Agreement – The written contract for the sale and purchase of a property. Its full title is ‘Agreement for Sale & Purchase’. In 2009 changes were made to the Agreement for Sale & Purchase. The Auckland
District Law Society (ADLS) updated its existing Agreement form, and the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) introduced its own new Agreement. Either form can be used. The Agreement is a binding document: once signed you are bound by its conditions.

Auction – Potential buyers bid against each other to buy a property at a public sale. Auction sales are always unconditional, and usually a 10% deposit is required on the fall of the hammer.

BEO (Buyer Enquiry Over) – A term often used in real estate advertisements giving potential purchasers a guide of the minimum price expected by the sellers.

Body corporate – Used in relation to apartment blocks, the body corporate is the owners’ group that supervises the building maintenance, collects and pays the insurance premiums, runs the block, supervises the use of common areas, etc.

Caveat – A warning notice registered against the title to the land that another party may have an interest or right on that property.

Caveat emptor – A Latin phrase meaning ‘Let the buyer beware’.

Certificate of Title – An electronic document showing legal ownership of a block of land or an interest in land. Also known as a ‘CT’ or simply ‘title’.

Chattel – An item of moveable property, such as carpets, curtains, stove, etc which are included in the sale price of a property. Chattels to be included in the house sale must be listed individually in the Agreement. A property valuation is usually made without taking the value of the chattels into account.

CCC (Code Compliance Certificate) – Issued by a local authority building officer or other official, stating the building work complies with the provisions in the Building Act and the building permit issued
for the work.

Commission – Percentage of the sale price paid to the real estate agent by the seller. Commission usually ranges between 2.5-4.5% and is often negotiable.


Conditional/Unconditional – The Agreement allows for both ‘conditional’ and ‘unconditional’ contracts. An unconditional agreement is not bound by any conditions such as finance approval, LIM Report,
etc. A conditional contract has conditions attached to it, such as finance being confirmed.

Contract – Also known, in this context, as ‘the Agreement’. A contract is a binding and enforceable agreement between two or more parties. See ‘Agreement’.

Conveyancing – In this context, the work carried out by lawyers to transfer property from one person or entity to another.

Covenant – An agreement to abide by a particular condition, for example, an undertaking not to fence the front portion of a plot of land.

Cross-lease – The building is leased and the share of the land the building occupies is owned.

Deposit – A proportion of the purchase price (usually 5-10%) is paid by the buyer when either the Agreement is signed or the Agreement conditions are met.

Disbursements – Disbursements are out-of-pocket expenses (such as title search and registration fees) incurred by a lawyer, on a client’s behalf, and reimbursed to the lawyer by the client.

Discharge – When a mortgage is discharged, it is repaid in full and formally removed from the title (hence ‘clear’ title).

District Plan – A statutory planning document outlining land use and zones. Issued by a local authority.

Easement – A right over the property of another, such as a drainage easement over a neighbouring property, or a right-of-way.

E-dealing – The term given to electronic land registration in New Zealand. Since 2009 all land registrations have been carriedout electronically.

Encroachment – An unauthorised extension over a boundary of land, for example, by building on the property of a neighbour.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA or EPoA) – A legal ability to manage someone’s affairs on their behalf. An EPA is usually used if a person becomes physically or mentally incapable of managing their own affairs. There are two types of EPAs: Personal Care and Welfare, and Property. Special rules apply to signing and witnessing EPAs.


Equity – The amount of the property value that the owner actually owns outright, rather than owes to a lender. For example, a property may be worth $500,000; the mortgage owed is $150,000; therefore the owner’s equity is $350,000.

Fee Simple – Title to a property where there are no restrictions in the manner in which it can be held, kept or inherited.

Fixtures and fittings – A fixture is an item that cannot be removed from the land or building without damage, such as a built-in bookcase.

A fitting is an item that can be removed from a property without causing damage, such as lampshades.

Freehold – Usually refers to land on which there is no mortgage or other debt.

GV – The abbreviation for ‘Government Valuation’, now replaced with ‘Rating Valuation’.

Joint Family Home (JFH) – Established by the Joint Family Homes Act 1964, a JFH provides limited protection (currently $103,000) against claims of creditors on a property following special registration
procedures. This is currently available to married couples only.

