Top 5 Property Lawyers in New Zealand

Here are our picks for the top property investment lawyers in NZ.
Last Updated: 26/02/21

Introduction

Who are the top 5 property lawyers in New Zealand

If you want to buy an investment property this year, you need a lawyer to help.

Property sales are high stakes transactions, where many things can go wrong.

Great lawyers won't just file the paperwork and transfer the money to the person you're purchasing the property from.

They'll also make sure the contracts you sign don't put you at unnecessary risk. Plus, they’ll check the council documents relating to your property so you know what you’re really buying.

But, how do you tell the difference between a rock star lawyer and one that is more run-of-the-mill?

It's hard to tell unless you've worked with them before. That's why in this article we'll break down the top 5 property lawyers in New Zealand who we know are experts in their field.

What Should I Look For?

What Should You Look For From a Good Property Lawyer?

Any diligent lawyer can run the administration and conveyancing of your property.

But, if you're going to be a successful property investor, you are likely to need more than this basic set of skills.

Firstly, you'll get more value from a property lawyer if they understand complex contracts, like turnkey or build. That means they can pick up on clauses or contracts that potentially put you at a disadvantage.

You'll also want them to have an understanding of tax law, so they can advise you on how best to hold your assets, whether that is in your own name, through a trust or in a look-through company.

Because of that you'll also want them to have someone on their team who knows more about trust law than the average lawyer so you can protect your assets.

How This List Was Made

How these lawyers made the list

Because we work with hundreds of property investors from around the country each year, we at Opes Partners also get to meet many property lawyers.

Many are good … others, not so much.

All the property lawyers on this list were chosen because we've met them, worked with them, and we can hand-on-heart say we would use them again.

It's important to note this list is not in order from best to worst. All property lawyers on this list have a reputation for quality and are worth considering.

It contains lawyers from each of New Zealand's three main cities so you can find someone closest to you. Having said that, your lawyer doesn't have to be based in the same town for them to guide you through a property transaction.

#1 – Sue Foley

Sue Foley | Landley Law | Christchurch

Sue Foley is the owner and principal of Landley Law, based in Christchurch. Full disclosure, she is also the personal lawyer of Opes Partners’ Managing Director, Andrew Nicol.

"Sue is an absolute rock star. You walk into her office and papers are piled up to the ceiling. But, she is one of the most diligently organised lawyers I've ever met in my life. She doesn’t miss a beat," Nicol says.

Something unique about Sue is that in some cases she won't charge you if you seek her advice on a property and you don’t end up buying.

This is particularly useful for investors who intend to purchase multiple properties. You might sign the sale and purchase agreements on 3 different properties, seek her advice, and only buy 1 or 2. She'll then only charge you for the ones you actually purchase.

Sue is a hidden gem.

She doesn't believe in marketing. So much so that right now her website is down. That doesn't mean she's not a good lawyer or that you shouldn't use her.

It’s important to note that Landley Law has snowballed since it was founded in 2008, and it has grown to the point where you may not directly work with Sue.

However, knowing that she has oversight of her team gives us confidence that you'll still get diligent service if you work with Landley Law.

Sue has been a practising lawyer for over 20 years, being appointed to the High Court in 1997. She is also a property investor herself.

#2 – Shelley Funnell

Shelley Funnell | Henderson Reeves | Auckland

Next on our list is Shelley Funnell who operates the Auckland office of Henderson Reeves, a mid-tier law firm.

The firm has a team of 33, with most operating out of their head office in Whangarei.

That gives the Auckland office a small boutique firm's feeling but with the heft a larger team behind them.

Henderson Reeves has a transparent fee structure. Their base fee is $1,450 +GST if you buy a home in your own name with a mortgage. Additional fees and disbursements are then added, depending on your situation.

Other potential costs include:

  1. Purchasing a property using KiwiSaver: +$100
  2. Purchasing a property using a Homestart grant: +$100
  3. Purchasing a New Zealand based property from overseas: +$150
  4. Purchasing a property through a company: +$200
  5. Using a parental guarantee to secure the deposit: +$250

Bear in mind, if you are purchasing a property through a look-through company or family trust, your property accountant will usually set these entities up for you. This will incur additional fees above and beyond solicitor charges.

Shelley is a lawyer with personality … being described as a ‘fun lawyer’ on the Property Academy Podcast, which she has also previously appeared on.

The Auckland office of Henderson Reeves is based in Kingsland.

Henderson Reeves Property Lawyer
#3 – Katherine Mexted

Katherine Mexted | Convex Legal | Wellington

Katherine Mexted is the owner and principal of Convex Legal, a boutique Wellington-based law firm.

The business now comprises a team of 6, which has grown since the company started in late 2016.

Convex Legal also has a transparent pricing structure, with property transactions starting from $1300 +GST + disbursements.

Hamish, Katherine's husband, is a chartered accountant and runs Convex Accounting, Convex Legal's sister company.

Because Convex Legal is co-located with an accounting firm, the team may understand tax law and property accounting better than the average lawyer.

Convex Legal's offices are based on Willis St, in the heart of Wellington City.

Convex Legal Property Lawyer
#4 – Penny Liu

Penny Liu | Liu Legal | Wellington

Liu Legal is a relatively recent addition to the Wellington legal scene, founded in 2019 by Penny Liu.

Penny's unique in that she is believed to be the only lawyer in Wellington who is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese.

This makes Penny an excellent fit for property buyers from some parts of Asia who prefer to speak in their native language.

Because she speaks several languages, she also routinely works with clients who are based overseas.

Even if English is your first language, that experience may make her the right fit for you if you are a Kiwi who is based overseas because Penny routinely works with overseas investors.

Liu Legal is based on Victoria Street in the heart of Wellington City.

Liu Law Property Lawyer
#5 – Michelle Erasmus

Michelle Erasmus | The Conveyancing Shop | Auckland

The Conveyancing Shop is an Auckland-based firm founded in 2005 by Michelle Erasmus and Thada Chapman, specialising in property transactions.

Because this is the type of work they focus on, they conduct more property transactions than many general law firms.

That suggests they have seen a wide variety of property transactions and can still give solid advice, even in unique situations.

Michelle is highly involved with and is the recommended lawyer for the Auckland Property Investors Association.

This background working with investors means she understands property investors' specific needs a little more thoroughly than your average lawyer.

This tight team of 8 has two offices, based out of Botany and Pukekohe.

Conveyancing Shop Legal Property Lawyer
Which one should I use?

Which property lawyer should I use?

Having got to the end of this list, you may be wondering "which of these property lawyers should I use?"

The truth is each professional will give you quality advice and will have a team that can diligently file your paperwork. That's why these firms made this list.

But there are small differences that may make a slightly better fit, depending on your individual situation and what you prefer.

For instance, if you are based in Christchurch, you may prefer to use Sue Foley from Landley Law, given that she is the only lawyer on this list based in the South Island.

If you're in the North Island and value meeting face-to-face with a lawyer, perhaps another from this list may be the right fit for you.

Similarly, the size of the firm you work with will indicate how much talk-time you'll get with the property lawyers named on this list.

If that's important to you, you might prefer a smaller firm. If not, then one of the larger firms will be fine.