Buying a property

Buying a property in NSW via private treaty (not auction). Based on:


  1. How long does finance take to formally approve?
  2. How long does finance take to settle?
  3. How long does it take from making offer to exchanging contracts?

Pre requisites

No Steps Details
1 Organise finance Initial mortgage search & decide on provider
Get Pre Approval
2 Find Conveyancer Check the sale contract before making an offer
3 Inspect properties Decide / hone in on areas. Get a good sense of value



No Steps Details
1 Check sale contract Like it? Get copy of sale contract from Agent & send to Conveyancer
Agent must inform you about previous property inspection reports
Get finance pre-approved (if not already done so)
2 Make offer & pay initial deposit Make offer
Pay initial deposit (expression of interest) ~ 0.25%. This doesn’t mean property is yours or gets taken off market. Only proves to seller that offer is serious
Once deposit paid: agent must provide receipt and tell you in writing: they have no obligation to sell property to you. You have no obligation to buy the property. They will refund your deposit if you don’t end up buying the property
Beware Gazumping – see section below
3 Formal loan application Don’t exchange contracts before finance has been formally approved in writing (pre approved not sufficient)
Lender will value property. Lender lends % of valuation of property, not % of purchase price
4 Negotiate changes to contract Ask seller to change terms of sale contract before signing it. May also be asking to fix defects
Do checks & inspections: eg strata search / inspection. Building inspection. Pest inspection. Valuation report. Other checks?
If advised of other offers have been made, ask for this in writing. Agents have no obligation, but most agents do it
Decide on ownership type: Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common. See NSW family services guide.
5 Exchange contracts Before exchanging contracts: agreement is not binding & both you or seller can change minds
2 copies: you & seller both sign before they are exchanged
after exchange: seller is locked in
6 Pay deposit & cooling off period At time of exchange, pay ~ 10% deposit
Cooling off period: in NSW have 5 business days cooling off period. Starts as soon as you exchange & ends 5pm on 5th business day after exchange
During this period you can withdraw from contract with written notice: have to pay vendor 0.25% of purchase price
7 Settlement process ~ 6 weeks after contracts exchanged
Pay rest of sale price & become legal owner on settlement day (Conveyancer will meet vendor’s Conveyancer & represetatives from your bank & seller’s bank)
Ensure this is smooth: maintain regular contact with your Conveyancer throughout this period
8 Organise insurance
9 Final check / inspection Day of settlement, important for final search of title to ensure property is clear from any interests or restrictions
Morning of settlement day: conduct final inspection of property (ensure same condition as when contracts exchanged)
10 Settlement day Legal owner of property
11 Pay stamp duty Pay within 3 months of signing contract unless eligible for First Home Owner’s grant

Beware Gazumping

Can take two forms.

  1. The intending buyer believes that the property has been secured by payment of an initial or part deposit, then proceeds to arrange finance, legal and other matters. When ready to exchange contracts, the intending buyer finds that another buyer has exchanged contracts on the property.
  2. The seller or the real estate agent accepts two or more initial deposits and then tells the intending buyers that the price has gone up. The intending purchasers are then left to outbid each other as if it were an auction. This is unfortunate for the buyer, but the seller is entitled to get the best price for the property.