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Four things home buyers need to know about their new property

By Craig Catley

Have you found your dream home on the North Shore? How much do you know about your new property? The agent selling the house will undoubtedly have given you a lot of information, but it's important to find out everything you can before making an investment in a property. Here are four key questions you might not know to ask.

Was it owner occupied or a rental property?

Owner occupied properties tend to have a better history of maintenance than rentals, simply because the owner is on-hand to notice problem areas if they should arise. This doesn't mean former rental properties will have issues, but in some cases the house might have had problems that were solved with quick or temporary fixes.

Homes that were previously occupied by the owner will often be free of any general wear and tear, as we are often more protective and respectful of our own property. Bringing this up with the agent should give you a fair idea of the house's upkeep, and a thorough inspection should help you avoid any of these causes for concern.

Has there been any alterations since construction, and were they permitted? 

You should enquire with the agent about any renovations or other alterations that have taken place on or around the house since construction. It's good to get an idea of what was part of the original build and what is new, but paramount to this enquiry is to make sure the alterations were permitted.

Generally a homeowner needs consent from the Auckland council to undertake any developments on the property, purely to ensure they are being completed to a high standard of safety. As New Zealand has something of a DIY culture – and admittedly no. 8 wire and duct tape can go a long way – you should be sure to ask the seller's agent about any completed projects on the house. Even if they took place before your purchase, as new owner you will be responsible.

Thinking of renovating? It's important to know what the boundaries of your property are – so you know what you have to work with.

Where are the boundaries?

If you're looking to undertake some work on your new North Shore property, it's of the utmost importance to identify where the boundaries of the property are. For most homes on the market, the property boundaries are exactly where you'd think; the fences, hedges or otherwise that border the land. In very rare situations, this is not the case.

Occasionally the property boundaries aren't quite where everyone involved believed them to be, meaning that you or your new neighbour may be encroaching on the other's land. Sorting out an issue like this can be a time-consuming, stress-inducing, and costly process, so it's better to find out early.

Are there any covenants or zoning restrictions on this property?

For those planning to build, extend or develop part of their new property, there can be restrictions in place to prevent you from undertaking such work on certain parts of your land. Covenants are in place to protect natural water-ways, native bush, habitats of protected wildlife and other geographical features.

Likewise, all land in Auckland is zoned for a particular use. You already know it's zoned for residential, but what if you have big plans for this property? Zoning determines what you can build, how high you can build it, and what you can use this additional land for. For example, a mechanic looking at extending the garage to build a small workshop would need to find out whether the land can be used for light industrial purposes.

It's better to get all the information in advance rather than getting caught out later – that's why you should enquire with the agent selling the property to get to the bottom of anything you might need to know later. The team at Ray White Takapuna will have all the answers you need about buying on the North Shore.

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