Unit titles legislative updates
Unit titles are most commonly used for apartments or townhouses that share amenities such as lobbies, lifts or driveways with other owners in the same building or on the same property.
The latest amendments to the Unit Titles Act 2010 came into force on 9 May 2023. These include broadening the scope of information that sellers must provide to prospective buyers, and bolstering the governance structures for body corporates that manage unit title buildings or developments.
These changes have prompted amendments in the unit title provisions in the standard ADLS Sale and Purchase Agreement. The amendments reflect the increased disclosure obligations: the wording in respect of the warranties has been updated to expressly refer to any pre-contract disclosures made by the seller.
The ADLS form has also been updated in respect of courses of action available to buyers where they don’t receive a pre-settlement disclosure statement at least five working days prior to settlement. The options available to buyers haven’t changed in themselves. Rather, the agreement clarifies where the buyer elects for settlement to take place without delay that this constitutes a waiver of any right for that buyer to delay or cancel the settlement.
The purchase process of unit title properties is different from buying other sorts of properties. If you are considering buying or selling a unit title property, these changes may impact on your rights or obligations.
First Home Grants thresholds increase
On 15 May 2023, the price cap thresholds across the country for Kāinga Ora’s First Home Grants (FHG) saw a number of increases. The rises were not limited to main centres; 37 areas had their price caps for new builds increased including Southland and Central Hawke’s Bay.
Similarly, the KiwiBuild caps were also raised. Notably Queenstown’s threshold increased to $845,000 and Hamilton’s rose to $860,000.
These increases reflect the rapid rise in house prices and land in the last few years which meant that in certain areas the caps were so low that they became almost inaccessible for prospective FHG applicants.
With interest rates still rising, the latest round of price threshold increases should help a wider group of first-home buyers into new or existing homes.
To find the price thresholds for existing homes or new builds in your region, click here. The Kāinga Ora website also has information on eligibility and where the territorial boundaries lie to determine which regions the thresholds apply to. We can help you in determining both your eligibility and how to access the FHG.
Loan to value restrictions eased
In November 2021, the Reserve Bank imposed more restrictions on banks in respect of their lending in order to help curb the rapid rise in house prices in the previous few years. This caused difficulty for potential borrowers (both owner occupiers and investors) to obtain finance.
Eighteen months on, the Reserve Bank has eased the previous restrictions on bank lending to lower equity borrowers and investors. The easing measures took effect from 1 June 2023.
Previously, banks could only allocate up to 10% of their total lending towards owner occupiers with a loan to value (LVR) ratio of less than 80%. The 1 June changes saw this increase from 10% to up to 15%. This means that banks now have more funds available for borrowers with smaller deposits.
With national house prices falling around 17% since the November 2021 LVR restrictions took effect, the Reserve Bank believes that the risks that prompted the tightening on bank lending to low equity buyers have reduced.
This is good news for first home buyers who may not be able to save a 20% deposit despite being in a position to service the loans required to enter the property market.
The increase in availability of loan funds for low equity borrowers, the increases to FHG price caps and a general easing of the property market could be signalling a turning of the tide for buyers.
To see how you may be able to take advantage of these market factors and get onto the property ladder, you could contact us or a lender to understand what assistance or options could work for you.
DISCLAIMER: All the information published in Property eSpeaking is true and accurate to the best of the authors’ knowledge. It should not be a substitute for legal advice. No liability is assumed by the authors or publisher for losses suffered by any person or organisation relying directly or indirectly on this newsletter. Views expressed are those of individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the view of Edmonds Judd. Articles appearing in Property eSpeaking may be reproduced with prior approval from the editor and credit given to the source.
Copyright, NZ LAW Limited, 2022. Editor: Adrienne Olsen. E-mail: [email protected]. Ph: 029 286 3650