Buying or Selling a House — Our Recommendations

Solicitor’s Approval

We do not support the current practice of many Real Estate agents to insist that you sign an agreement to buy the house you like before you receive legal advice. We very often see real estate agreements with a clause saying that it is subject to our approval. The real estate agents placate the signing party’s fears by saying that that clause is a protection if something is wrong with the agreement.

It is not any such thing.

Once you have signed there are limits as to what we can do to extricate you from an unsatisfactory agreement — see us first. It does not cost much more, if anything, and invariably you’ll find that the advice we give pays dividends.

Real estate agents do no want house agreements ‘cluttered’ (in their eyes) with clauses. They view our insisting on their inclusion as being an unwarranted usurpation of their skill and wisdom.

It is nothing of the sort.

Each lawyer acts for only one party and is scrupulous to ensure that only that party’s interests are promoted. We are paid whether the deal goes through or not and a failure for us is nowhere near as financially crippling as for an agent. Any clause we include is invariably there for a very good reason.

Lim Clause

One very popular clause these days is a LIM (Land Information Memorandum) clause. That enables a purchaser to make enquiries with the local Council to find out if there is anything wrong with the property that the lawyer couldn’t otherwise discover. In extreme cases there can be illegal buildings, demolition orders, poisonous fill, future road widening, illegal swimming pools and many more. Lesser things may not worry you once you find out about them but we believe it is at least nice to know about them before you are committed to the property. You can renegotiate the price if needs be and, if you wish, withdraw. In our experience, real estate agents either actively discourage a LIM condition or write an ineffectual one — see us first.

If you are selling your property, we heartily recommend you obtain a LIM report yourself. You will then be able to give a copy to any interested purchaser and thereby avoid the need for the three week delay while your buyer obtains one. Again, contact us as soon as you decide to sell and we can make the arrangements.

Listing Advice

We also find that we can give valuable advice about listing your property. We often hear of clients who have listed their property for too long, listed as a sole agency when a general one would have been more appropriate or vice versa, or have failed to notice some of the barbs that occur in almost all listing authorities.

One way to avoid those pitfalls is to list your property with our real estate division. It is established with an emphasis on ethical and fair dealing for vendors. Go to that part of this website for more information and then obtain a copy of Neil Jenman’s brochure “The 18 Worst Mistakes Made By Home-Sellers”.

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Unless you have expertise in building construction we believe it is wise to have a condition report done on the buildings. For a few hundred dollars you will have obtained a comprehensive report. If you are spending $300,000 or more on buying a property it is a good investment which might save you thousands of dollars when you move into the property. We can draw up a clause for insertion in your agreement which is effective and will protect you and we also are able to recommend the right person for the job – see us first.


HowToLaw is New Zealand's leading self-help legal web site.

The site provides general legal information for New Zealanders, presented in a "HowTo..." format.