Posts Tagged ‘House Buying’

Sun Aspect of NZ Houses – Does the House Get Sun?

How do you work out if the house you are looking to buy gets any sun? Read on to find out the answer to this very important question when buying a house in NZ.

Does the House Get Sun?

The first house I ever bought had a lovely sunny deck and sun streaming into windows when I bought it in March – but spending the winter looking enviously at houses over the street basking in sunshine while my house did not get one single speck of sun for 3 months (due to an inconvenient hill…) was not fun...

I made it a mission from then on to find out all about the sun when I bought a house and now I am going to give you a few tips and tricks as to how to get a good idea of sun.

What parts of the house and section that get sun come down to three things, compass orientation, time of the year, and obstacles.

Compass Orientation

This is the most important. To find out your houses compass orientation, find north, you can usually work this out using a street map. All maps, including Google maps are orientated with north straight up. Now work out how your house is orientated around this north point.

The north facing side of your house is going to be the sunniest side; the sun comes around from east to west during the day, spending the most time shining on a houses north facing exterior walls.

The eastern and western house sides will get morning and afternoon sun and the south facing side of your house will get a small amount of early morning or late afternoon sun at the peak of summer – i.e. south facing sides get basically no sun. External walls that are moss coated are often a south facing give away.

Time Of The Year

During the summer the sun is higher in the sky and will penetrate into rooms of your house less. During the winter, the sun is lower in the sky and will often shine further into rooms because of this lower angle.

The sun is also lower in the morning and afternoon at all times of the year, so eastern and western sides of your house will get more penetrating sun. The sun moves from nearly south-east to nearly south-west at the height of summer (taking 15 hours) and moves from nearly north-east to nearly north-west (taking 9 hours) mid winter.

As a rough guide – the sun is half the height in the sky mid winter then it is mid summer and around 12-1pm is when the sun is at it’s highest (zenith) – good time for an open home...


Backing onto a hill, a big tree, a large neighbouring building can all have an effect on your sun. They may not have a major affect all year, but it is usually the effect of these obstacles in the winter (just when you appreciate all the sun you can get) that can really impact your enjoyment of a house.

Sunlight is one of the hardest, if not impossible things to change about a house – so it pays to work sun out when you are looking at buying new house.

Some Final Sunny Tips

The neighbours (on the same side of the street!) may be able to give you some sun insight, or you could drive by the house at different times of the day to check out the sun.

Another good way to get to know sun is to think about the house you live in now, what's its compass orientation? Where does the sun comes in to that house and when? If you can superimpose what you know about sun in your current house, on a new house, you can get a good picture of sun.

Does The House Get Sun - Sun Aspect of NZ Houses

The Propertytoolbox Home Buyers Guide

Want to know more about sun, or just want the technical bits so you can use your compass? We expend on this info in the Propertytoolbox website – the ‘Here Comes The Sun Guide’. You can even buy a comprehensive guide to it all to take with you with the Sun Guide eBook. Just after more advice and info? Head to our Home Buyers Guide.

Property Valuation – 2010 Blog Highlights

The launch of the website was a big highlight of the Propertytoolbox year and because the website gives you the ability to read about, compare and choose your local property valuers we showcased the property valuation profession in the Blog. These articles were our best bits about property valuation in the Propertytoolbox Blog for 2010:


Because Propertytoolbox is all about giving NZ home buyers independent advice and information that will help them make good house buying decisions we decided to create a website that helps you choose a property valuer. By profiling your local property valuers makes your choice of valuer a lot easier. We currently only have Wellington valuers on the website but over the coming months we will get representation from valuers from all over NZ – exciting stuff!! Check out our Wellington property valuers profiles here. And read more about what we intend to achieve with this website in our Blog article ‘Property valuation NZ – helping you find a property valuer’.

2. Property Valuers – How Else Can They Help?

Don’t property valuers just value property for your bank? No! Property valuers have a wealth of information about suburbs, planning, building etc and can really help you out with house buying advice in the form of property consultations. This Blog article ‘Property valuers – useful for more than just a market value’ explains all.

3. Working Out Market Value

How does the property valuer work out market value? A lot of analysis and technique goes into finding out the market value of a house – you may be surprised! This Blog article attempts to explain what is involved – ‘How does the valuer work out the market value?’ Want to find out more about property valuation? Check out the Propertytoolbox property valuation guide – or browse around on the website.

