Tackling money laundering

Anti-Money-Laundering

To improve New Zealand’s ability to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing, the Government has made law changes that affect various businesses and professions.

 

Each year about $1.35 billion from the proceeds of fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through everyday New Zealand businesses. These law changes – put in place practical measures to protect businesses and make it harder for criminals to profit from and fund illegal activity. They’ll also safeguard and help New Zealand live up to our reputation as being one of the least corrupt countries and a good place to do business.

 

The law will come into effect in stages for different sectors to give businesses time to prepare for the changes. From 1 January 2019, real estate agents will have to comply with the AML/CFT Act when representing a client who’s either selling or buying real estate.

 

 

New restrictions for overseas buyers

Overseas-Investment-Amendment-Bill

The Overseas Investment Amendment Act comes into force on October 22nd 2018 and will impact every residential property transaction.

The bill amendments aim to ensure that investments made by overseas persons in New Zealand will have genuine benefits for the country.

Queenstown Law kindly answered some of the most asked questions regarding the new amendments.

What is included as “Residential Land”

Land that has a property category of residential or lifestyle.

 

Who can buy Residential Land and who needs consent?

  • New Zealand, Australia and Singapore Citizens can purchase with no restrictions;
  • Resident Visa and Permanent Resident Visa Holders of New Zealand, Australia and Singapore need to meet 183 days NZ residing test in the previous 12 months
  • All others will need consent to purchase

 

Are there any exemptions?

Yes. The key ones for the purposes of overseas property investors are:

  • Buying a dwelling in a large apartment block off the plans
  • Buying a Hotel unit and leasing it back for hotel use

 

Transactions entered before October 22nd 2018, when the Act comes into force, will not be affected by the Act. Not sure if the new amendments affect you? Talk to us to find out.

 

Can I use KiwiSaver to buy my first home?

Buying-Home-KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver is a work-based savings initiative where regular contributions are made from your pay and employer. Designed to be a hassle-free way to save for your retirement, you may also be able to withdraw your savings to put towards purchasing your first home.

The rules and regulations regarding KiwiSaver were changed this year, so stay up-to-date and read the KiwiSaver guidelines below:

  • You must intend to live in the home for six months

You must intend on living in the property you have bought using KiwiSaver for a minimum of six months from settlement date. If you use the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant to build your home, you need to live in that house for a minimum of six months from the issue of the code compliance certificate.

  • KiwiSaver member for at least 3 years

After a minimum of three years of being a KiwiSaver member, you can apply to withdraw your savings to buy your first home.

  • You can’t withdraw it all

You must leave your $1000 kickstart in your KiwiSaver account.

  • Be purchasing your first home

The KiwiSaver HomeStart grant must be used to purchase or build your first home, not an investment property. However, there are some circumstances where those in the same financial position as a first home buyer may still be eligible

 

 

The key benefits of buying off-the-plans

Buying-Off-the-Plans

Buying off-the-plans is sometimes portrayed as a ‘risky’ investment but buying before the property has been built can hold many benefits from financial gains to peace of mind. Here are our top five benefits of buying off the plan:

 

  • You get your pick of the properties! Buying off the plans means more selection as your favourite may have sold once construction has started.

 

  • You don’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance an older property sometimes requires.

 

  • It’s new! We all love something new and you will maximise your rental return as tenants will pay more to live in a new home.

 

  • The property market is quickly changing and as property prices increase, there is potential to make a profit on your development during the process.

 

  • Prices sometimes increase as construction nears completion, you could pay a little less by buying off the plans.

 

 

Harcourts scoop Most Trusted award for sixth year in a row

Harcourts-Most-Trusted-Real-Estate-Brand

Reader’s Digest has announced its Most Trusted brands for 2018, and Harcourts, New Zealand’s largest real estate brand has come out on top. Meaning that for the sixth consecutive year, New Zealanders have voted Harcourts their Most Trusted real estate brand and making Harcourts the only real estate brand to have held this honour for this continuation.

 

Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says the support and faith New Zealanders continue to put into the company is humbling.

 

“To be named the Most Trusted real estate brand for six years in a row is an incredible achievement. We are not only proud of our teams across the entire country, but we want to thank those New Zealanders who have worked with us and voted us number one.”

 

“We take the trust New Zealanders place in us very seriously. After all, making the decision to buy or sell a property is often one of the biggest, most important financial decisions all of us will make. You want to know that the sales consultants you are working with have knowledge, experience, honesty and integrity.”

 

The challenge for the company is to keep finding new ways to deliver exceptional customer service. “That is absolutely always at the core of everything we do. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our clients’ experience with us,” he says.

