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Buying a property in New Zealand

Whether you're moving to NZ or searching for an investment property, here's what you need to know about buying a property across the ditch.

If you're an Australian citizen, buying a property in New Zealand is easier than you might think. But from housing market conditions to fees and taxes that apply, there's a lot to consider before purchasing a property in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of buying a house in New Zealand.

What is the New Zealand housing market like?

The New Zealand property market reached a price peak in November 2021, with near-zero interest rates during the pandemic driving prices skywards. Things have changed markedly since then, however, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raising its official cash rate to a 14-year high of 5.5% in May 2023.

With the rising cost of living and falling consumer confidence, not to mention the impact of extreme weather events like Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023, the NZ housing market has experienced a significant downturn. According to data from REINZ, as of April 2023, the national median house price in New Zealand is $780,000.

However, prices vary markedly depending on where you want to buy, ranging from NZ$379,000 on the South Island's West Coast to NZ$995,000 in Auckland. Check out the table below for a guide to median property prices in different regions around the country.

RegionApril 2023 Median house price in NZDAnnual change
Auckland$995,000-15%
Northland$675,000-9.4%
Bay of Plenty$824,500-7.9%
Gisborne$650,000-5.1%
Hawkes Bay$750,000-2.6%
Manawatu-Whanganui$556,000-4.1%
Wellington$797,000-14.3%
Taranaki$568,000-9.1%
Waikato$750,000-12.8%
Nelson$693,000-9.4%
Marlborough$617,500-19.2%
Canterbury$660,000-2.9%
Otago$680,000+3.2%
Southland$424,000-6.4%
West Coast$379,000+8.6%
Tasman$780,000-13.3%

Who can buy a property in New Zealand?

New Zealand has regulations in place to restrict international investors who want to buy residential property, so can Australians buy property in NZ? Happily, the answer is yes. If you're an Australian citizen, you don't need to apply to the Overseas Investment Office to get permission to buy residential property in NZ.

But there are restrictions on buying property on "sensitive land", such as on an island or next to a national park. Different rules also apply to permanent residents of Australia who are not ordinarily resident in NZ, so it's worth checking the relevant rules for your situation.

NZ Immigration offers a handy online tool you can use to work out whether you're eligible to buy a property in NZ. Use it to find out exactly where you stand before taking any further steps.

6 steps to buying a property in New Zealand from Australia

If you're eligible and ready to buy a property in NZ from Australia, here's what you need to do:

  1. Set your budget. Decide how much you're willing to spend when buying a house in New Zealand from Australia. If you'll be taking out a mortgage, check the latest interest rates in NZ and remember to factor borrowing costs into your calculations.
  2. Choose a location. The next step is to work out where you want to buy a property. Research the market to find out suitable destinations, and consider factors such as the types of properties available, the median price in the region and the average rent. At this point, it's often worth getting in touch with a real estate agent or a broker to help you find the right location and guide you through the process of buying a property in New Zealand.
  3. Find the right property. Whether you're buying a standalone house, an apartment or a townhouse, it's essential to get it independently inspected to make sure it's structurally sound and doesn't have any major issues. A conveyancer or lawyer can also help you complete each step of the buying process, such as carrying out a title check and accessing the property's Land Information Memorandum (LIM).
  4. Secure financing. Unless you're paying the full price for the property outright, it's now time to secure financing approval. If your current Australian bank also operates in NZ, it'll probably be your first port of call for a mortgage. Alternatively, you might want to reach out to an NZ mortgage broker to help you navigate the local lending market and find financing. Getting pre-approved can also strengthen your position when negotiating with the seller.
  5. Make an offer. When you're sure the property ticks all the boxes, it's time to make an offer. If it's accepted, your lawyer can review the sale and purchase agreement before you sign. Settlement typically takes 4-6 weeks, but it can be longer in some cases.
  6. Transfer money. The final step is to transfer money overseas to pay the purchase price. You could use your bank, but you'll generally find a better exchange rate and lower fees if you use a specialist money transfer company. Some providers even waive their fees on large transfers, so shop around for the best value.

Things to consider when buying a property in New Zealand

While Aussies and Kiwis have a lot in common, there are also plenty of differences between our two countries. Make sure you consider the following factors when buying a property across the ditch:

  • Cost of housing. In Domain's March 2023 House Price Report, the median house price was $1.45 million in Sydney, $1.02 million in Melbourne, and $805,000 in Brisbane. Compare that to the housing market in NZ, where the median price in the most expensive city of Auckland is NZ$995,000 (approximately AUD$925,000).
  • Cost of living. According to data from Numbeo, the cost of living (excluding rent) in NZ is 8.3% lower than in Australia. Of course, costs can vary widely depending on whether you're living in a major city like Auckland or a rural area.
  • Healthcare system. Just like Australia, NZ has its own universal healthcare system. Citizens and residents can access free and subsidised healthcare, and you can expect a similar standard of care to what you would receive in Australia.
  • Get it inspected. When buying a property overseas, you may not get a chance to inspect it in person. But even if you do get a chance to tour the property before making an offer, make sure you get a building inspection from a licensed building inspector. There are also specific risks to watch out for in certain areas, such as earthquake damage in the Canterbury region.
  • Compare your transfer options. Buying a property is a big purchase, so even a small difference in the exchange rate when you make an international payment can make a big difference to the cost of buying a property in NZ. That's why it's important to look past your bank and compare specialist money transfer providers before sending money overseas.

Taxes and fees when buying a property in New Zealand

The close economic relationship between Australia and NZ helps ensure that your tax obligations when you own property in NZ are relatively easy to manage.

Not only can Aussies take out mortgages in NZ, but you'll also only need to pay tax in Australia on any rental income you receive from a NZ investment property. Just like with an investment property in Australia, you can claim expenses such as borrowing costs, maintenance and repairs as tax deductions.

If you sell the property and trigger a capital gain, NZ doesn't have capital gains tax (CGT). You will, however, need to pay CGT in Australia.

Finally, while there is no stamp duty or land tax to worry about, there are other fees you'll need to consider. The good news is that if you've bought property in Australia before, you'll be familiar with the sort of costs you can expect. These include conveyancing and legal fees, which start at approximately NZ$1,500, plus mortgage establishment fees, property valuation and building inspection costs.

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