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New Service helps with Due Diligence for homes in Chch

Effective pre-purchase Due Diligence for property in post-earthquake Christchurch has been lacking with no agency to assist home buyers to navigate the very tricky minefield of the post-disaster real estate landscape.

Home buyers have had to rely on documents provided by the vendor and with no previous training or knowledge of what they are reading, most home buyers are not in a position to know whether the information provided is complete or true.

Recent stories in the media indicate that home buyers are not looking much further than the new paint and carpet in repaired homes, or, are not weighing up the risk the property may present to the inhabitants from a natural disaster or climate change point of view; nor do they have a good awareness of what their legal obligations to neighbours may be.

Unlike in previous times, Due Diligence is no longer a case of a title check and checking local amenities. Increasing Natural Disaster risk and the Sum Insured policies mean that a home buyer has a lot more investigation to do before they can feel confident about the property they are interested in.

Residential Risk Analysis Ltd has been formed to assist Cantabrians with buying an existing home in Christchurch. There have been too many stories and instances of home buyers ending up with homes they should never have bought.

Director, Melissa Heath, is a qualified insurance professional and has worked in Disaster Recovery in Christchurch and Marlborough for the last seven years with intensive hands on experience with the issue of ‘on-solds’ (homes sold in a damaged state).

Working for New Zealand’s largest insurer and leading teams involved in the reinstatement of Shared Property homes and handling claims where the policy holders were grossly underinsured, Melissa is driven to stop people from unintentionally ending up owning property that can cause long term grief.

“There is so much more that needs to be known about a property now, and understanding earthquake damage and repair reports is a daunting task” says Melissa Heath, Director of Residential Risk Analysis Ltd. “We feel we can help balance the scales of knowledge about a home for sale so that new owners don’t unintentionally end up with a lemon.”

Having worked in General Insurance for nine years, Melissa and her team have a thorough understanding of residential risk, having been personally involved with many of the damaged homes of Christchurch and beyond. With years of experience reading possibly thousands of geotechnical and structural engineering reports, and with access to additional databases, the team at Residential Risk Analysis Ltd are in a unique position to give the home buyer a thorough report on the history of the property and to raise any issues, that they identify, from a natural disaster, ownership and insurance point of view.


Despite the recent media about bad homes in Christchurch, Melissa is clear that the housing stock and homes already examined by her company, are generally in excellent condition and position, however, having a thorough Due Diligence report does give the buyer peace of mind; or notes issues that the buyer can then consider in their decision making and offer.

The need for more robust Due Diligence affects all residential properties in New Zealand now that Sum Insured policies are common place and increasing exposure to storms and other natural disasters. It is not just Christchurch that has damaged or threatened homes.

Melissa points out that it is likely that not a single home owner of the homes damaged in the storms of this summer ever considered the likelihood that their home could get damaged, when they bought the property. But those same home owners are now struggling with months, or years, of repair decisions and other unrecoverable costs. With better Due Diligence and awareness of the location of the property, Melissa hopes that future home buyers can avoid these same tragedies.

In coming months, Melissa will be releasing a book on how to complete real and effective Due Diligence to make sure the house purchased is the right house for the owner, their family, their wellbeing and their investment.


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