Find out about buying or building a home in New Zealand to live in, and whether you will need consent to do so.

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New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand who meet the requirements to be ‘ordinarily resident’ can buy property without restrictions.

Overseas people usually cannot buy a house or land in New Zealand.

If you have a residence class visa but you are not yet ‘ordinarily resident’, you can buy or build one home to live in as long as you get consent from the Overseas Investment Office before you buy.

You can apply for pre-approval that lasts up to a year. This is the most flexible form of consent and is recommended by the Overseas Investment Office.

The rules for buying or building one home to live in apply to land the Overseas Investment Act defines as ‘Residential Land’. This means land that has a property category of ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle’ on the District Valuation Roll.

Residential land

If the land is also sensitive for another reason you will need consent for this too. Sensitive land includes land on an island, next to a beach or river, or next to a conservation area.

Sensitive land

If you are an Australian or Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, different rules will apply. You may need consent to buy some types of property.

You can be penalised for breaking the overseas investment rules, so we recommend that you get legal advice. 

Who needs consent

There are 3 categories of eligibility to buy a house or land to build on in New Zealand:  

  • people who can buy property without restrictions 
  • people who can buy certain types of property if they have consent 
  • people who cannot buy property.

Immigration New Zealand has a tool to help you check if you can buy property in New Zealand.

Buying or building a house in New Zealand – New Zealand Now

People who can buy property without restrictions

You can buy or build a home in New Zealand without applying for consent if you, your partner (as defined in the Property (Relationships) Act 1976), or your spouse:

  • are a New Zealand citizen (whether or not you live here)
  • have a New Zealand residence class visa and are ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  • are an Australian or Singaporean citizen, and buy a house or land that has a property category of ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle’.
  • are an Australian or Singaporean citizen and are ordinarily resident, and buy land that is ‘residential and otherwise sensitive’ (for example, Residential Land that is also sensitive because it is on an island, next to a beach or river, or next to a conservation area)
  • are an Australian or Singaporean permanent resident and are ordinarily resident and buy land ‘that has a property category of ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle.

People who can buy certain types of property with consent from the Overseas Investment Office

You can apply for consent to buy or build a home to live in if you:

  • have a New Zealand residence class visa but are not yet ordinarily resident
  • are an Australian or Singaporean permanent resident but are not yet ordinarily resident 
  • are an Australian or Singaporean citizen but are not yet ordinarily resident, and you want to buy land that is ‘residential and otherwise sensitive’ (for example, Residential Land that is also sensitive because it is on an island, next to a beach or river, or next to a conservation area).

If you are given consent, there will be conditions you must meet.

People who are not eligible to buy property

You cannot buy or build a home in New Zealand if you are:

  • an overseas person with a temporary, limited, interim or transit visa (such as a student, work or visitor visa) 
  • an overseas person without any visa.

If you aren’t sure if you can buy property, Immigration New Zealand has a tool to help you check.

Buying or building a house in New Zealand – New Zealand Now

Are you ‘ordinarily resident’?

If you want to buy a house or land in New Zealand it is important to know if you are ‘ordinarily resident’. This can affect:

  • if you need to get consent from the Overseas Investment Office
  • the type of land you can buy. 

To be ordinarily resident in New Zealand for residential property purchases, you must meet all four criteria:

  • have a residence class visa
  • have lived in New Zealand for at least the last 12 months
  • have been physically present in New Zealand for at least 183 days of the last 12 months, and
  • be a tax resident of New Zealand.

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or Singapore, you will receive a residence class visa when you arrive in New Zealand.

Find out more about the requirements to be ordinarily resident in New Zealand

What type of land is it?

The Overseas Investment Act rules and requirements are different for different types of land. For example, the consent requirements for buying residential land are different to the type of consent required to buy rural land larger than 5 hectares.

Under the ‘buying or building one home to live in’ pathway, we can grant consent to buy land that has a property category of ‘residential’ or ‘lifestyle’ on the District Valuation Roll.

  • Residential land is usually residential property in cities and towns – it can be a house that is already built, or land to build a house on. 
  • Lifestyle land is usually ‘lifestyle blocks’ in the countryside but close to cities or towns. Lifestyle blocks may be called small-holdings or hobby farms in other countries. 

Land categories are found on the District Valuation Roll. This is different to the land’s ‘zone’ in the District Plan. 

You can check a property’s category on the Quotable Value website. Look for an R or L as the first letter of the category code. You could also ask the local council. 

Quotable Value

Residential land

Residential land can also be sensitive for other reasons. For example, Residential Land that is also sensitive because it is on an island, next to a beach, river, or lake, or next to a reserve or conservation area.

