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Find out how much can you afford in mortgage repayments, as well as other ongoing costs associated with owning a property, and how much is your lending institution willing to lend you.
Determine what kind of house and where you would like to buy. Attend open inspections and auctions to get an idea of how much properties are selling for and to get an idea of what the buying process is.
It is recommended that you engage the services of a professional conveyancer or solicitor as early as possible in the house buying process. They will help you with the legal documentation and the settlement process.
When you find a property you are interested in you should do some background research to help you identify any building issues or other factors that may affect whether you buy the property or not - eg easements. Certain documents must be given to you by the vendor or their agent to help you make this decision. These are listed below under Documents to be given to a buyer.
If the property is for sale by private treaty you can make an offer to the vendor or their agent. This should be in writing and must be signed by you. You can make an offer in the form of a contract of sale which will become legally binding if the vendor signs it. If you are planning to make this kind of offer it is recommended that you include a condition in writing that if it isn't signed by the vendor by a particular date the offer and the contract become invalid. Your conveyancer or solicitor will be able to help you with the wording of this condition.
The vendor's agent may ask for a holding deposit of up to $100 at the time of making an offer which is held in a trust account.
If the property is up for auction you can attend and register as a bidder. If you are successful at the auction you will be expected to sign the contract of sale and pay the deposit as soon as the auction finishes.
You should organise for any building inspections or for your financial institution to conduct a property valuation before the auction day as you won't be able to make the contract of sale subject to any conditions and are not entitled to a cooling off period.
This is the legal contract which will become binding once you and the vendor have both signed it. If you are buying a property through private treaty you may make the contract subject to certain conditions - eg subject to the satisfactory approval of finance, subject to receiving a satisfactory building inspection report.
If you are buying through private treaty your financial institution may want to conduct a property valuation at this point to ensure that the property is enough to act as security against the amount you want to borrow.
If you are buying a property at auction you will be expected to sign the contract immediately after the auction finishes and it can't be made subject to any conditions.
The deposit is payable after the contract of sale has been signed. Usually, this is up to 10% of the purchase price. You will need to organise for the transfer of the money to the vendor's agent or conveyancer who will hold it in trust until settlement. If you have engaged a conveyancer they will organise for this on your behalf.
If you are buying a property at auction you will be expected to pay the deposit as soon as the auction finishes.
This period is usually for 2 business days from either the date the contract of sale was signed by both you and the vendor or from the date you received the vendor's statement, whichever happened later.
If you buy a property through a private treaty you will have 2 business days as the cooling off period. You can change your mind during this time and withdraw from the purchase without any legal repercussions.
If you decide to withdraw from the purchase any holding deposit you paid is forfeit to the vendor, but any larger deposit you have paid will be returned to you. There are no other consequences from withdrawing during the cooling off period.
If you buy a property at auction or on the day of the auction you are not entitled to a cooling off period.
This is the date on which all legal documentation is transferred from the vendor's name into yours. The adjustment of rates and taxes are calculated, and the balance of the price of the property is to be paid to the vendor. If you are using a conveyancer they will attend the settlement and represent you throughout the process. This is a complex legal process and it is strongly recommended that you engage a conveyancer or solicitor to represent you.
After this date, you will be given the keys to your new property and you can take possession.