Joint tenancy – Two or more people own the property. On the death of one of the owners, that person’s share automatically passes to the surviving owner/s.

Landonline – Website providing property professionals with secure access to New Zealand's titles register. It is maintained by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).

Leasehold – Land which is rented (or leased) from an owner.

Licence to occupy – The occupier of a property does not actually own the property, although has the right to occupy it by signing a licence. Frequently used in retirement homes.

LIM Report – A Land Information Memorandum Report is issued by a local authority giving details about the property such as rates owing, consents and drains. The council will release a property’s LIM Report on payment of a fee which varies from district to district. A LIM Report is used for a property with an existing building.

LINZ – Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is a government department responsible for land titles, geodetic and cadastral survey systems, topographic information, hydrographic information, managing
Crown property and a variety of other functions. All titles to land are registered at LINZ.


LIR – A Land Information Report (LIR) is issued by a regional authority giving details relating to the physical and natural resources relevant to a property. It is usually obtained for a rural property and may cover flooding, contamination and water issues.

Matrimonial property agreement – Now replaced with ‘relationship property agreement’.

Mortgage – A charge over the property of another given as security for a loan; usually required by a lender as security for a loan. ‘Mortgage’ is the commonly used term for a home loan. There are various types of mortgages: table, reducing or interest-only.

Mortgagee – The lender taking a mortgage.

Mortgagor – The borrower giving the mortgage.

Nominee – The person nominated by a buyer. Under the Agreement form currently used, the buyer named is personally liable to complete the contract.

Option – An agreement giving the buyer the right to acquire the property from the seller. Often it refers to an agreement which at first sight appears binding, but has so many conditions that it is unlikely
(objectively) to be made unconditional and which prevents a seller from continuing to market the property.

PIM Report – A Project Information Memorandum (PIM) Report is issued by a local authority giving detailed features of the land that are known to the council, such as the storm water system and any statutory authorisations which must be obtained before any construction work begins. A PIM Report is most likely to be used for a bare plot of land, whereas a LIM Report is issued for a property with an existing building or house.

Pre-nuptial agreement – Now replaced with a ‘relationship property agreement’ or ‘contracting out’ agreement. It is occasionally called an ‘ante-nuptial agreement’ or colloquially as a ‘pre-nup’. A property agreement entered into (and signed) before a couple is married, or before an unmarried couple starts sharing property assets.

Possession date – The date on which the buyer physically takes possession of the property. The possession date can be different from the settlement date.

Power of Attorney – Written authority where one person is authorised to act for another and sign documents on their behalf. It is not the same as an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Property sharing agreement – An agreement by people who are not in a relationship, but own property together.

Purchaser – Buyer.

Rating Valuation (RV) – The new name for the old ‘Government Valuation’ issued by Quotable Value New Zealand or a similar agency.

Relationship property agreement - An agreement between two people in a relationship that determines
the manner in which property is owned if the concept of sharing, set out in the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, does not apply. See ‘Pre-nuptial agreement’ above.

Right-of-way – Access to one property over another property. The rightof-way will be recorded on the title of both properties. Settlement date – The date on which a property is fully paid for. It is
usually also the date of possession, but not necessarily so.

Tenants in common – A form of land ownership in which several owners have undivided possession of the land so that none of them is entitled to exclusive possession of any part of the land. On the death
of one of the owners, that person’s share passes according to their Will. If there is no Will, the property is disposed of according to the rules of intestacy.

Tender – Prospective buyers make written bids, however the seller is not required to accept any of the bids. In an ‘open tender’ the bids are opened when received – there is no deadline. A ‘closed tender’ has a due date and none of the bids are opened until the specified date and time. Sometimes the bids in a closed tender are called ‘sealed bids’.

Tenure – The manner in which property is held, for example, leasehold or fee simple.

Term – The period over which a loan is to be repaid to the lender or the length of time of a lease.

Unconditional – An offer made on a property with no conditions, or when all the conditions have been met in an Agreement the property goes ‘unconditional’. Auction sales are made on an unconditional basis.

Unit title – Where apartments or flats are individually owned as a unit title, but common areas (driveways, etc) are owned and administered by the body corporate.

Vendor – Seller.


Please contact Tina McLennan, Anna Ferguson or Jo McLennan for more information.