 

“To ensure Harcourts is living up to this goal of offering clients a premium service, the company will, in 2018, launch a client experience project. This will allow every customer the opportunity to rate their experience with our company and our people, in a transparent way that can be measured. It’s an exciting innovation which will allow Harcourts to continue to grow our people and constantly evolve our service to clients.”

“You hear it said a lot, that no relationship can work without trust. Trust is something you can’t put a price on. That is why this title of Most Trusted is so important to us.”

 

Harcourts will receive this prestigious award on 30 May alongside other elite Kiwi brands such as Whittakers.

 

Thank you, New Zealand.

 

How to bid at an auction

how-to-bid-at-an-auction

Auctions are popular with both vendors and buyers. For buyers, it provides more transparency to the value of the home and the competition you’re facing. For some, they can be daunting but auctions provide many benefits and will have agents present to offer advice when needed.

Here are a few tips on how to succeed at an auction:

Research

Going, going, gone! The sale is final once the hammer goes down, so do your homework! We recommend obtaining a LIM, builders report etc. Know what you’re bidding for.

 

Get your finance approved

Get all your ducks in a row before going to an auction. Buyers who bid at an auction approach their mortgage broker or bank before the auction and ask for unconditional pre-approval for the particular property they are interested in.

 

Talk to your solicitor

Before you raise your hand or nod at the auctioneer you should get legal advice. Your solicitor can review documentation provided by the owner and alert you to any issues or information you may have missed. Complete all necessary documentation before attending an auction to bid on a property and have your deposit ready.

 

Register your interest

Let the consultant overseeing the auction know that you are interested in bidding. Email or phone in advance, this means that you will be fed any information or critical news before the auction starts. This could include the auction being brought forward.

 

Familiarise yourself with the process

Visit a few before attending the auction of the property you wish to bid on. This will show you how it all works, how buyers and the auctioneers behave and allow you to prepare yourself for the big day!

 

Things to know

  • If the auction does not meet the vendor’s reserve price, it will be ‘passed in’. The highest bidder will be given the opportunity to negotiate with the vendor.
  • You can ask a real estate agent to act on your behalf, if you think the process will be too nerve-racking for you.
  • Know your limits and bid with confidence.

 

Did you know that you can watch our Queenstown auctions LIVE?

Buying in a millennial market

Millennial-Home-Buyers

As the millennial generation step on to the property ladder, we see different trends emerging and more caution being taken when buying first homes. Deemed by some as the ‘pickiest home buyers’, Generation Y are turning the tides of real estate.

Where generations before had limited resources when buying property and considered their first purchase a lifelong family home, millennial’s have an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips and consider their first home a stepping stone or starter property on the way to their big picture goal.

One thing that remains the same, buying a house is the biggest financial decision you will probably make. Ever. Can we help you? Absolutely, keep reading for our top tips for millennial buyers.

 

Define your goals

Figure out what it is you’re looking for and if you’re going it alone or with a partner/friend. Ryan Hardy, luxury real estate agent says, “Given that buying a home is such a big step, it’s important for you to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible in advance. This means clearly determining why you’re buying and what kind of home you’re looking for”. Define your house goals, whether it’s an investment property or your new family home. Facing the property market with a clear idea of what you want will make the process easier and much less daunting.

 

Examine your finances

Look at what you can afford and keep in mind that you may need to spend money on the property to personalise it further down the line. Speak to your bank and discuss the best plan of action and what your budget will stretch to. Remember, interest rates can change as economic conditions fluctuate, will you be able to afford your mortgage payments if they increase? Perhaps buy a property slightly under your budget so you have a safety net.

 

Talk to the professionals

Determining your budget or knowing a properties worth isn’t easy. Talk to the professionals and work together to find your dream home within your budget. There are many mortgage and payment options, a specialist can help you choose the right one for you. A real estate agent can review your property checklist and provide an option you may have overlooked.

 

Look beyond the great views

Know the property inside and out before buying, not preparing for necessary renovations or essential work takes its toll on the budget and you. Find an agent who provides you with detailed inspections and keeps you updated regularly.

 

Talk to one of our agents for more information.

Insulation Regulations For Rentals

NZ-Insulation-Regulations-Harcourts

Landlords are now obligated to provide warmer, drier and safer homes for their tenants. Any new, replacement or top-up insulation installed after 1 July 2016 in a rental home must meet the regulations that will apply to all rental homes from 1 July 2019. A landlord who fails to comply with the regulations is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.

