Buying a section is an important decision. This is where your new home will be! This is where you will look out at the views, head out for a walk and plant your garden.
When looking for the perfect section to buy, here are 10 things worth considering to help with your decision:
Get a pre-approved mortgage via your bank or a mortgage broker. That way you will know exactly what budget you have. You will need to have an idea of build costs too so that you can work out your maximum lending, take away building costs = section budget. Or alternatively you can approach it by buying your dream piece of land and adjusting your build costs to meet your budget.
To see what sections are for sale in your chosen area, start researching through real estate media such as:
- Local newspapers - especially the private sale column
But don't stop there, other ways to actively source sections for sale are:
- Drive around your desired area and look out for 'For Sale' signs.
- Advertise in your local paper or community Facebook group with what you are looking for.
- Talk to your local real estate agent and let them know what you are looking for, they can look out for sections just listed and contact you before the public.
- Find out about any new subdivisions or developments via the local media or local council. Register your interest and be ready to choose once sections are released.
- If you know of any vacant sections, you could find out who the owner is by ordering a copy of the title from www.linz.govt.nz.
What type of house do you want to build? Size, shape and budget all come into play here. If you want a house that benefits from passive heating, you will only want to look at sections which have a good north orientation. Do you want a large 4 bedroom house or is a small house ok? Where could the garage go?
Buying direct from a developer still developing new land is a great option to save money on holding costs. Usually you pay a 5-10% deposit, with settlement required when the title comes through – which could be 6-12 months away. This means you will save on paying costs on the land during this time and gives you plenty of time to plan the design and build of your future house.
Before you sign a sales contract, make sure you have a copy of the building covenants for the particular area. Are any cladding and
roof materials restricted? Can you have a fire? What are the building setbacks and height planes? Can you have a residential flat? You need to be sure that you can build your dream house on your section.
What are the recent sales in the area? A professional valuation for your property may cost upwards of $500 but can give you bargaining power. In most cases, the bank will need a valuation to approve your mortgage, so it’s worth getting it done earlier rather than later.
If the land is already surrounded by established homes then you will have an idea of your living environment. If you’re looking at bare sections, then you need to consider what it will look like when other properties have been built and what you could be in for in the future. Have any building plans been submitted to council? What are the zoning and covenant rules?
Are there any facilities within walking distance or a short drive from your home? What about shops, playgrounds, friends, parks, schools? Is it a safe area with a good community feel? You may even want to rent in an area first to see if you like the neighbourhood.
If the section has anything greater than a slight slope, you could be facing major earthworks costs to make the section flat for building. You may want to talk to an architect or designer about what design issues to consider and the associated costs, e.g retaining walls, piles, engineered foundations. Add these costs to your total build costs.
How much sun does your section get? You can download an app called ‘Sun Seeker’ which will show you the position of the sun year round. This is helpful if the section is near a hill or trees. Ideally, you want a section with a north facing aspect, so you can take advantage of passive heating in the winter.
How does it feel? Visit the section a number of times before making a decision. Can you picture yourself living here? Does it feel ‘right’? Can you visualise yourself coming home here? If the answers to these questions tick all the boxes and the section is within your budget, then go for it. Take action and make it happen!
This article is an excerpt from the Build me. ebook: Building in NZ - An Essential Guide To Building Your Own Home. Download for free when you sign up to our mailing list here.