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Do you have questions about buying a house in New Zealand? Then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a guide with all the need-to-know information for when you have to find a place to stay in New Zealand.
Let’s start with the most important things to know…
Real Estate Authority (REA), a New Zealand industry regulator, recently launched a website, settled.govt.nz, to provide comprehensive, independent information on buying and selling a home in New Zealand.
The website address issues ranging from researching properties to making an offer. The site also features a summary of things REA consider the most important to know when buying a house in New Zealand:
- You must sign a written sale and purchase agreement when you buy a property. This agreement is a legally binding contract between you and the seller.
- Always check your sale and purchase agreement with a lawyer or conveyancer before signing. You must ensure that you understand what you’re agreeing to before signing on the dotted line.
- You can negotiate the conditions in a sale and purchase agreement.
- A sale and purchase agreement becomes unconditional when all the conditions are met.
- The agent helps you and the seller to include the conditions you both want. Even though the agent works for the seller, they also have to deal fairly and honestly with the buyer. They can’t withhold information and must inform you of any known defects of the property.
- The agent will probably use the agreement for sale and purchase approved by the Auckland District Law Society and the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
- Before you sign a sale and purchase agreement, the agent must give you a copy of the REA New Zealand Residential Property Sale and Purchase Agreement Guide. They must also ask you to confirm in writing that you’ve received it.
The sales process
Buying a house in New Zealand is a relatively quick process. It can take as little as three to four weeks to complete a house purchase once you’ve found the place you want.
Unlike in some parts of the world, last minute offers can’t be accepted once a bid is formally accepted. This makes home purchases in New Zealand a lot less stressful than you might be used to.
The role players
Aside from yourself and the seller, a real estate agent is involved when you’re buying a house in New Zealand. You may choose to hire a lawyer, especially since you’re not familiar with New Zealand processes, but this is not required by law.
Here’s why hiring a lawyer is a good idea:
Although you’re not required to hire a lawyer, it is a good idea to do so early on in the process. A property lawyer‘s advice and assistance will prove invaluable: can assist you in a number of ways:
- Handle the legal side of the transaction. You’ll be charged a standard conveyancing fee.
- Help you negotiate a purchase price, check the contract, complete a title search and arrange the payments.
- Advise about tax implications.
- Keep you informed of your risks, rights and obligations throughout the sales process.
The Sale and Purchase Agreement
The Sale and Purchase Agreement goes back and forth between you and the seller until a price and all conditions are agreed on.
The agreement will show the date the sale goes ‘unconditional’, i.e. when all of the conditions have been met, and the settlement date, i.e. when you can move into the property. Once the sale goes unconditional, you are legally committed to buying the property.
Property ads usually show either an RV or GV or CV figure:
- RV: Rateable Value
- GV: Government Valuation
- CV: Council Valuation
These figures refer to the valuation used by the local council to calculate rates for the property, but often don’t reflect the property’s true local market value.
You might also come across a BBO figure. This means Buyer’s Budget Over and is an indication of the price the seller wants.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate on the price you see. This is standard practice in New Zealand.
If you don’t have cash to buy a house, you’ll have to apply for a home loan. There are numerous loan types available in New Zealand:
- Table loans: Most of the early repayments go to pay interest and most of the later payments pay off the principal.
- Revolving credit loans: Your income goes straight into the mortgage account and your bills are paid out of it. This keeps your loan as low as possible, reducing the interest you pay.
- Straight line or reducing loans: You repay the same amount of principal with each payment, but the amount of interest you pay reduces over time.
- Interest only: You do not repay the money you have borrowed until an agreed time, but you do pay interest.
Keep in mind thought that it might prove difficult to get a home loan when you’re new in New Zealand, as you don’t have a credit rating in the country. That doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible. You may just need to have more paperwork in order than the average person.
News to know about buying a house in New Zealand
There has been a lot of press about proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act of 2005. The bill which has been introduced propose that overseas nationals cannot buy existing homes or residential land within New Zealand.
The purpose of the bill is to ‘ensure that investments made by overseas persons in New Zealand will have genuine benefits for the country’. As such only a person who is considered ‘ordinarily resident in New Zealand’ will be able to purchase existing homes or residential property.
