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Buying a Property in NZ? Get Experienced Legal Advice

Monday 19 September 2016

There is one fundamental difference between buying a property in New Zealand and buying a property in China. In New Zealand the law works on a “buyer-beware” principle. It is up to you, the buyer, to make sure you understand all the risks you are entering into and there are very few protections offered by the law. In comparison, buying a property in China mostly does not involve a lawyer. Most people just go through the agent who is meant to be neutral.

That is another fundamental difference between an agent in NZ as compared to an agent in China. An agent in NZ acts for the vendor. They may give you the impression that they are helping you the purchaser to get the property, but they are paid by the vendor only if a sale goes through. Legally they are vendor’s agent and not yours. You cannot rely on any of the advice they give you.

Obtaining independent advice from an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is therefore very important.

Sometimes it is important to see a lawyer before you sign a contract. For example, if:

  1. the market is tight (i.e. high demand but not many good properties like now) and you really want to get a particular property. In that case, come and see us. Good and quick judgement based on experience is important to securing a property in a tight market.
  2. you have to put in an unconditional offer. Again, in a tight market, a lawyer with experience and knowledge who can advise you what the risks are and where to get the information in the quickest way is important.
  3. you are a buyer from overseas. Some vendors are concerned that overseas buyers may default on their purchase. Again, having a lawyer who has a reputation in dealing with overseas clients and can advocate for you is very important in those circumstances.

Even if none of the above applies to you, you should still see a lawyer after you sign the contract. You should have a provision that allows you to not buy the property or renegotiate the price should you lawyer find anything wrong with the property. In that respect, having a due diligence condition in your purchase is vital.

The choice of an experienced lawyer is important. In most law firms, conveyancing is considered “common transactions” and is handled by non-lawyers or graduate lawyers who do not have the experience and knowledge to make the judgements to advise you properly. At Teresa Chan Law, I can help you to secure the property you want at the right price and can give you independent advice of the risks before buying the property.

If you have any specific questions, please consult Teresa Chan at Teresa Chan Law Limited, Level 3, Westpac Building, 106 George Street, Dunedin 9016, ph. 477 1069, or email teresa@tchanlaw.co.nz  If you are a Mandarin speaker, please ring Xiaoyan Mu at (022) 694 9917.

Apart from property sales and purchases, our areas of practice also include: immigration, sale and purchase of businesses, wills, enduring powers of attorney, trusts and relationship property.


Note: The information in this article is general only. You should seek advice for specific situations.



KEYWORDS: property, legal, advice, buyer-beware, lawyer, overseas
Otago Chamber of Commerce Dunedin Shanghai Association