Selling N.Z land to Overseas Buyers

New Zealand has a small population and is a beautiful country.  These two attributes make our land attractive to people from other countries.  Some New Zealanders take the view that selling to anybody except New Zealand citizens is a mistake.  Many reasons for this view are given and include, “selling our heritage”, “we don’t want foreigners owning our land”, “we will be controlled by foreigners”, “all the money will go offshore”, amongst others.  None of these reasons appear to be particularly compelling.  Many of them smack of “I have got something really good and I don’t want anyone else to share it”.  An attitude which may be attributed to either selfishness, insecurity or lack of understanding.

New Zealand is fortunate in having very robust legislation which both protects the right of New Zealanders to own land (first right of refusal) and gives the option for overseas people to own land in N.Z provided they comply with certain rules.  The Overseas Investment Act 2005 (OIA) (with subsequent amendments) sets out these rules.  For example, one rule is that the land must be advertised to New Zealanders for six weeks before an overseas buyer can purchase.  Given the robust rules surrounding overseas ownership and the difficulty in actually exporting the land, surely the nationality of the purchaser is irrelevant.

Comment by Martin Albrecht – Principal of goodGround Real Estate.

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