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Can I purchase a home in New Zealand?

15 September 2021 | Chris O'Brien
Godfreys Cameron Taylor Family 2

Owning a family home lies at the heart of the “Kiwi Dream.” For many of us the ability to purchase a home in New Zealand is taken for granted. However, for some people living in New Zealand the process is not so straightforward. As we look forward to a time when migration to New Zealand is possible again it’s important to understand who is eligible to own land, who requires consent, and exceptions to those who would ordinarily require consent or are ineligible to purchase a home.

The Basics

There are different types of eligibility to buy or build a home in New Zealand to live in. These are grouped into the following:

  • people who do not need consent
  • people who need consent and are eligible to apply for it
  • people who are not eligible for consent.

People who do not need consent

In 2018 the Government brought in new restrictions aimed primarily at foreign investors in an attempt to curb runaway house prices. Broadly the law now states that there are no restrictions to buying residential land in New Zealand if:

  • You are a New Zealand, Australian or Singaporean Citizen;
  • You hold a New Zealand, Australian or Singaporean Permanent Resident visa and:
    • have been in New Zealand for at least 183 days of the last 12 months; and,
    • you are a NZ tax resident;
  • You hold a New Zealand Resident Visa and:
    • have held your New Zealand Resident Visa for at least 12 months; and,
    • have been in New Zealand for at least 183 days in the past 12 months.

While it may seem unusual that Australian and Singaporean citizens are automatically eligible, this is because New Zealand has an existing Closer Economic Relations treaty with each of these countries. The terms of these treaties allow citizens in these countries to purchase residential land in New Zealand.

People who need consent and are eligible to apply

If none of the above apply to you then you may be eligible to apply to buy or build a home to live in if you:

  • have a New Zealand residence class visa but are not yet ordinarily resident; or
  • are an Australian or Singaporean permanent resident but are not yet ordinarily resident.

“Ordinarily resident” in this situation means you meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a current residence class visa, and
  • Have been living in New Zealand for at least the immediately preceding 12 months (not just visiting), and
  • Have been present in New Zealand for 183 days or more of those 12 months, and
  • You are a New Zealand tax resident.

People who are not eligible for consent

You cannot buy or build a home in New Zealand to live in if you have a temporary, limited, interim or transit visa (for example, a student visa, work visa or visitor visa), or if you do not hold any visa.

What if my partner and I have different visa?

If you are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship with a person who does not require consent, then the “one home to live in” exemption can apply. This means that if the couple are buying or building a home to live in and one partner does not require consent, the other partner does not need to apply for consent regardless of their visa status.

Similarly, if one partner meets the requirements to apply for consent, then they are able to apply. The other partner does not need to apply, regardless of their visa status.

Unsure whether you require consent?

If you are unsure whether you require consent to purchase a home in NZ, you can call any one of the members of our friendly conveyancing and property team.

Our experienced team deals with residential land purchases every day, and are glad to have a free, no-obligations chat regarding your eligibility to buy a home in New Zealand. We can also discuss with you your eligibility to use your KiwiSaver towards your purchase, as well as whether you qualify for the Kāinga Ora First Home Grant.

Chris Web

Article by:

Chris O'Brien

Solicitor

Originally from Cambridge in the Waikato, Chris has come to the team at Godfreys via a brief stint Lower Hutt. Chris is a key member of our conveyancing team, and enjoys getting into the details of a complicated transaction. Chris also enjoys working on the asset protection aspect of conveyancing.

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