So you want to buy a house in Auckland?

So you want to buy a house in Auckland?

It’s funny that buying a house is one of the most stressful times in life, and a time when you’re also forced to deal with all sorts of horrible people – realtors, bankers, lawyers. (I don’t say that in a mean-hearted way; I was once a journalist, one of the most reviled jobs on the most-hated professions list every year.)

The good ones make things easy and I think I got off fairly lightly on that front! I would definitely use my lawyer and broker again. (Alas, we do not have buyer’s agents in NZ.) You’d think it would be quite rewarding, too, helping people achieve a big dream and being involved in part of that happy (if stressful) process. They’re only in our lives for a brief stretch of time, but it’s such a significant period.

That said, I encountered NO END of awful agents and nightmarish properties.

Allow me to rant a little about…

The houses themselves

There are so many damn things to watch out for, the most obvious being leaky homes. But then there’s also all sorts of other materials to be wary of. Asbestos in older houses. Weatherside (I’d never heard of it before), a cladding that looks just like hardiplank but not as sturdy, and falls apart.

Then there’s unconsented work to look out for, or things that don’t match the plans.

I wasn’t opposed to buying a do-up, but do-ups need to be affordable enough in the first place to make financial sense (because you still need to pay for all the renovations!) and in no case did the prices stack up. Plus there were basically no “light” do-ups. They were universally in dire need of a total overhaul… and when you’re spending half a million dollars, you want it to be somewhat liveable off the bat.

And other stuff

I lost count of how many times I turned up to an open home (or emailed about a listed property to organise a viewing) only to be told that it was already under contract. Look, I get why they continue to do showings when an offer is still conditional, but I think it’s lame not to be upfront about it, when it’s rare for contracts to fall through. I can only think of about one instance where I saw the actual house listing had been edited to say “under contract” online, in every other instance it was a case of ‘surprise’!

Speaking of agents, not to tar ‘em all with one brush, but the majority I had the misfortune of crossing paths with were useless. Can’t tell you anything, or won’t tell you anything – well, I’m not going to get a lawyer to check the plans or a builder to inspect the place for every single house I have a modicum of interest in!

I suspect it’s damn near impossible to actually use KiwiSaver funds toward the deposit that goes to the seller’s lawyer. They say you need at least 10 days to process the withdrawal, and that’s a long time. I only had five days to go unconditional – my KiwiSaver money went toward the remaining balance for settlement.

And can I add the weird mind games that come about when bidding on a house? There were eight on this one. You’re in to win and then at the end of it all, second guessing yourself – am I paying too much?

Also, I (perhaps naively) imagined my broker would be 100% in the know and up to date with all things KiwiSaver and home-buying related. Not quite the case.

Hey, vendor’s lawyers: how about being prompt with sending through the dang statement with the final sum to settle? Do you want a deal or not? Because I want to pay you. Seriously.

Finally, dear bank: so my passport expired a week after my mortgage draw down / settlement day, and months after my initial approval, and you need an updated form of ID now? And are you seriously going to ask me for updated ID every few years?

9 thoughts on “So you want to buy a house in Auckland?

  • Reply Tricia March 31, 2016 at 03:37

    What challenges you had to overcome! Our house hunting in the States was nothing to what you had to face. Please keep us updated on your home, and whether it’s everything you’ve imagined home ownership to be. Best to you!

  • Reply Cassie March 31, 2016 at 07:22

    It sucks how hot markets bring out the laziest of the lazy, isn’t it? We run into that here too. Funny how they’re more willing to bust their ass once the market finally turns on them.

  • Reply The Personal Economist March 31, 2016 at 11:19

    Oh gosh it is frustrating and stressful! I swear they make it harder than it needs to be. We had a family friend who was a builder and was kind enough to talk us out of buying a few places. Congratulations on your milestone!

  • Reply The Personal Economist March 31, 2016 at 11:22

    It is so frustrating and stressful!
    We were fortunate enough to have a builder friend who talked us out of buying a a lot of places the real estate agents said were ‘fine’.
    Congrats on the milestone and enjoy your place.

  • Reply Life We Learn March 31, 2016 at 11:59

    I didn’t know you could access your retirement savings in NZ to buy your first home. That is very handy. We are only allowed to access ours here in Australia when we reach “preservation age” or for special circumstances like severe financial hardship or have a specific medical condition.
    When the market is booming, real estate agents couldn’t care less. We have experienced the same thing here. However, when the market starts to slow down, they are constantly calling you, go figure. That said, we have come across a few that are very professional too, so there are some good ones out there.

  • Reply Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial April 1, 2016 at 01:50

    We dealt with all the exact same nonsense for our house search in the US (except for the KiwiSaver stuff, for obvious reasons). Especially the multiple-bid nonsense. I cannot tell you how many times we were outbid by like $50,000+ (offering already way more than asking) by cash buyers with no contingencies.

    Congrats on surviving and reaching this awesome goal!

  • Reply Bernie April 1, 2016 at 12:29

    Oh yes! When we were buying five years ago the amount of times we were told “you should look into that” when we would ask the simplistic if questions about a property. Real Estate agents were pretty dire it didn’t seem to matter if they were new or been doing it for years. We coukd say we wanted to it a house anywhere in the north island and they could only suggest their listing in Gore.

  • Reply SP April 2, 2016 at 04:33

    Sounds frustrating!

    I also was frustrated by the non-advice of our first realtor, the second one was a little better. But I also don’t trust them to not gloss over things and try to paint a rosy picture, even if they technically are buyers agents – because they work commission. They also were less helpful on figuring out what it would take to win it.

    We were outbid slightly, but got our house as the back-up offer – which kind of alleviated the “did we overpay?” anxiety.

  • Reply FF @ Femme Frugality April 5, 2016 at 02:44

    Ugh. I hear you on this. Luckily we have a good agent, and we’re not really rushed to buy, but it’s amazing how people Mickey mouse things in order to sell. Anticipating problems when we finally decide to close on one. Not because of anything in particular, but just because, banks…

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