On 8 September 2021 many New Zealanders will wake up to a bit more freedom with much of the country moving to Alert Level 2. In this article we answer your common questions as to how buying and selling properties works during Alert Level 2.

Can a property be marketed for sale under Alert Level 2?

Yes, real estate agents can operate in full and market a property if the requirements for gatherings, hygiene, mask-wearing, physical distancing, and record-keeping are followed.

Are open homes allowed under Alert Level 2?

Yes, open homes will be allowed if the requirements for gatherings, hygiene, physical distancing, and contact tracing are followed. Records will need to be kept of all visitors, and again they’ll need to follow social distancing protocols including signing in, wearing face masks, sanitising their hands, and remaining more than two metres apart from others. We suspect in practice that many agents will operate a “one in, one out” model.

Will auctions be running under Alert Level 2?

Auctions are allowed at Alert Level 2 on the basis that no more than 50 people attend the auction if it is held indoors (auctions will be limited to 100 attendees if the auction is held outdoors). However, you also need to consider physical distancing and ensure that you can maintain a two-metre distance between each person attending. Your details must also be recorded for contact tracing purposes.

Sellers will also have other options instead of auctions such as deadline sales, price by negotiation and offer and acceptance via pricing a property.

How can sale and purchase agreements be signed under Alert Level 2?

Both the Vendor and Purchaser can meet in person to sign the contract if you abide by the guidelines for hygiene, contact tracing and two metre distancing.

Cavell Leitch’s offices will re-open at Alert Level 2 and we will provide a safe and hygienic environment for our clients if they wish to visit us in the office. Alternatively, we can present you with a few options which will allow you to sign the necessary documents from the comfort of your own home.

We suggest that it will be important that your lawyer reviews the contract before you sign (if possible) to ensure that there is a clause inserted to address how settlement will occur if the alert level changes. This will be particularly important if you are selling and buying properties which are in separate regions that have different alert levels.

Can contracts go unconditional under Alert Level 2?

Yes, contracts can be confirmed and go unconditional under Alert Level 2. This can be done over the phone or via email.

Property inspectors, builders, valuers, engineers, and other tradespeople can carry out site visits at any time with the consent of the Vendor and Tenants (if applicable) if they comply with the health requirements for Alert Level 2.

Banks and insurers also remain operating during all Alert Levels and can process finance and insurance applications. Due to the current circumstances, it may be that applications take a little longer to process than they would normally, so please talk to the agent and your lawyer about making sure you allow yourself enough time.

Can I move homes under Alert Level 2?

Buyers and sellers can move homes within or between regions that are at Alert Level 2, again provided you comply with the health requirements of Level 2.

If you need to move regions, you can transfer into, out of, and through a region that is still at Alert Level 3, but you will not be able to leave regions which are still at Alert Level 4. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your specific circumstances.

Can property settlements be completed under Alert Level 2?

Settlements can be completed, and pre-settlement inspections carried out on the basis that the health requirements are met by the agent and the purchaser and contact tracing has been completed by all involved.

Our advice for now

Cavell Leitch experts are happy to assist both vendors and purchasers (as well as agents) with their queries about buying and selling. We are ready to assist you with your specific situation. Please contact a member of Cavell Leitch’s property team for assistance.

Disclaimer: as this is an ever-evolving situation, our summary of the legal position is subject to change. For updates please contact a member of Cavell Leitch’s property team