Under the proposed legislation, a person ‘ordinarily resident in New Zealand’ would include citizens and residents who holds a permanent visa and has been living in New Zealand for at least a year, including 183 days in the preceding 12 months.
However, the bill has not been passed yet and has received plenty of criticism, even from the IMF (International Monetary Fund).
Recapping what you need to know
While there are many things to know about buying a house in New Zealand, this is the most important:
You have to sign a sale and purchase agreement, which is a legally binding document. It is standard to negotiate the conditions of the agreement, including the sales price, and a conveyancer can help you do this. While appointing a conveyancer is not required by law, it is highly recommended.
With a property lawyer by your side, you’ll enjoy better peace of mind about the process and the deal you’re getting.
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Stuff New Zealand recently reported that there will be a shortfall of tens of thousands of construction workers in New Zealand over the next five years.
This is not good news for the New Zealand construction industry. A shortage of construction workers could hamper efforts to build more houses.
However, it could be good news for someone with the right skills and experience who want to live and work in New Zealand.
Up to 60 000 more workers needed over the next five years
Over the next five years, the New Zealand construction industry will need between 55 000 to 60 000 more construction workers. And that’s before additional building through the government’s KiwiBuild programme is taken into account.
One of the expert Stuff New Zealand chatted to said “a lack of tradespeople was a global concern.” School leavers are turning to university degrees “for everything” more frequently, while looking down on trades.
About New Zealand’s construction industry
New Zealand Now states that ‘…about a quarter of the total employment growth until March 2020 is forecast to occur in construction and related activities. Combined, these sectors are expected to show the strongest growth in the labour market’.
NZN goes on to say that construction activities are likely to grow across New Zealand, with residential construction in the Auckland region and the Canterbury rebuilds driving most of the growth.
How does all of this benefit you?
With construction workers of all kinds in high demand, there are plenty of opportunities available in New Zealand.
This is provided, of course, you have the right skills and experience, and can meet the necessary eligibility criteria. But, if you do, you could be calling New Zealand ‘home’ in the future.
Construction jobs on the skill shortage lists
Construction jobs on the skill shortage lists in early 2018 include:
- Building Inspector
- Building Surveyor
- Construction Project Manager
- Project Builder
- Project Manager
- Quantity Surveyor
- Survey Technician
Book an assessment to determine your eligibility
If you’re keen to move to New Zealand and you work in the construction industry, book a free pre-assessment to see if you are eligible to work in New Zealand. Do it even if you don’t see your occupation on the list above. There might be other opportunities available to you and our licensed advisers can help you discover them.
It’s natural to ask friends who’s already gone through the immigration process for advice. But just because your friend didn’t do an English language test when applying for a skilled migrant visa, doesn’t mean you won’t have to.
Here’s why we say this…
Of course immigration happens according to set rules and regulations, but you and your friend enter the process as individuals.
Let’s take your individual points scores as an example – you might have a recognized level 7 to 8 qualification while your friend has a recognized level 4 to 6 qualification. This means you’ll have different points scores.
In the same way, your individual circumstances means the difference between sitting an English language test or not.
Here’s how to know if you should sit an English language test
Unless you, as the principal applicant, can provide evidence of any of the below, you’ll have to sit an English language test.
- Citizenship of Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America, provided you have spent at least five years in working or studying in one or more of these countries or Australia or New Zealand; or
- A recognized qualification (SM8) comparable to a New Zealand level 7 bachelor’s degree and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least two academic years in one or more of these countries; or
- A recognized qualification (SM8) comparable to a New Zealand qualification at level 8 or above and gained in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom or the United States of America as a result of study undertaken for at least one academic year in one or more of these countries.
Call us if you want to find out more
If the requirements above have shown that you may have to do an English language test, please feel free to contact us to discuss it in more detail. Our advisers can give advice on the different tests or assess your eligibility for a skilled migrant visa. You can either call us on +27 (0) 202 8200 or email us.
Whichever way you choose to contact us, be sure that you’ll get expert advice tailored to your unique situation.
We’re willing to bet that you have a few questions around driving in New Zealand. Questions like ‘do I need a New Zealand driver’s licence?’ and ‘will I be able to drive the same type of cars if I use an overseas driver’s licence?
The good news is that we have the answers for you right here. All you have to do is continue reading.
Can I drive on New Zealand roads?
