Buying a home can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. It’s important to equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can about a property before making any big decisions.

A land information memorandum (LIM) gives a summary of information that a council holds about a property on the day the LIM was produced. A LIM is the most comprehensive property report available from a council, which is why it’s important for potential house buyers to acquire a current one before purchasing a property. Alternatively, buyers can also make a satisfactory LIM a condition for purchase. 

A LIM report contains useful information on a property that could inform your decision to buy, as well as help you to avoid future surprises. It can give you more information about a property’s history­­­­­, rates, flood or erosion risk and any consent granted for work done on the property.

How to obtain a LIM report

A LIM report is prepared at your request by your local council. To find out how to make a request for a LIM, visit your local council’s website. Many councils have now made the request for a LIM report a simple online process, though you can also apply for it in person or by post. Even if your council does not offer an online order service, their website should list the cost of a LIM report and give information on how to request one.

Some councils also provide property information for free. The information available will vary, so spend some time on your council’s website to see what they provide and how much a LIM report might cost.

When applying for the LIM report, here are a few things to ask or read up on:

  • How long does it take to obtain a LIM report? (Allow up to 10 days)
  • What is the cost of a report?
  • Can I pay for a fast-track service if I need it more urgently?

What to look for in a LIM Report

A LIM report can be lengthy, but it’s important to take the time to read and understand the information it contains. If you find specific areas of concern that you want to clarify with your lawyer later, mark the pages so you don’t forget to bring it up. Remember there’s no substitute for professional expertise especially with such a big financial decision.

Checking the summary pages of your LIM report is a good place to start; this is the time to make a note of anything worth following up with your solicitor, the real estate agent, council, or other property experts. Here you can check things such as building consents and permits, drainage and weathertightness.

From there, continue onto the main part of the report for a more in-depth look. It’s useful to investigate whether the property has unpaid rates, if there’s a wind or earthquake rating, any history of flooding, the zoning, and if there are any notifications regarding neighbouring properties or infrastructure in the surrounding area.

You should carefully check permit and consent information, including whether or not a code of compliance certificate was issued for any completed works done after 1991.

Who should see the LIM report? 

As well as checking the report yourself, it’s a good idea to get your lawyer to read through it. They will be able to help you fully understand what the LIM means for the property and your future plans. They may be able to offer advice on how to handle any issues raised by the LIM. Investing in this stage of the purchase process could mean saving yourself a massive headache down the line.

Important things to remember about the LIM report

While a LIM report contains a wealth of information, it is limited to what the council is aware of and is required to include. Keep in mind that it may not cover everything in a property’s history. You can also ask the real estate agent questions about the property.

For example, if a council has not been notified of any unconsented works, unreported weathertightness issues or the fact that the property has been used for the manufacture of methamphetamine, it won’t be included on the LIM.

A LIM forms part of the homework you need to do before buying a property. It’s not a replacement for having an accredited building inspector check over a property. Prospective buyers should also know that the property file at your local council may contain other relevant information that is not included on the LIM.

Sellers can sometimes make a LIM available to prospective buyers. If this is the case, be sure to check that it is current (issued very recently) and complete.

Need more information about buying a property?

Settled.govt.nz provides in-depth, independent information about becoming a property owner. Buying a property may be the biggest financial decision you’ll make, so it’s important to educate yourself on the risks and impacts of buying property, as well as learning tips to avoid any problems on your journey. From what to ask a real estate agent, to understanding sale and purchase agreements, settled.govt.nz has all you need to know.

 

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