trying to assess how much a particular property might be worth to either sell or buy. For example, you can order a “Local Area Sales” Report where you can obtain a report detailing sales of properties within a certain radius of your property.

Information about Auckland

“Where to Live in Auckland” (www.wheretoliveinauckland.co.nz) is a book that gives helpful information about the features and statistics of different suburbs in Auckland and is particularly useful for overseas based purchasers who may be new to Auckland.

Auckland Council website resources

On the Auckland Council’s website, www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, under “Property Information”, you can order a LIM Report.

This is also where the GIS Viewer property mapping software is available for anybody to use. You can locate the aerial view of a property and obtain information about its Rateable Value/Capital Value, rates, legal description, lot size, and zoning information.

Government websites

There is a whole variety of property information on various Government websites such as www.dbh.govt.nz and www.consumerbuild.org.nz . If you are a landlord or tenant, property developer, building a house or moving into a retirement village, it is worthwhile perusing these sites for information that could potentially assist you.

Getting lawyer involved

Getting your lawyer involved as early into a transaction as possible can save a lot of stress and money in the long run.

Kiwisaver funds

Kiwisaver funds can only be accessed on the morning of settlement when they are paid directly into your lawyer’s trust account. This means that you cannot use these funds for your deposit, a common assumption people make that is not correct.

Finance pre-approval implications

If you have obtained pre-approval of finance to a certain level of borrowing, this does not mean that you have an unconditional finance offer. A bank may well still impose conditions in relation to any specific property such as requesting that you obtain a registered valuation for a property to verify its market value.

Confirming finance condition satisfied

Make sure your offer of finance from a bank does not have any remaining conditions to be meet before you confirm your finance condition satisfied in relation to your purchase.

How much to borrow

Don’t over-stretch yourself by borrowing more than you can afford to service in interest charges, not just now but longer term. There are always unanticipated costs that crop up in owning a property. Don’t forget to include costs for house and contents insurance, rates and maintenance costs in calculating how much you can afford to borrow.

Discussing status of conditions with the real estate agent

If you are a purchaser, remember that the real estate agent represents the seller, not you. If you are in the situation of your lawyer having requisitioned the seller’s solicitor for a defect to be remedied under one of the conditions in the agreement, communicate with your lawyer rather than the real estate agent about this as it may compromise your legal position.

Unit Titled properties

If you are purchasing a property that is part of a multi-unit development, then it is likely to be governed by the Unit Titles Act (also known as “body corporate”). It is important (amongst other things) that you obtain and read through the Minutes of the Body Corporate meetings for at least 2 years prior to check that there aren’t any significant problems/issues with the development and to check that the development operates in a functional manner.

Finance conditions for new builds

It is important that the timing of the conditions in your building contract are synchronised with the conditions contained in your finance offer. Make sure you send any building contract to your lawyer before you sign it to ensure that at the very least, these sorts of fundamental issues are dealt with. You don’t want to be in the situation of being legally committed to a builder but unable to obtain finance for the build.

Pre-settlement inspection

If you are purchasing, the pre-settlement inspection needs to be done as early as possible; preferably 2 days before settlement at the latest. This is because if there is a problem, it is not legally permissible to withhold any funds on the day of settlement (pending fixing of the problem) to enable settlement to proceed. Any negotiation in this regard must be done at least the day before settlement date.

Setting up a trust

Currently, this area of law is experiencing some changes and whether it is worthwhile creating a trust to protect assets will depend on your particular circumstances. A cost/benefit analysis should be applied in conjunction with a thorough discussion with your lawyer.

Administration of family trusts

As a result of recent court cases and the abolition of gift duty, it is becoming extremely important that family trusts be administered properly to ensure that the trust is not vulnerable in the event of any challenge to its status. There are several fundamental aspects that should be adhered to, one being that all trusts should have an independent trustee.

Shared ownership of property

Disputes between parties who own property together are common. Where you own property with another person or people, entering into a property sharing agreement which sets out agreed procedures around how the property will be managed, can be a relatively low-cost way to ensure that conflict and potential deadlock and lengthy legal battles are avoided.

Real estate agents

If you are selling, shop around for a real estate agent with a good track record in selling property in your price range and who knows the area. It is important that you feel comfortable with and trust the agent you choose. It is perfectly acceptable to ask several agents to provide appraisals for your property.

Determining your tax status for subdivision

If you’re considering undertaking a subdivision, even if it’s the first and only subdivision you intend to do and you’ve owned the property for some time, it is absolutely vital that you take advice from an accountant and a lawyer to determine whether you would be liable for income tax on the profits from the subdivision and include this in your assessment of the viability of the project.

LEASING TIPS

Security for landlords

Traditionally, landlords have requested personal guarantees from directors/shareholders of limited liability company tenants. With the considerable degree of asset protection in NZ through trusts and other types of protective structures as well as a more volatile economic climate in recent times, it is increasingly common for landlords to request other forms of security such as a monetary bond from a tenant.

Importance of lease for business purchase

The value of many businesses inherently relies on having a secure lease in place with terms that are acceptable and yet people purchasing businesses sometimes overlook the importance of thoroughly checking this aspect. It is vital that you obtain all of the lease documentation as soon as possible and have your lawyer check carefully through it.

BUSINESS

Business and property owning structures

Choosing the right business or property-owning structure can have a huge impact on your protection from personal and financial liability.  It is best to talk to your lawyer and accountant about this as early on in a transaction as possible.

Recording business practices

Clearly post and report your company’s disclaimers, policies and business practices. If you want customers and employees to be happy, you have the responsibility of ensuring that they understand in advance your policies.  If information is hidden, too long, or impossible to read it is not helping your business and may not even offer you the protection you need.  Seek help from your lawyer to get your written policies right.

Terms of Business

Businesses are having to resort to formal enforcement of contracts more and more commonly. It is worthwhile for businesses to invest some time into ensuring that their commercial contracts with customers and third parties are sound, up to date and that the right procedures are in place to ensure that the documentation is used appropriately.

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.