Overseas Buyers


This section of our site helps overseas buyers to understand the processes involved in buying a property here in New Zealand. We also provide an overview of important information you should read before making the move to New Zealand, including:

If you are interested in buying or selling property in New Zealand or have a property to rent, contact us now!

Before you start searching for property in New Zealand

As a foreign investor, before you can buy property in New Zealand, you will need to fulfil certain requirements including having:

  • A New Zealand bank account: with most New Zealand banks, this can be set up from overseas and may take up to 2 weeks.
  • A New Zealand IRD number: can take 8-10 working days and is obtained from Inland Revenue.
  • Overseas Taxpayer identification number from the country you have to pay tax on all of your income.

The methods of buying real estate in New Zealand

There are different ways to buy property in New Zealand. Cowdy & Co.’s team are experts in Canterbury property! We are members of the New Zealand Realtors Network group of leading real estate agencies throughout New Zealand and all of our Sales Consultants are fully licenced members of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. You can be sure the advice you’re getting from us is sound.

When you make an offer on a property, it must be completed in writing using a formal Sale & Purchase Agreement. It’s usually made conditional on factors such as mortgage finance, title searches and building reports. The process of buying real estate in New Zealand is covered in depth on our Types of Real Estate Methods page

If you are an overseas buyer looking to purchase significant property in New Zealand, then you may need to deal with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO). The OIO assesses applications from overseas investors who want to purchase sensitive land, high value businesses, and fishing quota. Most property or business investments in New Zealand do not require consent from the OIO.

Buying property in New Zealand

It can take as little as 3-4 weeks to purchase a home, from the time you make an offer to the time you move in. Real estate rules in New Zealand mean that generally once an offer is formally accepted by a property seller, other offers cannot be considered. This obviously is dependent on the conditions of your Sale and Purchase Agreement. This can make the property buying process a lot easier (and less stressful) than in other parts of the world.

Types and areas of land in New Zealand

It’s important to consider the ownership rules relating to the different types of land when buying property in New Zealand. The most common types of land are:

  • Freehold/Fee Simple – the most common form of land in New Zealand, normally you own the land and buildings.
  • Leasehold – you own the buildings on the land and buy the right to lease the land for a fixed period e.g. you own the house but lease the land the house is built on for a period of 100 years with rent reviews every 20 years. Exact details depend on the terms of the lease.
  • Cross-lease – the underlying land is shared by more than one property. The exclusive use of the land and buildings by each owner is set out in a lease agreement between all the owners and each owner has a “bundle of rights”. For example, if the cross-lease is on freehold land, each owner will have a defined yet undivided share in the land. Each owner will have equal shares in the land but it is not divided up.
  • Unit title – the underlying land is shared by more than one property similarly to Cross-Leases described above. Unit Titles are designed to be able to define “space” and is often used in apartment blocks where there may be apartments above and below yours. If the Unit Title is on Freehold land (which it is most commonly), each apartment owner owns the land between them and their share of the land will be determined by the size of their apartment i.e. the largest apartment owner will own the largest share in the land. Each unit pays a pre-determined percentage of the running costs of the building. This is called the “Unit Entitlement”.

Make sure you speak to one of our Sales Consultants about the different types of land you can look to purchase.

For more information on the types of land in New Zealand see the Land Information New Zealand website here.

Purchasing land to build on

If instead of buying an existing house to live in, you’d prefer to buy some land to build on, there are a range of options when it comes to building a home in New Zealand. Many people choose to engage an architect to help them with a new build, but there are also a range of pre-designed home companies throughout New Zealand.

Buying a rental or investment property

If you purchase a property that’s already rented and the tenants have signed a “fixed-term tenancy” agreement, those tenants are legally entitled to stay until the end date stated in the tenancy agreement. As the new property holder, you must honour the terms and conditions in the agreement made with the previous owner. In the case of a “periodic tenancy”, as an owner moving into the property, you can issue 42 days notice for the tenants to vacate.

As well as buying and selling property, here at Cowdy & Co. we offer a Property Management service. We can take care of all those stressful aspects of owning a rental property, leaving you to deal with the important things.

When you own a rental property in New Zealand it’s important to understand the tax implications. There are additional actions with the tax department you need to take when owning a rental property, for example you must declare any rental income you receive however you can also offset all your running costs e.g. mortgage interest, insurance premiums and property management fees. We highly recommend you seek advice from an accountant.

Overseas buyers resources