Your Property Lawyer – 2010 Blog Highlights

Your property lawyer has an important part to play in the house buying process and lawyers rated a mention in many a Blog article in 2010. Here are the articles that highlight how helpful (and essential) a lawyer is when buying a house – read on and you will realise why it is a good idea to get a quality property lawyer early on in the house buying process and then make good use of them!

1. Your Property Lawyers Tips on House Buying Traps

Your property lawyer has experience in multiple house buying and selling transactions. They know all about what can go wrong, what things most commonly do go wrong, and what mistakes people make. This article has info on what a property lawyer thinks are the most common traps of house buying.

2. The Title Search

Here at Propertytoolbox we think it is really important to get a title check done really early on when you are thinking about buying a house - it is a cheap (and quite often free - if you have a nice lawyer) way of find out a lot about a property - it can really save you time and money as sometimes the title holds a few surprises! We tell all in this article 'A property title search - what is it?'

3. Lawyers & Settlement

Just what is your lawyer up to on settlement day? This is your lawyers big day in the house buying process - though they have helped you out with advice and a few checks up to this point - settlement day is the day where all the action happens! So just what happens? Find out here in our article on 'What happens on settlement day - the lawyer'.

These blog articles give some insight into what your lawyer is up to - the legal stuff re buying a house. If you want to find out more - check out the settlement section of the Propertytoolbox house buying guide.

Making An Offer – The Highlights

Making an offer on a house is quite often done too quickly and not enough is known about the kind of commitment you are about to make.

An offer on a house quickly turns into a legally binding contract – you need to be aware of this – you will not be able to get out of a contract once it goes unconditional – so make sure you know what you are doing when you make an offer!

Making an Offer - the Highlights

In the Propertytoolbox Blog we have often delved into the subject of making an offer - here are our highlights:

1. Tendering on a House

We had a lot to say on this subject so we created a 3 part series on the tendering process. Firstly we covered off ‘Making a tender on a house - What is a tender' then we went into detail on 'Making a tender on a house - Putting in your tender’ and then we did the after match analysis in ‘Making a tender on a house - After your tender has been made’. Reading this series will let you in on the mysteries of the tendering process.

2. The Sunset Clause

A sunset clause is a condition that can be included by you or by the vendor in a sale and purchase agreement. They are not commonly used, but can be useful. In this article ‘Sunset clauses – What are they?’ we go over why and when you may want to use a sunset clause – and why the vendor may have included a sunset clause.

3. All About Countersigning

Countersigning is common – a very large proportion of house purchase negotiations involve haggling on price and conditions – and therefore will involve countersigning – especially in today’s market. This is actually one of the most common questions we get here at Propertytoolbox. So find out all about it in our ‘What is countersigning’ article.

The Propertytoolbox Home Buyers Guide

For more tips, tricks and advice – read on in our Home Buyers Guide. And if you are about to make that offer – head straight to our ‘making an offer on a house’ section.

How Much Should I Pay For A House – 2010 Blog Highlights

Just how much should you pay for a house? This is really up to you to decide - BUT the more information you have to hand about the about the house itself, about comparable properties, about the state of the housing market, and about how all of these things will reflect on the value of the house - the more informed a decision you can make about the worth of a house.

A few Blog articles in 2010 touched on things that might help you work out the value of a house and here they are again for you to browse over:

1. How Much Should I Pay For A House?

This article has links to a number of resources you can use to work out market value and gives some tips and suggestions on what you should think about when you are working out the price you want to pay for a house. So if you are trying to work out the money bit check out the article ‘How much should I pay for a house?

2. The RV and House Price

The RV of a house can be a bit of a wild card when it comes to working out what a house is worth – sometimes it is best to ignore the RV altogether – while other times it can be spot on! In our article ‘Is the RV a price guide’ we tell all about what the RV is and how it can (or can’t) be use to determine market value.

3. What Are House Prices Doing?

There are many things that can influence the housing market – the state of the economy, interest rates and house prices themselves are the obvious ones. In this Blog article we point you towards some good analysis of factors influencing the housing market – there are some things in here that may surprise you! Check it out – ‘House prices in NZ – where are they going?

This is the last Propertytoolbox Blog article for 2010 – we will be back in the middle of January with some more great highlights from 2010 – and we are looking forward to bringing you some more meaty house buying information in the Blog in 2011. Don’t forget – you can always reference the house buying guide for good basic house buying advice anytime you need it. See you next year!

