hitting the streets

So, you’ve worked out what type of home you want to buy, where you want to look and how much you can afford to spend. Now it’s time to go house-hunting. 

Real estate agents go to great lengths to attract as many potential buyers as possible to their listings so it’s not surprising that everywhere you turn you’ll find advertising of houses for sale, and that revenue from real estate ads is the backbone of many of our nation’s newspapers. 

Specialist real estate publications are plentiful – take down the ‘no junk mail’ sign for a while and you’ll be amazed at the number of property magazines and fliers that arrive. 

An increasingly popular method of house-hunting is via the internet. There are a few composite New Zealand websites, including Trade Me Property, the Real Estate Institute’s realestate.co.nz as well as those specific to individual real estate companies. Some sites even include a virtual tour, like open2view.co.nz – a great way to visit a home without leaving your armchair. Many of the traditional print-based newspapers and magazines also offer an online search facility.  For a look at some of the leading search sites click here.

However you search, you will eventually come into contact with real estate agents. How well you work with them will be important in finding the right house.  

Dealing with real estate agents

Trawling past real estate agency windows is a popular Kiwi pastime whether you’re in the mood for buying or not. If you are serious about buying, go in and let them know what you’re looking for. They need to know that you are a genuine buyer. If possible, work with one agent from each agency, so you don’t have to explain who you are and what you’re looking for every time you speak with them. Don’t assume that one phone call is enough. Check in with them regularly for the best results. The buyers who make the most noise get their phone calls returned first. 

 Real estate agents will usually be happy to show you around the homes they’re marketing at a time that suits you (although occasionally a seller will insist on only showing their house at scheduled open homes).  

Agents can be a valuable source of local information, but remember they’re likely to talk up the market. Not surprisingly they’re working for themselves first, their vendors second, and you – the potential buyer – third.  

They can also often let you know, in advance, of properties which are due to be listed but aren’t yet, or those with vendors who want a very discreet sale, without newspaper ads or ‘For Sale’ signs on the front fence.  

Driving around the neighbourhood you are interested in will let you see any ‘For Sale’ signs in the front gardens of properties. If you see a house you love but which isn’t obviously for sale, you could always trying knocking on the door (or leaving a note) and asking the owner if they would be interested in selling. With the certainty of getting some doors slammed in your face comes the chance that you’ll get one positive response and maybe even a bargain.  

Before you talk to any agents, decide what price range you’ll tell them you’re looking in. Some buyers are adamant about not giving any indication of their price range at all, however this is an unnecessary paranoia and just as unhelpful as the agent not giving a potential price range estimate for the property for sale.  


This is an extract from The Streetwise Home Buyer. The full chapter covers much more and you can download it below for free.

  • Questions to ask the agent 
  • Open Homes 
  • Private Sales 
  • Using a Mouse to Buy a House