Buying your first home is exciting but it can also be quite overwhelming with lots of words being thrown at you that you don’t quite understand. As a house purchase is likely to be one of the largest investments you make, it is important that you are fully informed when starting the home buying process.
When my husband and I purchased our first home we were nervous and a little unsure of what was to come. Once we had worked our way through making an offer, working through our conditions and ending up at settlement day, picking up the keys to our first home is still one of our greatest memorys. I’m a young first home buyer and in this article I am going to break down some of the keys things I wish I had known/think other first home buyers should know.
1. Chat to the professionals
Once you are thinking about buying your first house, it is a really good idea to chat to your lawyer and bank/broker early on in the process. Having a strong team of professionals backing you from the get-go will ensure that the process is less stressful overall.
Your bank will be able to talk through the finance side of things with you to determine how much you can afford. They will also be able to work with you to determine if you are eligible for a KiwiSaver first home withdrawal or a HomeStart Grant. Your bank might also have special conditions that they need you to fulfil before they give an unconditional offer of finance. It is a good idea to find out what these conditions are (preferably in writing from the bank) and chat to your lawyer about them as early as possible. Common conditions that we would see include the bank receiving and being satisfied with a registered valuation or a builder’s report and having confirmation that your Kiwisaver funds are available for use. If you are purchasing in Canterbury, they may also wish to see all documentation relating to any earthquake claims associated with the property.
Contacting your lawyer early on means that you can get a better idea of what the process is going to look like and what you should be looking out for when you do find the right place. We would always suggest that you chat to your lawyer before you put an offer in on a property (sign a Sale and Purchase Agreement) as that way your lawyer can ensure that all the conditions are in your offer that need to be there.
2. Be prepared for extra costs
It is important to bear in mind that you will be putting more money into your purchase than just the purchase price. There will be additional fees such as your lawyer’s fees and builder’s fees if you choose to get a building report done. There are also extra fees that your lawyer will need to pay to Land Information New Zealand to transfer the title to the property into your name and register a mortgage and also to the local Council for ordering a LIM report.
3. There will be deadlines
There will be certain deadlines in your Sale and Purchase Agreement that you need to be aware of. Often, once you have signed your offer you will have 10-20 working days (about 2 to 4 weeks) to work through your due diligence and satisfy all your conditions. It is important to note that if you don’t meet the deadlines, the Vendor (the person selling the house) will have the option to cancel the Agreement on you.
Your lawyer will be able to advise you of the deadlines and will work with you ensure that the deadlines are met or that an extension is requested where needed.
4. Set time aside for meetings and phone calls
You should be aware that you will need to put time into getting things across the line. Your lawyer will be putting in a lot of work behind the scenes but there are certain things that they can’t do without you.
Signing KiwiSaver Withdrawal Documents
If you are looking to withdraw your KiwiSaver funds you will need to meet with your lawyer to sign some documents which they will then send away to your KiwiSaver provider. If you can’t meet with your lawyer to sign the documents, you will be able to do this with a local Justice of the Peace.
Phone Calls and Emails
While you are working through your purchase conditions, you will likely need to talk with various people. For example, if you are obtaining a builder’s report, you will need to arrange this with a builder and review the report that they send through. Likewise, you will need to talk about your bank/broker about finalising finance and with your lawyer as you work through the various conditions.
Prior to settlement your bank will send your lawyer some loan documents which will need to be signed in order for your bank to pay out your loan on settlement. There will also be a couple of other documents that your lawyer will need to sign with you before they can transfer the title to the property into your name(s). These documents can normally all be signed in the same meeting.
5. Get excited!
If you are reading this article then congratulations on getting this far in the home buying process. Buying a house is a big deal and it will be a great feeling picking up the keys to your new home.
This article is not a substitute for legal advice and you should contact your lawyer about your specific situation. Our property team at Parry Field Lawyers love helping first home buyers into their first homes. We explain things to you in an easy to understand way and are here every step of the way to answer your questions. For more information, contact us on 03-348-8480 or by emailing Paul Owens – firstname.lastname@example.org, Judith Bullin – email@example.com or Luke Hayward – firstname.lastname@example.org