This forum is the best, both for information and also for realizing you are not the only one feeling like you might be in over your head!! Thanks for the great responses. Smiler, I will start emailing more in addition to seeing houses. It's easier to ask from my armchair anyway. And Pineapplehead, I think if I can get over feeling like my questions are idiotic, and start talking to the agents more, they will share a lot more info as you suggest.

I went to an open home yesterday for a house listed with just a price, no BBO. The agent was from Totally Kiwi Real Estate, and she said they try to always list their houses with a price that's pretty much on the mark. Good place to look get a feel for actual prices? They're at totallykiwi.co.nz

Yet another question... if you go to an auction actually planning to bid, should you have something in hand from the bank that says you are approved for a mortgage up to a certain amount? We only want a small mortgage, so it shouldn't be a problem, but how much do people do before the auction? Have they usually already done their inspection of the home by that point?

Thanks again,
J