Before Making an Offer – 2010 Blog Highlights

Making an offer on a house is a big step! The first time you make an offer can be quite nerve wracking! Here are some of this years best articles from the Propertytoolbox Blog that have tips, tricks and advice for you before you make that offer.

1. Take Your Time!

This is the best advice we can give – take your time, don’t be rushed. This is probably the biggest financial decision of your life so don’t hurry into it. We talk more about this in ‘Sleep On It!’ – which is part of our 10 key rules before you make that offer. And we delve a little bit deeper in the blog article ‘I Want To Buy A House - Take Your Time’.

2. Thinking About Getting The Experts In…

Should you get a building report, a valuation and a council LIM before you make an offer? This can be a tough one to decide. We talk about the pros and cons of getting these reports before making an offer in the article ‘Should I Get a Building Inspection, a Valuation and a LIM Before Making an Offer’ it could help you decide.

3. Question The Agent

The real estate agent will know stuff about the house, and if you ask they are obliged to tell you. So make sure to ask! This can be a helpful short cut to finding out information about the house that could affect your offer. Depending on the agent they can be a real mine of information – make the most of this. Here are the Propertytoolbox recommendations on what to ask in ‘Questions to Ask the Agent’.

4.  Ten Things To Look At When Viewing A House

Make sure you make the most of your house viewings. Right from the beginning, if you find yourself interested, start taking note of the things that really matter to you, things that will affect price, and that may be a deal breaker – no point wasting time! We have a top 10 things to look at blog article that gives you a place to start in ‘House Viewing Checklist – 10 Quick Visual Checks’.

There is a whole lot more good advice if you are thinking about making an offer on a house in the Propertytoolbox house buying guide – make sure to check out the I've found a house and making an offer sections.

House Buying Advice – My Propertytoolbox Top Five

The Propertytoolbox Blog has been full of great stuff this year. I have my own personal favourites and I thought I would share them with you. These articles were ones that I thought had some really helpful and useful information – giving you some key knowledge that could help you to make good house buying decisions! And that is, after all, what we are all about here at Propertytoolbox.

My Propertytoolbox Top Five

1. Scrim and Sarking.

This 4 part series of articles was packed full of information on Scrim and Sarking (a common wall lining in NZ houses). We started with explaining what Scrim and Sarking is and how to identify it. Then we went on to discuss why you need to think about replacing Scrim & Sarking wall linings. This article was followed by one on re-gibbing and what that involves and then finally on to the cost of replacing Scrim and Sarking wall linings. The series had some fantastic photos too, this was my favourite photo of the year.

Layers Of Wallpaper On Scrim

2. The OCR

The OCR (Official Cash Rate) is an important part of your life when you have a mortgage – and it really helps to understand what it is about when you are deciding about fixing or floating your home loan. Our article ‘The OCR and Your Home Loan Interest Rate’ talks all about it – so have a read and maybe the OCR will not longer be a mystery!

3. Viewing a House – 10 Quick Checks

The advice in this article could save you a lot of time and energy! In it we list 10 quick visual checks you can do when you go to view a house. These few checks can give you some insight into things that you may have missed otherwise and may only come to light at future viewing or even in a building inspection as part of an offer.

4. Costs of Home Ownership

Sometimes only the full impact of the financial commitment of home ownership becomes clear when it is too late. This explains all, and may highlight things/costs you haven’t even thought of. It always pays to make any house buying decision fully informed so this article ‘House Maintenance Budget? Costs of Home Ownership’ is a must read.

5. Property Valuation

So you want a property valuer? How about a website that profiles your local property valuers allowing you to compare, choose and contact them? does all that! was launched by Propertytoolbox this year and I think it provides an awesome service for home buyers in NZ – find out more about it in the Blog article ‘Property Valuation NZ – Helping You Find a Property Valuer’.

So there you have my top five. Over the next few weeks we will be going over more of our ‘Best Bits’ from the Propertytoolbox Blog for this year. Do you want more great house buying information right now? Head straight to our house buying guide.

Questions to Ask the Agent – Part 2 we started talking about questions to ask the agent when you are interested in a house you are viewing. We focused in that blog post on direct questions related to the price and reasons for selling. This blog post we are getting into the condition of the house and other physical factors that may affect the house’s value and suitability of the house for you.

