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 to consider.

Before you submit your offer...

When you are ready to make an offer, the real estate agent will provide you with a copy of the sale of contract for the property.  Take the time to make sure you understand everything this says – if you have any queries, ask your lawyer or your licensed conveyancer to explain it to you.

You should wait until you have reviewed the sale contract before making an offer for the vendor to consider – don’t feel pressured into making an offer, take your time.

It’s common for the contract to be subject to conditions – some of the common ones are:

  • 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.

Make sure that you understand the timeframes listed in the contract, and when settlement on the property will happen.

When the offer is accepted!

If the vendor agrees to your offer, you will both sign and exchange copies of the sale contract. Once you’ve paid the deposit,  you will have a contract subject to any conditions that may have been agreed – keep your copy in a safe place.

Once your contract of sale is in place, if the conditions that are set out in your contract are not met, the contract can be cancelled and you, the purchaser, are no longer obliged to buy the property.

If your conditions are met – for example you obtain the finance required, or the building inspection shows no problems – your contract will then become unconditional, and you are obliged to complete the contract. Failing to complete, or failing to attempt to complete the contract can result in you losing your deposit.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

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


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’.


For more information, check out A Guide to the Cost of Home Purchase, put together by Housing NSW.


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”.


Consumer, Building and Occupational Services can offer you some advice about buying and selling property.


For buying and selling real estate in Queensland, there is something called a cooling off period  – this means that if you change your mind at any time in the 5 business days after signing the contract regarding the purchase, or the conditions set out in the contract have not been met, you can terminate the contract.