Insulation is one of the most effective ways to save energy in a home since it keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And a warmer home is a drier, and healthier home. It is estimated that in one year a typical home can save up to $400 on energy bills by installing ceiling insulation. Adding underfloor insulation could save even more!

Recent studies in New Zealand have shown a link between insulation and health. The Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences study showed:

  • A significant drop in energy use when the houses were insulated.
  • Once the houses were insulated, they were drier and warmer.
  • People in insulated houses reported their houses were “significantly warmer”.
  • There was a significant improvement in the self-reported health of those living in the insulated houses compared to those whose houses were not insulated.
  • Adults and children in insulated houses reported visiting their GP less.
  • Adults and children in insulated houses reported that they were admitted to hospital less often for respiratory conditions.
  • Adults and children in insulated homes were significantly less likely to report sick days.
  • People living in insulated houses reported less visible mould inside their homes.

Who is exempt?

As New Zealand has many types of houses, the law allows for some exceptions to the insulation requirements, including where it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ to install insulation in certain types of property. These exceptions are not loopholes – they must be legally justifiable.

Due to the design or construction constraints of some property types, it is sometimes either not physically possible to insulate or would require major renovations to do so. Examples of types of properties that would meet exception criteria would be apartments where there is a habitable space above and below the apartment, houses constructed on concrete slabs where it is not feasible to install underfloor insulation, and homes with skillion roofs where there is no ceiling in place to install insulation above.

Other situations in which landlords may be exempted from the insulation requirements are:

  • Where within 12 months of the start of a tenancy, the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property. In this case the landlord must, if requested, provide evidence of having applied for the necessary resource consent and/or building consent for the redevelopment or building work.
  • Where a property is purchased from and immediately rented back to the former owner-occupier – in which case a 12 month exception will apply from the date of purchase.
  • If a property does not meet the new insulation requirements, but a landlord can provide evidence that when insulation was originally installed it did comply with particular insulation requirements (such as the specifications outlined in the building consent or an Acceptable Solution or Verification Method) the property is excluded from new requirements, provided the insulation is in reasonable condition.

To read the full Insulation requirements, click here.

Apple recognises Harcourts custom apps across global web network

New Zealand Real Estate group Harcourts, has been selected from a world-wide category to be the first real estate company to be featured across Apple’s global web network with a case study showing how they have used Apple’s iOS technology to transform their business.

In recognition of their innovation and use of the iPad and iPhone to enhance client experience and drive greater efficiency for their business, Apple has produced a video and business case study about Harcourts’ work – an accolade reserved only for companies developing the most cutting edge business solutions using Apple technology.

Harcourts is the first company from the Australasian region, and the first real estate group world-wide, to be selected by Apple for this recognition.

Harcourts New Zealand CEO Hayden Duncan, says the custom suite of apps developed by Harcourts, is transforming the way they do business.

“By nature real estate is a mobile business. Agents are on the road, meeting clients, inspecting properties and showing homes.

“The power of Apple iOS inspired us to develop a suite of apps for our global network of sales consultants that would provide them with a full range of marketing, research and technological tools while they’re on the move. The apps save our consultants hundreds of hours per year by streamlining tasks and they help us deliver a great client experience.

“Take e-Campaign for iPad, for example. From the comfort of your living room, a sales consultant can help you build your ideal marketing campaign; displaying real-time market data from your local neighbourhood, visually showcasing the complete range of marketing options available, and booking everything into an online calendar so you know exactly what to expect every step of the way.

“Information is all stored digitally so there’s no need for paper forms or folders or for data re-entry back at the office, which means we can deliver a timely, professional, and consistent level of service,” says Mr Duncan.

Harcourts was selected above several other global real estate companies because they showed how Apple technology has enabled them to become game-changers in their industry.

“The integration of our apps both with third-party real estate data sources and the company intranet is key to our success. This means sales consultants have access to an unprecedented level of information from wherever they are providing a distinct competitive advantage,” explains Mr Duncan.

Mr Duncan says Harcourts’ focus is firmly on the future and innovation is at the forefront of everything they do.

“Client expectations are changing and it’s essential that we change with them. Technology is helping us to be more agile and responsive to our clients’ needs, delivering faster and more effective communication, and providing a seamless client experience overall.”

“Being able to launch our apps across multiple devices in multiple countries and integrate to our intranet is one of the key reasons we chose iOS as our platform.”

 

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SERVICE FIRST

Our approach begins and ends with client care: you are our priority.

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GLOBAL ATTENTION

The Harcourts international network spans 830 offices in 10 countries.

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MOST TRUSTED

Harcourts is NZ's Most Trusted Real Estate Brand (Reader's Digest, 2012-16).