6. What is that condition of the house? - This is really important to get an insight into - Have any of the - Piles, Wiring, Interior Lining, Roof, Exterior and Plumbing been re-done. Tip – a partial re-wire, re-pile etc usually means a couple of things have been replaced and most likely means that more work is necessary.

7. Has there been any work done? Is it all permitted? This is one of the questions which the agent may (choose to) not know anything about – ask them if they asked the vendor about permits for an extension, knock-thru etc

8. Where are the boundaries? Are the fences on the boundaries? – Sometimes the boundaries are not where fences are and garages can be on road reserve (council land) so it pays to find out. Even if the real estate agent doesn’t know exactly where the boundaries are – they should know if there are any potential issues with boundaries.

9. What things (chattels) are included or not included? – Never assume that all the attached furnishing, like shelves and lights are going to be included in the sale – especially if you particularly like a chattel – check that it is going to be left behind.

10. Is there anything I should know? Anything that may affect value?  - You never know what the vendor is aware of that may affect your perception of the house and its value. This is probably the most important question to ask! An agent is obliged to tell you anything about a house that they are aware of that could affect its value, whether this is building issues (leaky building!) or local development (childcare centre is opening next door).

Remember to always independently check the claims of the real estate agent. An agent is not a building inspector, valuer or an expert on the building act or local council regulations. So if you are serious about buying - get the experts in!

Questions to Ask the Agent – Part 1

One of the first groups of people you meet on your house hunt is real estate agents. As you start looking they will be dealing with your enquiries to see houses and showing you through homes. This two part blog series aims to give you some good questions to ask the agent so you can get an insight in to the house and its value.

If you are viewing a house and find yourself interested, it is time to start asking the real estate agent some questions – they are likely to know some relevant information about the house, and surrounds, so make use of this source of knowledge.

But! Remember the agent is working for the vendor – so they are likely to emphasise the positive about the house and area and will tend to leave out the negative points. Therefore, noting what the real estate agent avoids talking about, says they know nothing about, or omits completely from the conversation are probably the most important things to know about - so reseach them!

These price related questions are a good place to start when talking to a real estate agent:

1. Why are they selling? If this information is available it can give some insight into the amount of negotiation you can do on price & whether settlement date is important to the vendor.

2. How long has it been on the market? Why isn't it selling? – The answer to this question can also give you some reference for price negotiation.

3. Have there been any offers? What were they? - It is good to know if there have been any offers, how much they were for, and when they were made. If time has passed – the vendor may be open to considering those same offers again.

4. How much will they take? – Just what is the vendor after? You may be surprised…

5. How much are the rates? – Handy to not have to look this one up yourself – and rates will be an ongoing monthly expense for you if you buy the house so this information is essential…

Next blog post we are going to discuss the condition of the house – and let you in on the questions that will give you an insight into aspects of the house and surrounds that may affect your perception of the house itself or the house’s value.

What to know more about house buying - the Propertytoolbox House Buying Guide has it all!

Settlement Day – What If I Settle Late?

Unfortunately settlement day sometimes has a few hitches and in a worst case scenario you could find that settlement does not occur as expected. There are many reasons that this can happen and it is usually that time just ran out for all the necessary things to be done to complete the settlement day transactions. This is particularly the case when a settlement involves a chain of house sale and purchases.

You need to prepare for this contingency. Have a backup plan, a place to stay, a few days overlap on your current accommodation. Remembering also that settlement is usually on a Friday, and if it does not occur, Monday is the next day available day for this to happen. This can be a real hassle! It is always best to give yourself a few days to move then you can be reassured that if settlement is delayed you are unlikely to be left out in the cold.

You may be liable for some costs if you do not settle on time. As a minimum there is penalty interest payable at a rate set out in your sale and purchase agreement – this rate is usually a premium interest rate far in excess of your mortgage interest rate. Additionally you could be liable for any expenses incurred by the vendor directly related to your late settlement for example storage and accommodation costs.

Sometimes, settlement may happen, but the vendor may have not moved out! There have been many people who have found themselves waiting in a moving truck outside their new home while the old owners were still moving out. This usually just means a long night of unpacking in the dark – but with a very disorganised vendor you may have to find alternative accommodation through no fault of your own.

Failing to settle, or not being able to move in when you planned, rarely happens, but if it does happen, make sure you are not left homeless!

For more tips, hints and handy advice for the house buying process – check out our house buying guide.