Identifying sensitive land

Buying with a spouse or partner

If you are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship, only one of you needs to meet the Overseas Investment Act rules for buying a relationship property in New Zealand. This is true regardless of the visa status of the partner who does not meet the rules.

  • If you have consent to buy a house, and are buying the house as relationship property, your partner does not need to get consent.
  • If you can buy property without needing consent, your partner does not need to get consent.

The legislation covering spouses is in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005.

Provisions covering spouses

Types of consent and when to apply

If you need consent to buy a house or land, you should apply as early as possible. Your lawyer cannot complete a purchase until they have your Overseas Investment Office consent number.

You can apply for pre-approval to buy a property before you have found one you want to buy. This is the most flexible option and is what we recommend. Pre-approved consent lasts for up to a year and has no extra cost.

You can also apply for approval if you find a property you want to buy. If you apply for consent to buy a particular property, you do not have to buy that property – you will be given pre-approved consent for up to a year so you can buy another property instead.

If you need consent from the Overseas Investment Office you cannot buy a property at auction unless you have pre-approval. You may face significant penalties and have to sell the property if you buy it at auction without consent.

You can find a property and sign a sale and purchase agreement before you get consent, but the agreement must be conditional on obtaining consent under the Overseas Investment Act 2005. You may face significant penalties and have to sell the property if the agreement does not include this condition.

Make an application

Use our online application form to apply for consent to buy or build one home to live in.

Apply

Time to process applications

It only takes up to 10 working days to process an application for consent to buy residential-only land.

If the application includes land that is residential and otherwise sensitive, this will take up to 30 working days to process.

Read more about assessment timeframes

Residential land statement

When you are ready to buy land or a home, you will need to complete a Residential Land Statement to confirm you are eligible to buy. Your lawyer will help you do this.

Legislation

Once consent is granted

Everyone who is named in the consent must:

  • live in the property as their main home (this usually means moving in within three months of taking ownership of the property or, if building a house, within three months after construction is completed) and
  • be present in New Zealand for at least 183 days in each 12-month period after consent is granted, and
  • continue to hold a New Zealand residence class visa or continue to be an Australian or Singaporean citizen or permanent resident.

If you do not meet all these conditions, you may have to sell the land and could face penalties.

If you become a New Zealand citizen or become ordinarily resident in New Zealand these conditions will stop applying.

If you have bought a house without consent

If you should have applied for consent to buy a house but did not, you must let us know as soon as possible. For example, this could happen if you were given incorrect legal advice, or if you won an auction but did not have pre-approval.

You may be able to apply for retrospective consent. If this consent is granted, you will need to pay the usual application fee and may have to pay a penalty of up to $10,000.

Apply for retrospective consent

Buying through a trust or company

You can apply for consent to buy a home to live in through a trust or a company. The law about this is complex – you will need the help of a New Zealand property or trust lawyer.

You can only get consent if all of the people who own or control the trust or company are ‘qualifying individuals’. This means they are:

  • New Zealanders
  • ordinarily resident here
  • holders of residence class visas, or
  • Australian and Singaporean citizens and permanent residents.

Everyone who we consider to own or control the trust or company must live in the house.

More about trusts

Fees and penalties

A standard application for consent to buy residential-only land has a fee of $2,040.

Consent to buy land that is residential and otherwise sensitive has a fee of $16,900.

Other fees apply for different types of application, such as buying through a trust or company.

If you have bought a property without consent and you need to apply for retrospective consent, you may also need to pay a penalty of either $5,000 (property value under $2milion) or $10,000 (property value of $2million or more).

If you make a false statement to the Overseas Investment Office you could be fined up to $300,000.

Find information on the Overseas Investment Office fees framework and the fee for ‘one home to live in’ applications.

OIO fees and penalties

Legislation

The provisions covering people wanting to buy residential land are in the Overseas Investment Act 2005, Schedule 2, Part 2: Commitment to reside in New Zealand test.

Schedule 2, Part 2

The provisions covering spouses are in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005:

  • Regulation 58: Exemptions relating to relationship property where spouse or partner granted consent under commitment to reside in New Zealand test.
  • Regulation 45: Exemption for relationship property.

Regulation 58

Regulation 45

Relationships are defined in the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 for the purposes of the Overseas Investment Act and Overseas Investment Regulations. 

Property (Relationships) Act 1976

The provisions covering fees and penalties are in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, Schedule 2, Part 1: Applications relating to transaction in category of overseas investment in sensitive land only – residential land.

Schedule 2, Part 1

The provisions covering Australians and Singaporean citizens are in the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, Part 4: Exemptions in respect of overseas investments in sensitive land to implement obligations under international agreements.

Part 4