Step-by-step buying guide

Buying a property, especially your first home, is a big decision. Together with the Real Estate Authority (REA), we’ve created some useful tips, tools and lists to help guide you through the buying process, from start to moving in.

Here are the important things to know and the steps you need to take:

  1. Work out your budget
  2. Get pre-approved for a home loan
  3. Find a solicitor
  4. House hunting
  5. Inspect the property
  6. Get your property checked out
  7. Make an offer
  8. If your offer is accepted
  9. Before settlement
  10. Settlement day

1. Work out your budget

The first thing you will want to know is what your budget is.

To do this you’ll need to get a realistic picture of your finances, i.e. your income vs your spending, and weigh this up against your deposit - how much you've saved for your home and/or how much equity you have in your current property.

For help with your budget:
  • Use the tools and information offered by Sorted, a free service by Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission dedicated to helping New Zealanders get ahead financially.
  • Refer to this Family Budgeting Guide by Glimp.
  • Find information about family support organisations and their services through the Family Services Directory.

Need to sell your home first?

Find out how much your home is worth by getting a free property appraisal.

You can also search our sold properties or check out our latest market reports to see what homes in your area are selling for.

Tips for first-time homebuyers

2. Get pre-approved for a home loan

Pre-approval is when a bank, financial institution or building society, agrees, in principle, to lend you a certain amount of money.

Determining how much money you can borrow is important. Contact a mortgage broker or your bank who will decide if they can offer you pre-approval.

How much you can borrow depends on:
  • The value of the home you are looking to buy
  • How much deposit you have
  • Your income
  • Your ability to repay your home loan after you've paid your outgoings
  • The equity you have in your current property or properties.

Top tip

Getting a pre-approval puts you in a better negotiating position, helps speed up the mortgage documentation process and enables you to bid with confidence at auctions.


3. Find a solicitor

Before purchasing a property, we recommend seeking independent legal advice.

Finding the right lawyer is an important part of the buying process. Your lawyer will make sure that all the legal processes are followed and they can also check over property reports, such as Land Information Memorandums (Council LIM reports) and titles.

Tips on how to find a solicitor

Seeking advice from friends is a good place to start. Otherwise, you can contact the Auckland District Law Society or the New Zealand Law Society.


4. House hunting

And then your search begins.

Everyone has their own way of searching, whether it be online, using an app or contacting a salesperson.

You can visit our website or download our free app from the App Store or Google Play to search for properties near you - we have thousands of properties for sale, with hundreds of new listings every month. 

Our listings also appear on Trade Me and


Top house hunting tips

1. Do your homework.

See what houses are selling in your area and at what price. Check out:

2. Know what you can afford.

If you have a pre-approval, it will be much easier to narrow down your search, as you will have a specific budget to look for.


5. Inspect the property

It's always a good idea to give the house you're interested in a once-over.

Check out our property inspection checklist for helpful tips on what to look for during a property viewing or open home.


6. Get your property checked out

Before you purchase a property, we recommend that you consider viewing or commissioning specialist reports, such as a Land Information Memorandum (LIM), and builders and engineers reports.

What is a LIM?


7. Make an offer

All offers must be made in writing using the correct documentation. There are two types of offers:

  • Unconditional - a straightforward offer to buy according to the terms set out in the contract.
  • Conditional - when your offer to buy has conditions attached, for example, arranging finance or being satisfied with a building report you arrange.

Before making an offer, we recommend that you involve your lawyer, get sufficient property checks done and, if you're making a conditional offer, decide on the conditions.

If you’re buying at an auction or making a pre-auction offer, you can only make an unconditional offer. Find out more about how offers work when buying by auction, tender or negotiation.

What is an unconditional offer?


8. If your offer is accepted

Your offer is accepted once all parties have agreed to the terms, including price and deposit, and the contract agreement has been signed by all parties.

  • If the agreement is conditional, any conditions need to be satisfied by the due date. It is the buyers responsibility to satisfy those conditions.
  • Once the conditions are met, the offer becomes ‘unconditional’.
  • Once an agreement is unconditional, neither the buyer or the seller can change their mind, and the buyer must pay the rest of the purchase price on the settlement day.
  • Deposit payments are made by the buyer to the real estate agency, which is required by law to hold the money in an audited trust account, only releasing it to the seller when legally authorised to do so.
  • We’ll work with both solicitors and will let you know once the deposit has been transferred.


9. Before settlement

Read our purchase to possession guide to find out more about what you need to do after you have you have signed the Sale and Purchase Agreement.


10. Settlement day

Settlement day is the date on which you pay the balance for the property.

Usually, it is the same date as the date you get possession - the keys - but that is not always the case.

The keys to your new property will be held at the Barfoot & Thompson office until the sellers’ solicitor advises us in writing, that the settlement has taken place.

If there is a chain of settlements you may not get access to the property as early as you would like on the day of settlement. We can only release the keys to you once the legal settlement has occurred and the seller's solicitor notifies us.


What happens next?

To find out more, read our purchase-to-possession guide.

Need some help?

Contact one of our salespeople, they'll be happy to help.

For additional resources, visit the site that provides independent guidance and advice including checklists, tools and videos. It covers everything from the initial thought process of buying (your goals, finances and support) to how you make the offer to settling in.