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Reviewed by Sarah Ell

Penguin, NZ$30

Many New Zealanders’ wealth – or at least their sense of it – is tied up in property they own, whether it is the house they live in, or a rental investment. But our love affair with property has generated a number of problems: huge price rises, a housing shortage in our biggest city and fears of a bubble about to burst.

So, this book by journalist and commentator Maria Slade is well-timed. It covers the fundamentals of home-buying – that is, not buying for investment or speculation – and aims to “cut through the heat and light” surrounding the issue. 

There are many mistakes that can be made by the unwary; this book isn’t called Buyer Beware for nothing.

It covers the basics of the buying process, from researching an area, to the financial and legal aspects, due diligence and title searches. It also has a chapter on the buying process, including buying at auction and by tender. 

In these uncertain times, with developments being cancelled or stalling due to issues with finance, there is useful information about buying off the plans. Other major issues, such as leaky homes, are covered, and there is a chapter dedicated to buying in post-quake Christchurch, where there are special conditions and pitfalls to consider. The book finishes with a useful glossary, and some handy checklists for the home-buyer.

Unimaginative or not, residential property remains the path to financial security and a sense of wealth for many Kiwis. This publication would be a useful gift for a young person starting out on the property ladder, or even a less young person deciding to take the step from renting to owning, or into owning an apartment. 

Perhaps Slade’s most relevant piece of advice is not to get too emotionally involved in the process: “The fact of the matter is that the nation’s towns are full of houses, and there will always be another one.”