The New Zealand Transport Agency states that driving in New Zealand is legally allowed provided you:
- Have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit, and
- Haven’t been given a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
- Came into New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
- Your overseas license is in English, or you have an accurate translation, and
- You haven’t been granted a New Zealand driver’s licence since you last entered New Zealand.
If you do not meet all of these requirements, you’ll have to apply for a New Zealand driver’s licence.
For how long can I drive on my overseas driver’s licence in New Zealand?
You’re allowed to drive for a maximum period of 12 months from the date you arrive in New Zealand.
If you’ll be in New Zealand for more than a year, you’ll need to get a New Zealand driver’s licence. If your overseas licence is still current, or has expired less than 12 months ago, you can apply to convert it to a New Zealand’s licence.
What type of vehicles can I drive on my overseas driver’s licence?
As the holder of a valid overseas driver’s licence, you’re considered to hold a New Zealand driver’s licence of a class that allows you to drive the motor vehicles you are allowed to drive under you overseas licence:
- Full overseas driver’s licence: This licence is equivalent to New Zealand class 1 driver’s licence and allows you to drive a car or light vehicle with a gross laden weight of no more than 6000kg.
- Learner, restricted or provisional driver’s licence: The weight limit will be lower than for a full driver’s licence.
- Full overseas motorcycle licence: This licence is equivalent to a New Zealand class 6 licence and allows you to drive any size motorcycle.
- Learner, restricted or provisional motorcycle licence: You can only ride specific motorcycles approved under the Licence Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS).
For further clarification on New Zealand class definitions, please go here. If your car, motorcycle or heavy vehicle (truck) licence has specified weights or limits which differ from New Zealand classes, the New Zealand Transport Agency recommends that you adhere to the equivalent New Zealand weight limits or, if you’re unsure, obtain a New Zealand driver’s licence.
What are the road rules when driving in New Zealand?
New Zealand’s Road Code is a comprehensive guide to road rules for all types of vehicles as well as cyclists.
However, most important to know is that New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road. This might take a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to driving on the right side of the road!
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Do you dream of working as an electrician in New Zealand? Are you qualified and experienced? Are you fluent in English?
Then your dream could become reality.
There is currently a shortage of electricians in New Zealand and New Zealand Immigration is recruiting candidates who tick all the immigration boxes from abroad.
Keep on reading to find out more about:
- How ANZSCO defines an electrician for New Zealand
- Electricians’ place on the Long Term Skill Shortage List and what it means.
- The visas available to electricians.
- How to assess your immigration eligibility.
- What you can expect from working as an electrician in New Zealand.
The ANZSCO definition of an electrician
Let’s start by saying that ANZSCO stands for the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations. This list has Electrician (General) as ANZSCO level 3 and defines it as someone who:
Installs, tests, connects, commissions, maintains and modifies electrical equipment, wiring and control systems. Registration or licensing is required.
Electricians on the Long Term Skill Shortage List
Electricians (General) appear on New Zealand’s Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL). This means, as already mentioned, it’s an occupation where there is a sustained and on-going shortage of highly skilled workers throughout New Zealand.
This means should you get a job as an electrician, and you meet all the immigration requirements, you are eligible to live and work in New Zealand.
Visas available to electricians
Let’s assume you do have a job offer and you meet the work, qualification, age, health and character requirements. This qualifies you for a Work to Residence visa. This is a temporary visa, valid for 30 months.
That’s the first step in the process.
Should you live and work in New Zealand on your Work to Residence visa for at least 24 months, and continue to meet the requirements (including having a job with a base salary of at least NZ$45 000), you’ll be able to apply for residence status.
Qualifying under the Skilled Migrant category
Yes, there is a chance that you could apply for New Zealand residency straight away.
Finding out if you qualify
Finding your occupation on the Long Term Skills Shortage List is only the first step in any emigration journey.
As you can see from what we’ve said above, you also still have to meet a long list of requirements, ranging from health to qualifications requirements.
But how do you find out if you stand a chance of working as an electrician in New Zealand?
We’ll tell you… By doing a comprehensive immigration assessment, performed by a licensed immigration adviser.
Intergate Emigration can help you
Our immigration advisers are all licensed to conduct immigration assessments and registered with the New Zealand Immigration Advisor Authority.
