In a private sale, the property is advertised and prospective buyers are invited to make offers to the seller or the seller’s agent, and the sale does not go to auction.
For residential properties and rural properties less than 20 hectares, you have three business days to think about your decision and change your mind. This is called ‘cooling off’ and is not possible in all circumstances. For more information, view the Cooling off on a property sale information below.
Note: New laws were introduced in May this year to strengthen laws against underquoting in Victoria. Underquoting can occur when a property is advertised at a price that is less than the agent’s estimated selling price, the seller’s asking price, or a price already rejected by the seller. For more information on real estate pricing and advertising, view our Understanding property prices page.
All sellers, or estate agents acting on their behalf, must have our 'due diligence checklist' available to prospective buyers at open for inspections. The checklist aims to help buyers identify any issues that may affect their decision to buy the property, such as buying into an owners corporation, flood or fire risk, or whether there is insurance coverage for recent renovations. View our Due diligence checklist for home buyers page.
If an agent is managing the sale:
If an agent is not managing the sale, make your offer to the seller. The seller will negotiate with you about the price and terms of the contract.
We recommend you write into the contract a date by which your offer will lapse. This way you will know whether or not the seller has accepted your offer by that date.
In a private sale, you can negotiate with the seller to make the sale subject to certain conditions, such as:
If the contract is subject to finance, you should always nominate a lender in the relevant section of the contract.
When you buy at auction, you cannot put conditions on the contract - for example, a longer settlement period - without the seller’s agreement.
The decision on how much to offer is difficult. You need to consider whether to:
A seller may reject an offer for reasons other than the price, such as conditions placed on the offer. For example, a seller might reject your offer if it is conditional on a longer settlement period, or if another buyer offers a similar price with the seller’s preferred settlement period.
You can engage a buyer’s advocate to bargain for you. For more information about engaging a buyer’s advocate, view our Seek expert advice on property page.
If the seller does not accept your offer, the agent may ask if you are prepared to make a higher offer.
Through negotiation, the agent will attempt to achieve a mutually acceptable price and terms. This negotiation may involve:
The contract of sale should state:
An agent can complete some of the details on a contract in preparation for you and the seller to sign.
When you make a written offer you will be asked to pay a deposit:
If an agent is managing the sale on behalf of the seller, you pay the deposit to that agent who must hold it in a trust account until settlement, or transfer it to the seller’s legal practitioner or conveyancer’s trust account.
If an agent is not managing the sale, you will pay the deposit:
If you agree, the deposit can be released to the seller before settlement. For this to happen:
You cannot release the deposit until 28 days after the date the contract was signed.
Your deposit will be returned to you if the seller does not accept your offer.
The property is sold when both you and the seller have signed the contract of sale.
All parties who sign the contract must be given a copy of the signed contract.
The sale is finalised at settlement when all checks have been made, the title and transfer documents exchanged, and the balance of the purchase price is paid.
The goods and services tax (GST) applies to the purchase of new homes. It does not apply to established homes unless the seller is registered for GST. You can check a seller’s GST status on the Australian Business Register website.
The contract must clearly specify whether the price is inclusive or exclusive of GST and, if included, the amount of the GST.
Do not sign the contract without checking whether GST applies. If uncertain, seek professional advice.
A cooling-off period of three clear business days applies to private sales of residential and small rural property sales.
The cooling-off period gives you time to consider the offer. It begins from the date you sign the contract, not from the date the seller signs it.
If you decide you no longer want to buy the property, you can cool-off by giving written notice to the seller or the seller’s agent. You will be entitled to a full refund of any money paid, less $100 or 0.2 per cent of the purchase price, whichever is greater.
The cooling-off period does not apply if: