1 bedroom homes in Auckland cost about $300,000 with homes outside of the city costing much less. Nationally, the average 2 bed flat in NZ costs (as of September 2006) less than NZ$200,000.
It is important to peruse available homes before buying. A good way to do that is to look for listings of "open homes". Anyone is welcome to look around an "open house" without making an appointment first. Visiting open homes is a great way to learn about the property market in your area. Another way to see lots of houses quickly is to go on a tour with a real estate agent. Agents are usually happy to spend an hour or two driving migrants around, hoping for a sale. Agents earn significant commissions on house sales so most are willing to show you plenty of houses.
Most New Zealand property is offered at a fixed asking price. It is normal to offer less than the asking price. Research comparable homes in the area to make an appropriate offer.
Another popular way of selling houses is by auction. Occasionally a bank forces an auction when borrowers cannot keep up with their mortgage payments. More often, auctions are used when sellers think buyers will bid the price up. Sellers pay extra fees for auctions and agents earn more money than fixed price sales. Even if a house doesn't sell, the seller still has to pay auction fees. For this reason, agents are often keen to persuade homeowners to sell by auction.
A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) is an extremely important document when buying a house. The LIM contains information from the local council about a property's zoning, boundaries, building consents, etc. For a copy of a LIM, local councils charge anywhere between $100 to $400. This is expensive, particularly if you do not buy the property. LIMs are also not fool-proof. They may contain unreliable information. Once you've got the LIM, it's a good idea to visit the local council's building department to discuss it. You can ask for any additional information they have on the property - often they have more than they've included in the LIM.
To learn even more about any house that interests you, you can pay a fee to the government's Quotable Value. For around $5, QV will tell you the prices other properties in the neighbourhood are selling for, For $4 they will report on how much a house sold for previously.
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