Booking an assessment with one of them is as simple as submitting your details here.
Let us also mention that the initial assessment is free of charge. This assessment will reveal if you stand a chance of qualify for a visa and highlight the best way forward.
What you can expect from working as an electrician in New Zealand
The most important thing you should know is this – you cannot work in New Zealand without a visa!
You’ll also need to be registered and licensed with New Zealand’s Electrical Registration Board. The Board wants proof of your experience before an application for registration is accepted and requirements for full registration is shared. Don’t worry though – our advisers can talk you through this process.
Here’s what else we can tell you about working in New Zealand as an electrician:
Qualified electricians earn between NZ$23 and NZ$32 per hour. This hourly rate is influenced by a couple of factors, such as:
- The city you’re working in.
- Your experience.
- Your skills.
- The job’s responsibilities and duties.
You can expect to perform similar job functions in New Zealand as back home. New Zealand electricians are also responsible for duties such as installing electrical wiring, repairing electrical equipment and conducting safety tests.
Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Electricians in New Zealand work regular business hours, but may also work weekends and be on call.
Depending on your job, you can expect to work in building sites, existing buildings, power stations or substations. You might also need to travel to local work sites.
Have you booked your assessment yet?
Our pre-assessment will get the ball rolling by highlighting any visa options open to you, at no cost.
That’s right – your pre-assessment is free of charge. It’s obligation free too. You don’t have to continue using our services if you don’t want to.
What do you have to lose? Book your assessment right away.
One of the main research point for our clients is the cost of living in New Zealand. Time and again clients tell us they want to know that they’ll be able to live comfortably.
This has lead us to put together the ultimate guide to the cost of living in New Zealand – and today we’re sharing it with you.
You’ll get a better understanding of how much money you could expect to earn and what your average living costs would be:
We’ll even tell you where to go do a realistic cost-of-living calculation. But first let’s look at how much you could expect to earn…
To see where you can expect the most of your money to go, have a look at the information on figure.nz.
You can choose to rent or buy a home in New Zealand. You might have to rent a home when you first arrive so let’s start there:
Trade Me Property reports that the national median rent rose 4.4 per cent to an all-time high of $470 per week in January. Renters in Wellington paid an average of NZ$550 per week, while those in Auckland and Christchurch paid NZ$540 and NZ$400 respectively.
The costs involved
The initial costs will include a portion of the rent in advance, a letting fee if you use an agent and a bond.
A landlord can ask for a maximum of two weeks rent in advance while you can expect that the bond (or deposit) will be equal to four weeks’ rent. This means you’ll have to pay up up to six weeks of rent upfront.
You’ll get the bond back at the end of the leasing term, provided you leave the place in a good condition.
To do a search for rental prices in the area you plan on staying, go to TenancyServices, a website hosted by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
New Zealand’s property market ended 2017 ‘with record asking prices’.
While small (1-2 bedrooms) and medium houses (3-4 bedrooms) continue to be the most popular house type across the country, large (5+ bedrooms) and medium houses reached a record high in December of last year, climbing to $1,156,400 and $641,850 respectively.
The regions with the biggest percentage increases in property prices were:
- Southland (13.5%);
- Otago (13.3%);
- Hawke’s Bay (12.8%); and
- Wanganui (12.2%).
You can check the median values of homes in any region, city or even street on QV.co.nz for an accurate estimate for how much you could expect to pay for your New Zealand home.
Keep this in mind: Property ads in New Zealand usually show either an RV (Rateable Value), GV (Government Valuation) or CV (Council Valuation) figure. These figures refer to the valuation used by the local council to calculate rates for the property. These aren’t registered valuations and often don’t reflect the property’s true market value.
The main utilities for any home would be water and electricity. Of course an internet connection is also considered essential in this day and age.
Most regional councils charge for the water they supply and the rates vary from region to region. If you own your home, the cost is added to your rates as water rates.
When it comes to electricity, you’ll find that there are a number of electricity and gas retailers in New Zealand. You can search for the best deal on the PowerSwitch website run by ConsumerNZ and MBIE Consumer Affairs.
There are a range of internet service providers to choose from in New Zealand. Glimp lets you compare providers by price, speed, data and plan specifics. You can also use Broadband Compare for service provider comparisons.
