Here are my tips for what to look for when reviewing a LIM report (LIM stands for ‘Land Information Memorandum’). These are big documents and it is important to know what you should be looking for.
Please Note: This advice applies to Wellington LIM reports and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which I strongly recommend you obtain before offering on any property.
Insist on seeing a current LIM report.
We encourage all owners to provide a current LIM and around 90% do. The remaining 10% are usually advised not to provide one by solicitors (who seem to be divided on this issue). We believe the more information you have at your disposal, the easier it is for you to make an informed buying decision. We feel that providing this information up front is best practice real estate.
If you are in doubt as to the validity of a LIM provided by an owner or their salesperson, you are always welcome to order your own LIM report or put this in as a condition of your offer.
Tip 1: Ask your Solicitor to read it for you!
Yes, this will cost you money. But when you are playing Adult Monopoly it is best not to be stingy when it comes to getting the right advice. Now is not the time to try and save a few hundred dollars. Buying a house is a big deal and it will cost you a bit of money if you want to protect yourself as much as possible.
Tip 2: Review the Quick Reference Guide (usually pages 4-7):
This is like a summary page. Review each heading paying particular attention to:
– Building permits – Are there any on file?
– Building Consents – Are there any outstanding building consents? (eg. work that was consented by not signed off by Council)
– Wind zone – Basically all of Wellington is High or Very High but look out for “SED” which usually means “very sunny” in real estate speak but “very exposed and windy” to everyone else.
– Weathertightness – It will tell you if any claims or issues have been formally advised to Council here.
– Drainage – Will note if drainage issues have been reported to Council. These often occur and are usually not a big deal but worth investigating further.
These are the areas that most often contain important information relating to properties in our area.
Tip 3: Review “Supporting information” (Usually pages 9-16)
As above but delves into each heading further.
Tip 4: Permit & Consent Information.
This will have it’s own section and is often around page 47. This can usually tell you when the house was built (or at least when the original building permit was granted). It can often tell you if permits have been granted in the past for additions and alterations. If you feel that work has been done to the property which is unlikely to be covered here then you can investigate further by visiting Wellington City Council Archives.
You will need to make an appointment but I thoroughly recommend this for any property you are considering buying. They will have more information than is provided in a LIM report including original plans and consent/permit documents where available.
Tip 5: Review Completed Building Consents.
This section will only be present if more recent consents have been granted. Look to make sure a Code Compliance Certificate was granted for any work under this heading – if not then the issue may still be outstanding.
Tip 6: Public Drainage Attachments.
This image gives you an idea of where drainage pipes run on the section. It is important to note whether any pipes run directly underneath the property. If there is an issue they may need to access these pipes in future. This doesn’t happen often, but again, it’s better you know now.
Tip 7: If there is an issue, don’t panic.
Not many houses are perfect (I am yet to find one) but it is important that you know what you are buying. Always remember: Every house would sell tomorrow if price didn’t matter. So if you love a home but find it has an issue like an outstanding consent or some non-consented work, first of all, take advice from your lawyer, then ask yourself – at what price does this no longer become an issue for me? What am I prepared to pay for this home in light of the extra information I now have?
You are so much better off knowing about any potential issues before you offer and that is why we will keep trying to obtain LIM reports for properties we market and why we recommend you get professional advice from building inspectors, solicitors etc before going ahead with any purchase.