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Story: Real estate

Almost one in 10 of New Zealand’s 1.5 million homes is bought and sold every year. A house is the biggest investment most Kiwis have. That makes the real estate industry big business, especially when you take into account rural, lifestyle and commercial property sales.

Story by Bob Hargreaves
Main image: A successful private sale

Story Summary

All images & media in this story

The real estate business deals with buying and selling land and buildings. In 2007 there were around 1.5 million dwellings (houses, flats and apartments) in New Zealand. Nearly 150,000 (one in 10) are bought and sold every year.

Most New Zealanders live in stand-alone, single-family homes in towns and cities. In 2009 Auckland and Queenstown were the most expensive places to buy houses.

Real estate agents also sell commercial and industrial properties, rural land and lifestyle blocks.

Real estate in the 1800s

The first real estate agents were called land agents. They bought land from Māori owners for settlement. Later they helped cities to develop by selling subdivisions for housing.

Some of the real estate companies that were started in the 1800s are still going today.

Real estate agents

Real estate agents are in business to help people sell and buy houses and land. They usually work for a company. There are laws about how real estate agents work and what qualifications they need. The agent and the company are usually paid a commission by the seller. This is a percentage of the sale price (generally 3–4%).

Selling real estate

Sellers can list their property for sale with one or more companies.

Real estate agents market the property in newspapers and on the internet. They sometimes run auctions (where potential buyers bid in person) or tenders (where written bids are handed in).

To save money, some owners choose to market and sell their property without an agent (a private sale).

Buying real estate

Before people buy real estate they usually get reports on the house or land, to make sure there aren’t any problems. Most buyers need to get a loan (mortgage) to pay for the property.

How to cite this page:

Bob Hargreaves, 'Real estate', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/real-estate (accessed 30 March 2017)

Story by Bob Hargreaves, published 11 Mar 2010