Our house, in the middle of our street…

If you are a first home buyer (or not, for that matter), the experience of purchasing your own slice of paradise is one that you will always remember. There are a number of precautionary measures however, that it is advisable to take no matter how hard you fall for ‘the perfect house.’

It is important to make an appointment to see your lawyer before signing an agreement for sale and purchase so that your lawyer is able to ensure that you are satisfactorily protected in terms of contract law before you commit to such a significant undertaking.

Making the agreement conditional upon approval of title to the property is essential. There are a number of different types of ownership formats each with different complexities, such as fee simple, leasehold, cross lease and unit title, which need to be checked. This provision will also ensure that any easements, restrictive covenants or encumbrances registered against the title can be researched too.

It is nearly always advisable to make the agreement conditional upon your approval of a builder’s report, LIM, electrician’s report and plumber’s report in order to ascertain not only information about the structural integrity of the home, but also find out whether the home has all the necessary permits or code compliance certificates in terms of construction and alterations. These reports will show you important features to consider such as how the home is heated, whether the plumbing and drainage systems are working well, whether the wiring of the home is sound, and in the case of a LIM, what resource consents have been granted in the neighbourhood for activities that may affect your enjoyment of the new home. In the case of a builder’s report, you may request that a moisture test be undertaken so that you have a good idea about whether dampness may be an issue. Plumbers are now able to insert miniature cameras into underground sewer and storm water drains to check for blockages and general state of repair, this can be very useful to find out prior to purchase.

As a result of the recent earthquakes, insuring your new home is not an automatic consideration as it used to be. Accordingly, it is likewise prudent to make the agreement conditional upon obtaining satisfactory home and contents insurance.

If you are obtaining mortgage finance from your bank, it is necessary to make the agreement conditional upon satisfactory finance being obtained which will allow the opportunity to ensure that you are happy with the terms of any loan which is offered to you.

These are essentially the main points to consider when looking at buying a home, however each transaction is unique and your lawyer will make certain that your legal position is such that your are able to make these investigations prior to committing to a purchase and assist you with the process so you don’t end up with a lemon!