17 Dec 2015

Hints for house hunters

11:05 am on 17 December 2015

Soaring prices, interest rates, loan-to-value ratios, foreign buyers, and changes to the tax rules - it has been a perplexing period for home buyers.

House hunter Laurie Gallen (left) and Kate Pereyra Gracia (right).

House hunter Laurie Gallen, left, and RNZ reporter Kate Pereyra Garcia. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

But affordability is not the only thing complicating things: the way would-be buyers look for homes is also changing rapidly.

Laurie Gallen and his wife Karen have been hunting for the perfect Wellington home for almost a year.

He said nothing could replace a good working relationship with an agent. But he checks real estate websites daily and his wife has downloaded the phone apps.

The listings they trawl are long: "On Trade Me, through the newspaper, through the magazines, the real estate magazines, and also we're in touch with the real estate agents as well... we look through the Tommys site, I guess just about every day."

Trade Me head of property Nigel Jeffries said 3D walk-throughs, videos and accessing information on mobile devices were becoming the norm.

He said high resolution photos were also important, particularly the first three shown.

Wellington real estate agent Nicki Cruickshank said home buyers now wanted more information about a property before they even visited.

But she said people should not rule out a potential house without going to see it.

"The feel when you get in the house is different, some people are trying to read too much into photos and information."

Ms Cruickshank said more than 60 percent of buyers find properties on the internet or through social media.

But the general manager of the Property Press, Pat Houlihan, said its latest survey showed more than 800,000 people read the free glossy magazine each week.

And he denied people were moving online at the expense of printed house listings.

The five things every house hunter should consider (according to the experts):

Location, location, location

The location of a house and the amount of sun it gets are the two things you can't change about a property. Make sure it's near the amenities you desire and check out the price range in the area.


A hundred year old cottage, art deco, modern; what style of house do you want? And a doer upper or move in ready? Have a wishlist, but be realistic, which takes us to...


Be reasonable and stick to your budget. Remember you will have to meet mortgage repayments. And there'll be other costs to home ownership too including rates, insurance, maintenance... it all adds up.

Set an alert

Websites such as Trade Me and RealEstate.co.nz allow you to set favourite searches and they'll alert you when something meeting your criteria comes on the market. It's particularly important in areas where demand is greater than supply.

Don't rush

Take your time to find what you want at a price you can afford. But if you've been hunting for years and haven't seen anything in your price range, perhaps reset your expectations.