Real Estate Terminology Guide
Most NZ homes are listed as houses, townhouses, apartments or units and the real estate terminology seem to be somewhat interchangeable with townhouses and apartments often being the same as a townhouse or flat in a block of flats. Units seem to be everything from semi-detached bungalows through to flats. The best way to deal with this is to view photos of the property and perhaps see it in person before deciding it is or is not suitable, as the description may be misleading to an immigrant who is used to more consistent terminology.
Joint renters of a house who take a room each are called ‘flatmates’ even if sharing a fully detached house.
A furnished apartment will likely include all furniture you need for day-to-day life – beds, sofas, tables, chairs, dressers and all appliances.
Fully furnished may also mean it comes complete with dishes, cookware and linens and everything you need to live. Check with the landlord or management company to clarify.
Partially furnished apartments may include some furnishings.
Whiteware is another term for kitchen appliances. A house or apartment that includes all whiteware will have a refrigerator, dishwasher, range, oven and possibly a microwave, washer and/or dryer.
An unfurnished house or apartment generally includes a range, oven and dishwasher only.
Many New Zealand homes are not insulated, do not have double-glazed windows and do not have central heating. The term “gas heating” usually refers to a gas wall heater strong enough to heat a single room or area. Many other homes are heated only by a fireplace.
Real estate listings generally count bedrooms, living areas (separate from the kitchen) and bathrooms. A powder room with only a toilet is counted as a ½ bath. In a house with multiple bedrooms, a study or office may be counted as a bedroom, even if it doesn’t have a closet or enough room for a bed.
A rumpus room is a large, informal living area often located on the bottom floor of a house.
There is no real floor system for houses in New Zealand. Because so many areas have amazing views, primary living areas are often located upstairs to maximize them, with bedrooms downstairs. However, there are just as many traditional homes, where the entrance is on the main living level. Regardless of how a home is laid out, kitchen and living are usually on the same level.
Ensuite refers to a private master bathroom connected to the master bedroom. Older New Zealand houses usually do not have ensuite bathrooms, and in many of those that do, the ensuite has a shower only. A “family bathroom” usually includes a tub and shower. Many older or smaller houses have one family bathroom only.