While public transport is available in New Zealand, most New Zealanders choose to own a car and drive to where they need to be.
Choosing to also go this route means you’ll need to buy a car once you get to New Zealand. You can use New Zealand’s AA website to see how much your favourite car will cost you new, but here are a couple of prices to start you off:
- Ford Fiesta: From NZ$25, 490
- Citroën C4: From NZ$36,990
- Hyundai Sonata: From NZ$45,990
- Maza CX-9: From NZ$58,490
- Toyota FJ Cruiser: NZ$66,930
What about insurance and petrol?
Insurance is not compulsory in New Zealand but third party insurance will insure you against having to personally pay the cost of damage to someone else’s vehicle. Petrol prices are on the AA’s site where regularly updates are published.
The general rule is that local produce will be cheaper than imported items.
Keep in mind that imported items travel very far due to New Zealand’s ‘end of the earth’ location. This means you might pay considerably more for certain items than you’re used to.
Numbeo is a great site if you’d like to see how much food items are in New Zealand. The site lists most of the items the average person will have on their shopping list, from milk and rice to chicken breasts, bananas and lettuce.
And, as promised – how to do a realistic cost-of-living calculation
We said we’ll tell you where to go for a realistic calculation of your cost of living and here it is:
You can use New Zealand Now’s cost calculator. You can tailor your income and expenses (be sure to click on the + signs on the expenses!) and adjust to a monthly or weekly outlook.
Of course here at Intergate we like to go the extra mile, so here is a bonus tip to end off our guide to the cost of living in New Zealand:
It doesn’t matter if you’ve done some research or none, you’ll find the answer you’re looking for in these questions:
- How do I know if this is the right visa to apply for?
- How does INZ qualify a ‘partner’?
- How do we prove our partnership is ‘genuine’?
- Is there any other qualifying criteria?
- When do I make my visa application?
- Does this visa allow me to work?
- Can I add our dependent children to my visa application?
Let’s begin at the start…
1. How do I know if this is the right visa to apply for?
To make an application as the partner of a New Zealand work visa holder, you must ask yourself these questions:
- Is your partner making an application for a New Zealand work visa?
- Or does your partner already have a work visa for New Zealand?
- Would you like to join your partner in New Zealand?
Were your answers ‘yes’? Then this is the correct application for you, as you’ll be able to join your partner in New Zealand when they go there to live and work.
2. How does INZ qualify a ‘partner’?
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) define a partnership as:
- Two people (either same sex or opposite sex),
- Who live together in a genuine and stable relationship in any of the following:
Does your relationship tick the boxes? Congratulations! You’ve passed the first test.
3. How do we prove our partnership is ‘genuine’?
INZ will ask a number of questions to establish the nature of your partnership. These questions include:
- How long have you been together?
- How long have you been living together as a couple?
- Do you support each other financially?
- How do you share financial responsibilities?
- Do you share a property or own a property together?
- Do you have children?
- Do other people recognise your relationship?
The more proof you can provide in answer to these questions, the stronger your case will be.
4. Is there any other qualifying criteria?
Yes, there is. The most important is that you and your partner:
- Must be 18 years or older. If you are 16 or 17 years old, consent is required from parents or guardians.
- Must have met each other before applying for a visa based on your partnership.
- Cannot be close relatives.
You must also know that your partner won’t be eligible to support your visa, or a subsequent residence application, if they have supported:
- More than one previous residency application.
- A successful residence application for a previous partner in the last 5 years.
- A previous partner in a successful residence application in the last 5 years.
- Or have been included as a partner in a successful residence application the last 5 years.
5. When do I make my visa application?
The partner of a New Zealander work holder visa application can be made at the same time as the work visa application.
In fact, the norm is to do it this way so that both partners can travel to New Zealand together.
6. Will I be allowed to work?
Yes, you can work in New Zealand on this visa. The option to work is also an open one as your visa won’t be specific to a single employer.
7. Can I add our dependent children to my visa application?
No, dependents cannot be included. However, dependents may make an application for a visa in their own right. As an example, dependent children of school-going age can apply for a dependent child student visa.
Want to apply? Then you should contact us
Intergate Emigration has helped many couples successfully migrate to New Zealand.
Our advisers will assess you against all the requirements and help with your application.