Buying a house that's warm and dry is a priority for many property hunters, but how can buyers identify a 'healthy' home?

Real Estate Authority (REA) chief executive Kevin Lampen-Smith says there are a handful of key traits to watch out for.

"A house that's hard to heat can make you sick and miserable. In many cases, the key is good insulation," Lampen-Smith says.

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum temperature of 18C in our homes. Insulation is often the most practical and cost-effective way to make a house more energy efficient.

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"Ask the agent or seller if the property is insulated, the type of insulation used and when it was installed. Ask your building inspector to check the state of the insulation," Lampen-Smith suggests.

Lampen-Smith says it's important to watch out for dampness, like musty smells, damp or mouldy wardrobe contents, mould forming behind paintings or furniture, or mould or watermarks on ceilings or walls.

"Condensation on windows, especially in bedrooms, isn't necessarily a sign of excessive dampness if it only happens occasionally during winter," Lampen-Smith explains.

Ideally, the house will have extractor fans in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry that are vented outside.

Fans should not be vented into the roof space.

Good curtains can also help a house retain warmth.

For more information and helpful resources about purchasing a home, visit settled.govt.nz, the independent government website for buyers and sellers.