Are you longing to purchase your own slice of heaven in Aotearoa? If the New Zealand foreign ownership rules seem daunting to you and you would like assistance navigating the murky waters of the Overseas Investment Act, you're not alone!

If you're wanting to buy a house in New Zealand, but are not a New Zealand citizen you will more than likely need the consent of the New Zealand government.

Who doesn't need consent?

The lucky ones that won't need consent are:

  • New Zealand citizens living anywhere in the world,
  • anyone ordinarily resident in New Zealand,
  • Australian or Singaporean citizens who wish to purchase residential land,
  • the partner or spouse to someone that meets the above criteria.

"ordinarily resident" means someone who has been living in Aotearoa for at least 12 months, and has been present in NZ for 183 days of those months (thanks to Covid-19 this shouldn't be too hard), and someone who hold a New Zealand residence class visa, and are a New Zealand tax resident.
"residential land" is land with the classification of residential or lifestyle (think traditional living).

Who does need consent?

If you are not one of the above then you'll either need consent or are out of luck. If you are not ordinarily resident (see above) you can get consent if

  • you have a New Zealand residence class visa; or
  • are an Australian or Singaporean permanent resident; or
  • you are an Australian or Singaporean citizen wanting to purchase otherwise sensitive land.

If you want to find out more about sensitive land you can do so here.

Those in New Zealand on a working or student visa, here on holiday and don't want to leave, or are just a regular overseas person, are all currently unable to purchase land here.

So, I need consent - it is easy?

Yes. And no. Like most legal questions, the answer to this is "it depends".

If you are buying a house to live in, on residential land, then the consent will cost $2,040 and the process is relatively straightforward. However, if you are looking to buy a 20 hectare farm for the three generations with a price tag in the seven digits, and you are looking to permanently move to NZ, then it will cost $29,500. In this case the process will also need more work, time, and legal expertise.

Once you have consent, then you need to make that property your main home, be present in New Zealand for at least half the calendar year following purchase and continue to hold the visa or citizenship that enabled you to purchase.

What if I've already entered into an Agreement (or have bought the land) without consent?

Depending on the offending, you could be facing a penalty of $5,000 for retrospective consent or be forced to sell the land, pay a large sum of money and put your visa at risk.

To avoid the headache and/or heartbreak, we recommend three golden rules:

  • Make the agreement conditional upon OIA consent (if you miss this step and the agreement is signed, then without the Vendor's help you may be getting fined).
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get the consent (It will take longer than you think it should.
  • Most importantly - send us an email and get our help with the process

For help on buying property in NZ, Michael O'Flaherty is your expert: