The offer and acceptance process when buying a property

Have you finally found the perfect property but now have no idea how to take the next step?

Don’t worry, like many buyers out there, you’re not alone!

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Note: Whether it’s a four-day cooling-off period, no cooling-off period, making a verbal offer, or using a contract to put an offer in writing, the offer and visa process varies in every state and can be as troublemaking as, well, a contract.

To help make things a little easier for you, in this vendible we get lanugo to the nitty-gritty of making an offer and tell you exactly what you need to know.

And as you'll see, the offer and visa process varies from state to state.

Is an offer on a house legally binding?

An offer on a house or unit is not legally tightness until both parties have signed a contract of sale and a petrifaction has been paid.

Agents are moreover unliable to take multiple offers and offer them all up to the vendor, or plane put forward a higher offer without you have submitted yours.

So how can you make an offer on a house legally binding?

This varies from State to State but in general, the offer is not legally tightness on both parties until the proprietrix and seller have signed a contract of sale (and in Victoria or section 32), the contracts have been exchanged and the petrifaction has been paid.

When making an offer to purchase a property, it is important to be enlightened of the following:

  • The wage-earner must submit all offers in writing to the vendor. So rather than making a verbal offer, if you’re serious well-nigh securing the property put your offer in writing together with a holding deposit.
  • The property remains on the market whilst the vendor considers all offers. Just considering your offer is the first one submitted or plane the highest offer, this does not necessarily midpoint that it will be accepted.

So surpassing you make an offer, you may wish to first consult with a solicitor or conveyancer who can outline your rights and obligations.

Engaging a lawyer early in the process can help mitigate any miscommunication surrounding the agreement.

What happens without you submit your offer differs in each state… so here’s a state-by-state rundown.


Interestingly, sellers who thought they had an wholesomeness by signing an ‘unconditional’ contract in Victoria, don’t really have the upper hand.

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Note: All contracts in Victoria have a three-day cooling-off period, regardless of whether or not you’ve once had legal advice.

Whenever the wage-earner takes an offer to the vendor now, instead of stuff worldly-wise to say, ‘sign this and it’s a washed-up deal’ now they say, ‘you can’t when out but the proprietrix can’.

Before you could take the unconditional contract to a solicitor and they would waive the cooling-off period.

Now you could take it to the Queen, and you would still need your cooling-off period.

There is, however, still no cooling-off period three days prior to the auction, at an auction, and three days without the auction.

If you decide to get out of the deal during the cooling-off period, you have to pay 0.25% of the property’s purchase price.

However, this is a relatively unseemly ‘get out of jail’ vellum compared to the forfeit of the property.

When you make an offer on a property in Victoria, you unquestionably write and sign a contract.

You can of undertow make an offer as an expression of interest, but your offer will only be taken seriously if it’s on an very contract.

It’s important to know that teachers still have the right to ‘gazump’ you plane without you’ve signed a contract (as long as the vendor has not countersigned it.

Gazumping occurs when a higher offer from someone else is accepted, nullifying yours.

This practice can moreover be referred to as ‘shopping the offer’ in instances where teachers use your offer to encourage other buyers to outbid you.

The wage-earner is legally obliged to work in the weightier interests of the vendor.

There’s nothing to stop someone else from coming withal and saying:

I’ll requite you an uneaten $5,000!

As for off-the-plan land sales, developers and buyers could previously hold money in a joint account, but deposits must now be held in a trust by a legal practitioner, conveyancer, or real manor agent.

This ensures that if any money is misappropriated, the proprietrix has wangle to a statutory bounty scheme and gets a refund.

New South Wales

New South Wales

It’s handy for buyers in New South Wales to have some spare mazuma – you’ll need it to make an offer on a property you like or pay an initial petrifaction as an expression of interest.

This won’t midpoint the property is yours or that it gets taken off the market.

It merely proves to the seller your offer is serious.

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Note: In fact, the seller or wage-earner can take as many preliminary deposits as they like for one property.

However, when you pay a deposit, the wage-earner must provide you with a receipt and tell you in writing that:

  • They have no obligation to sell the property to you,
  • You have no obligation to buy the property, and
  • They’ll refund your petrifaction if you don’t end up inward into a contract to buy the property

The wage-earner must moreover let you know if someone else makes an offer on the same property.

If your offer is accepted, be ready to sign the sale contract and proceed with the mart process.

However, surpassing you sign the contract, the vendor is self-ruling to negotiate with other potential purchasers, plane if they’ve verbally wonted your offer.

If the vendor accepts flipside offer and exchanges contracts with flipside buyer, you’ve then been gazumped.

If you’re gazumped, you won’t be compensated for the money you spent on inspection reports.

In NSW, you have a five-day cooling-off period from the time contracts are exchanged.

However, be enlightened that if you decide not to go superiority with the purchase, you’ll lose 0.25% of the purchase price to the vendor.

The value forfeited will be recovered from the petrifaction you paid.

Any petrifaction (normally 10% is required) will be paid by your solicitor or conveyancer to the real manor wage-earner and held in the real manor agent’s trust account.



Queensland buyers have a five-business day cooling-off period, which starts the day the contract is signed by both parties.

If the contract is signed on the weekend, the cooling-off period starts Monday morning and ends at 5 pm on the fifth day.

The proprietrix can, however, waive or shorten the cooling-off period by giving the seller’s wage-earner a form that’s been signed by a lawyer.

On the other hand, if a contract is terminated within the cooling-off period, the seller must refund the buyer’s petrifaction within 14 days, but can still deduct a termination penalty equal to 0.25% of the purchase price.

Buyers normally write their offer on an very contract, which becomes tightness once the vendor moreover signs it.

Agents must submit all offers to the seller, but they moreover have a right to shop your offer around.

The wage-earner is obliged to let you know whether or not you’re in a ‘multiple offer’ situation, where there are at least two offers on the property.

Buyers are encouraged to pay a petrifaction when signing the offer but if the contract falls through, the proprietrix is entitled to receive a full refund of their deposit.

The money is normally held in a real manor agent’s trust account.

Western Australia

Western Australia
Gazumping doesn’t exist in WA but there is what’s known as a ’48-hour clause’.

"If a second proprietrix comes in and they’re really keen on the property, they can invoke the 48-hour clause.”

“What it ways is that if the original purchaser can’t come up with the finance within that period (48 hours), then the second offer can supersede it, provided that the seller has well-set to that."

For example, this ways if someone has once offered $450,000 for a property and it’s under contract, which includes the 48-hour clause, you could offer $460,000.

The seller could then go when to the original purchaser and tell them they have to come up with the $450,000 within 48 hours, or they’ll winnow the higher offer.

"This isn’t a standard part of the contract, it’s normally inserted when the proprietrix wants to make an offer that’s provisionary upon the proprietrix selling their own property."

If you’re a keen bidder and love the thrill of auctions, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Only 2-3% of properties are sold through an vendition in WA.

Most offers are through private treaties and the wage-earner is required by law to present all offers, usually written on a contract, to the vendor.

What tends to happen is when you get to that point, you get into the wholesaling process.

The contract goes when and withal until a final price is well-set upon.

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Tips: Be shielding what you wish for though – there’s no cooling-off period in WA.

Although, strangely enough, the exception is retirement villages.

There’s moreover a cooling-off period if an wage-earner gets a listing by randomly knocking on someone’s door or making a phone call.

However, you can still protect yourself by making a contract subject to finance and you’ll get all of your petrifaction when if the sale falls through.

Any deposits are held by an agent, solicitor, or conveyancer.

South Australia

South Australia

If you find a property you instantly fall in love with in South Australia, don’t scarecrow making an offer over the phone.

Whether it’s a contract or a letter of offer, all offers have to be made in writing.

The wage-earner then has 48 hours to present this to the vendor, unless the proprietrix gives the wage-earner a strict deadline of, say, 5 pm that day.

Agents are moreover unliable to receive multiple offers and shop them around, as the contract is only legally tightness once the vendor signs it.

The Real Manor Institute of South Australia (REISA) acknowledges it receives complaints well-nigh this, but there’s not much it can do.

"The reality is, you may only get one endangerment to make one offer so we unchangingly recommend it’s your first and final offer.”

Ask yourself: ‘How much am I willing to pay?’ and consider this in making an offer."

If your offer does go under contract but you suddenly wake up at 2 am and realise you’ve made a terrible mistake, rest unpreventable buyers have a cooling-off period, albeit a very short one.

It expires two merchantry days without the proprietrix receives what’s known as a Form 1, required by law, which includes information well-nigh the property such as title particulars, covenants, and zoning.

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Note: You don’t have cooling-off rights if you buy a property through auction, in the name of a company, or by tender.

Dummy prompting or fake prompting at an vendition is versus the law in SA, but the auctioneer is unliable to make up to three vendor bids if the value is less than the reserve price.

A vendor bid is a type of bid made by the auctioneer on behalf of the vendor as a tactic to alimony the bids moving.

It’s supposed to be unmistakably spoken so that genuine bidders know what’s going on.

A 10% petrifaction is payable without the contract has been signed.

The money is usually transferred to the vendor’s wage-earner or conveyancer, who will then place it in a trust account.

If you’ve engaged a conveyancer, they can organise this for you.


Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory is the only state in Australia that has pre-preparation of contracts, equal to Craig Bright of the Real Manor Institute of the Australian Capital Territory

"For a property to go on the market, the contract has to be pre-prepared.”

“That involves the preparation of a contract with everything inserted but the purchaser’s details, just like in an vendition contract."

The contract must be wieldy to the proprietrix prior to them making an offer and include a towers and pest report, withal with an energy rating of the property.

There’s a provision of financing in the contract for reimbursement, which is capped.

A proprietrix would normally seek legal translating surpassing signing a contract.

Most real manor teachers indulge up to 10 working days to sign a contract, which ways the five-day cooling-off period is rarely used.

"Most people waive the cooling-off period considering they’re not required to mart contracts until finance is formally approved.”

“Around 99% of contracts would mart unconditionally."

This ways offers are usually made by verbal agreement.

However, if someone comes withal and offers a higher price for a property, the original purchaser could miss out and there’s nothing they can do.

In an zippy market, that can happen.

The standard 10% petrifaction is normally held in a trust worth by the vendor’s agent.

Most buyers moreover pay a $1,000 holding deposit, which is then refunded if the offer falls through.

If the offer is accepted, the wage-earner will send out the sales instructions, which indulge the buyer’s solicitor to well-constructed the original contract.


If you find a property in Tasmania, be prepared to write any offer on a formal contract.

This contract is legally tightness as soon as the vendor signs it.

Until then, the price can be amended and the contract may go when and forth.

The petrifaction payable is usually 10%, which is retained in a trust worth by the real manor agent.

While teachers in Sydney will sometimes list homes for sale at a ridiculously low price prior to auctions to get people excited, Tassie teachers are breaking the law if they do this.

‘Bait advertising’, where a property is advertised for a price lower than what a vendor would accept, isn’t allowed.

New legislation is moreover well-nigh to be enforced in Tasmania, which will require a vendor statement to be provided and signed by the vendor.

The Real Manor Institute of Tasmania (REIT) says:

"This document will personize details to any potential buyer, in relation to key elements of the property.”

“Information in the vendor statement will be legally tightness and any inaccuracies could lead to legal proceedings."

A cooling-off period has moreover just been introduced, which gives buyers two merchantry days to withdraw their offer if they get unprepossessed feet, (apart from ownership at vendition of course).

However, be shielding with how many offers you make on variegated properties – if a proprietrix makes multiple offers for a number of variegated properties on the same day, the cooling-off period only applies to the first property.

Good luck figuring out how to prove which offer you made first!

Also, don’t scarecrow submitting any ridiculously low offers in Tasmania.

Agents aren’t legally required to present them to vendors.

Like WA, Tasmania moreover has the 48-hour clause.

This ways if flipside proprietrix comes withal and offers a higher price, the first proprietrix has 48 hours to come up with the full finance.

Otherwise, the vendor can winnow the higher offer.

Northern Territory

Most offers in the Northern Territory are made with a verbal offer and you only sign a contract once the offer is verbally accepted.

Northern Territory

The Real Manor Institute of Northern Territory’s training manager Jock McLaughlin says.

However, it doesn’t wilt a contract unless the last party signs it, which is usually the vendor, and it’s dated.

Director of K.G. Young and Associates Tony Pickering adds until a contract is signed by both parties, the owner can winnow any higher offers.

Normally once the contract is there, the wage-earner works to that end.

However, if someone was to ring (with flipside offer) surpassing a contract was exchanged, the wage-earner is legally obliged to pass that on to the owner.

Buyers have a four-day cooling-off period, which starts the merchantry day without the contract is exchanged.

So if you sign a contract on Saturday and mart it on Monday, the cooling-off period doesn’t start until Tuesday.

There’s a seven-day period unliable for a towers and pest inspection and a 10-day period for finance.

You can moreover make the contract subject to an engineer’s report, a whirlwind rating, and a swimming pool safety report.

Any petrifaction would be held in a real manor agent’s trust worth or alternatively, a solicitor or conveyancer’s trust account.

Most people prefer a 30-day settlement, but since the global financial crisis, a 40 to 45-day settlement period is increasingly realistic in the NT.

McLaughlin notes you only need a 10% petrifaction for a property if you buy it at auction.

A petrifaction isn’t required for a legal contract.

Signs that your offer on a house will be accepted

There are many factors for a seller to take into consideration when it comes to unsuspicious an offer - not only the price but moreover the conditions and whether you have finance pre-approval.

Then market demand will moreover stupefy how quickly a seller will legitimatize or reject an offer.

Waiting to find out if your offer has been wonted is a nail-biting time.

Here are 4 signs to squint out for that could midpoint things are on the right track for you.

1. The wage-earner or vendor asks for clarification

Generally, if the seller's agent, or plane the seller themselves, contacts you to ask for refinement on anything in your offer, you can take that as a promising sign.

Any questions well-nigh your timeline, offer price, contingencies or any other terms suggests that the seller is considering your offer and it hasn’t just been swept off the table.

2. Asking for proof of funds or loan pre-approval

If the seller has remoter questions or wants increasingly information, they may ask their wage-earner to speak to you.

Again, this is a unconfined sign considering it indicates that the seller is once interested in your terms.

3. Getting a counteroffer

In some cases, your offer might not be immediately wonted and instead, the vendor will come when with a counteroffer.

Again, this is an spanking-new sign that you could be wonted to buy the property - while your offer hasn't yet been fully accepted, it ways the vendor is happy with the terms and contingencies but wants to negotiate on the remainder (likely this will be lanugo to price).

4. Hearing that the vendor is interested

This might be an obvious one but the seller’s wage-earner contacting you to tell you that the vendor is interested in your offer is moreover obviously a sign that that is genuinely the case.

Withdrawing an offer on a house in Australia

You’ve found a house, and submitted an offer but now your situation has reverted leaving you questioning… “can I withdraw an offer on a house once it has been accepted”?

There are steps you can take to revoke your offer to purchase the property that depends on what point you are in the sale.

Withdrawing an offer BEFORE it is accepted

If the seller has not yet wonted your offer and signed the contract of sale you are worldly-wise to revoke your offer in writing.

You need to do this quickly and in writing and unhook it to the wage-earner or seller surpassing the offer is accepted.

You don’t have to requite a reason why the offer is stuff revoked.

Withdrawing an offer AFTER it has been accepted

Once your offer has been wonted it becomes a legally tightness try-on and you enter into a cooling-off period.

But there is still an opportunity to terminate a contract for any reason.

After the offer is wonted you’ll move to a cooling-off period at which point you can when out of the sale at any point.

If you want to revoke your offer during the cooling-off period you’ll likely need to pay a percentage (usually virtually 0.25% or a forfeited deposit) of the property purchase price as a penalty to the seller as explained above… and this differs in each state.

Withdrawing an offer AFTER it has been wonted and AFTER the cooling-off period

It is still possible for a proprietrix to withdraw without the cooling-off period, but it will come with a penalty or fine.

That’s considering the proprietrix will have to recoup the seller for legal fees and other expenses.

So if you are considering terminating a contract under the cooling-off condition it is important that you seek the translating of your conveyancing solicitor as they will ensure your rights are protected.

Withdrawing an offer AFTER it has been accepted

Ways to protect yourself from stuff gazumped

No one likes stuff gazumped, expressly when it ways missing out on a dream property you had your heart set on.

In most states of Australia, it’s legal to be ‘gazumped’ – where you miss out on a deal considering someone else comes withal with a higher offer than the one you made – but many believe it’s morally wrong.

The Office of Fair Trading suggests the pursuit steps can protect you from stuff gazumped.

  1. Have your finance pre-approved and make sure you can pay the 10% petrifaction so there’s no wait when you go to mart contracts on a property.
  2. Get a reprinting of the sale contract as soon as possible and get your solicitor to trammels it as soon as you can.
  3. Try to mart contracts with the vendor as soon as you can so there’s no time wait for the vendor to pull out of the deal.
  4. Insist on the wage-earner passing your bonafide offers to the vendor and obtaining written proof of this occurring. The law requires teachers to do this.
  5. If you’re well-considered that other offers have been made, demand to see written vestige so you know whether or not the wage-earner is bluffing.
  6. Be ready to mart a signed reprinting of the contract and follow through with flipside trusted person to ensure the exchange. Buyers should moreover put a timeframe on their offer. For example, demand an wordplay by 5 pm the day you make an offer.
  7. If you’re making an offer with a timeframe, do it on a day when there isn’t an unshut inspection.
  8. This reduces the agent’s chances of having flipside offer on the same day.
  9. If you really can’t withstand the thought of missing out on the property you love, be ready to possibly increase your purchase offer to the vendor.
  10. Alternatively, if you really can’t stand the thought of stuff gazumped, consider ownership property through auctions.
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Note: Gazumping can’t occur at auctions, considering the property is simply sold to the highest bidder on the day and there’s no cooling-off period.

A seller’s secret weapon: the 48-hour clause

When selling property, vendors in Western Australia and Tasmania can use what’s known as a 48-hour clause in a contract.

This can be used if the proprietrix and seller enter a contract, but someone then comes withal and makes a higher offer.

If that happens, the original proprietrix has 48 hours to come up with the finance for the value they offered.

Not many people are enlightened of it, but Perth investor Ray Bradbury is.

He recalls a time when he was 48 hours yonder from owning what would have been his dream property in Maylands, Perth.

"It once had an offer on it but it was unelevated the asking price.”

“That offer was presented and wonted but the vendor put a 48-hour clause into the contract, so if someone came withal with a largest offer, they could winnow the higher amount."

Ray put in a higher offer, using this clause, which was closer to the $450,000 asking price.

That gave the original proprietrix 48 hours to come up with the full finance to seal the deal.

If they hadn’t been worldly-wise to do this, Ray would now be living in a property he believes has since doubled in value.

Unfortunately for Ray, the dream ended surpassing it started – the proprietrix managed to come up with the goods.

"It was a bit worrying but I knew the situation and understood the circumstances.”

“I thought it was worth a try considering it was a unconfined house in a unconfined area, right on the river.

“Most people don’t know well-nigh the 48-hour clause but the wage-earner told me well-nigh it to try and get as much money as he could."