Overseas purchasers can buy lifestyle properties


If you are an overseas purchaser looking to buy a lifestyle property in New Zealand, but aren't planning to move here immediately, then we can help you gain Overseas Investment Office approval.

We recently obtained approval from the Overseas Investment Office (“OIO”) for an overseas client to purchase a lifestyle property in Queenstown. Our client needed OIO consent as the lifestyle property was non-urban land over 5 hectares in size.  The twist was that the client was busy working overseas and didn’t plan to move to New Zealand until he retired in several years’ time.

The OIO granted approval permitting our client to buy the land.  The OIO’s approval included a condition that gave our client six years to become ordinarily resident in New Zealand. If our client doesn’t move to New Zealand within that six year period, he will be required to sell the land.

The OIO has a particular approach to applications to acquire lifestyle properties.  An application must show the following:

  • The purchaser has experience in purchasing and owning a residence. This is a very basic criteria and is easy to satisfy.

  • The lifestyle property has been advertised on the open market.

  • The purchaser has made a commitment to the investment. The OIO is likely to accept a copy of the executed Agreement for Sale and Purchase in satisfaction of this requirement. Any additional financial commitment, such as instructing an architect or planner to undertake preliminary work on the lifestyle property, is also good evidence of a financial commitment.

  • The purchaser meets the OIO’s good character requirements.  In general terms, this means no criminal convictions.

  • The purchaser intends to migrate to New Zealand indefinitely. If the purchaser can demonstrate this, then the OIO does not require them to show that the investment is likely to benefit New Zealand. The purchaser has to show a definite plan to migrate and accompanying action within a reasonable timeframe.

Generally, the OIO has required overseas persons to move to New Zealand within five years, however, our recent successful application has shown that the OIO is willing to be flexible and grant a longer period if they are satisfied the purchaser intends to migrate.

If the purchaser is an Australian citizen or the holder of an Australian permanent residence visa or current Australian returning resident visa, then the purchaser is able to become ordinarily resident in New Zealand without obtaining any additional visas or permits. If the purchaser requires visas or permits to reside in New Zealand, the application needs to include details of the purchaser’s application with Immigration New Zealand.

Fees and Timeframes

The OIO currently charges a non-refundable application fee of between $19,500 to $22,500, depending on the classification of the land being purchased.

In terms of consent processing times, the OIO’s guidelines say that they will process all consents within 70 working days. Our client’s application was processed much more quickly than this, with the application accepted by the OIO in late November 2013 and consent issued mid January 2014.

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Copyright © Cavell Leitch. All rights reserved. Redistribution is only permitted with express written permission. For enquiries please contact us. This article by its nature cannot be comprehensive and cannot be relied on by clients as advice. It is provided to assist clients to identify legal issues on which they should seek legal advice. Please consult the professional staff of Cavell Leitch for advice specific to your situation.