Making an Offer on a Property

When you have found a property that you would like to buy, you need to make an offer for the vendor (the person selling) to consider.

When you are ready to make an offer, review the sale contract of the property which the real estate agent will provide you with, and discuss with a lawyer or a licensed conveyancer if there is anything that you don’t understand.  You should wait until you have reviewed the sale contract before making an offer for the vendor to consider.

Do not feel pressured into making an offer, take your time.

If the vendor agrees to your offer, you will both sign and exchange copies of the sale contract. You then pay them a deposit and you will have a contract subject to any conditions that may have been agreed.

It is common for the contract to be subject to conditions such as:

  • the purchase being subject to approval of finance;
  • a title search to find out if there are any restrictions on the property;
  • a building inspection;
  • a pest control report;
  • an inspection for environmental hazards such as asbestos, lead and mould;
  • a search report on soil stability; or
  • a council building report to see if there are any unapproved structures on the property such as a deck.

When signing the contract you should:

  • read the contract carefully and completely prior to signing it;
  • understand the contract in its entirety;
  • seek advice from your lawyer if there is something you do not understand;
  • understand your obligations under the contract such as time frames for completion;
  • keep a complete copy of the signed contract and store it in a safe place;
  • pay the agreed deposit; and
  • get insurance that will cover the property from the time the contract is signed.

If conditions that are set out in your contract are not met, after having your offer accepted by the vendor, the contract can be cancelled and the purchaser is no longer obliged to buy the property.

If your conditions are met, for example you obtain the finance required, your contract becomes unconditional and you are obliged to complete the contract. Failing to complete or failing to attempt to complete the contract can result in forfeit of the deposit.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

The NT Department of Housing website contains fact sheets and general information about buying a home.

ACT

In the ACT a contract for the sale of a property must include a building inspection and a pest control report.  The cost of these reports is paid by the buyer on top of the purchase price.

See the ACT Law Society information on buying a house.

The Office of Regulatory Services has a book called Reality Check – a real estate guide for buyers and sellers in the ACT.

Western Australia

The Department of Commerce produces a useful document called the ‘Home Buyers Survival Guide for WA’.

NSW

For more information, check out A Guide to the Cost of Home Purchase.

Victoria

For more information check out the following links:

South Australia

Comprehensive information about buying or selling a home and the impact of the new real estate laws is available on the South Australia Consumer and Business Services website here, or you can phone Consumer and Business Services on 08 8204 9516 to request a copy of the publication “It’s About The House”.

Tasmania

Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading can offer you some advice about buying and selling property.

Queensland

Following the signing of the purchase agreement there will be a 5 business day cooling off period. At any time during this period, if you change your mind regarding the purchase and the conditions set out in the contract have not been met, you can terminate the contract.