Completing the sale

Accepting an offer on your property can be a relief, but there are still a number of steps before the sale is complete. Here’s how to get through the last stage of the process.

Summary of important things to know
  • A sale and purchase agreement is a legally binding document. When you sign, it means you are now in contract with the buyer, and it may be difficult and expensive to change your mind.

  • The buyer usually has to pay a deposit of around 10%, which is held in a trust account. 

  • If you are not happy with something in the sale and purchase agreement or would like to add something, ask the agent to change it. The buyer may or may not accept your change.

  • If you or the buyer attached conditions to the sale, these must be worked through before the deadline agreed by you and the buyer in the sale and purchase agreement. 

  • If you are selling privately, make sure that you seek advice from a lawyer or conveyancer about what needs to be done to complete the sale.


Upholding your end of the deal

The agreement will also set out what will happen if either you or the buyer don’t uphold your end of the deal or delay the settlement.

It’s important to read and understand this carefully, because you may have to pay compensation to the buyer if you don’t meet your obligations. You lawyer is the best person to explain your obligations under the agreement.

Receiving the deposit

Depending on the method of sale and the agreement itself, the buyer will usually pay a deposit when the agreement is either signed by both the buyer or seller or when it becomes unconditional. If the sale is by tender, the buyer will provide a bank transfer for the deposit amount when they make the offer.

The deposit is usually about 10% of the total sale price and is held in a trust account. After 10 working days the deposit is usually transferred to your lawyer or conveyancer’s trust account, unless early release of the deposit is agreed by you and the buyer. The agent usually takes their commission fee from the deposit and the remainder goes to you.

Working through conditions

If the buyer has added conditions to the offer, such as repairs for you to undertake, you will have to complete these before the date agreed to in the sale and purchase agreement. It’s a good idea to get things moving as quickly as possible because you may have to pay penalty charges if you don’t meet conditions by the due date.

When all the conditions have been met, the sale becomes unconditional.

If you need an extension to complete any conditions, you must speak to your agent or lawyer or conveyancer who will negotiate with the buyer through their lawyer or conveyancer. Any changes will need to be added to the sale and purchase agreement and signed off by you and the buyer.

If something goes wrong

If there is a problem meeting the conditions of the sale, such as the buyer’s finance arrangements falling through or they are unhappy with the results of a building inspection and decide to withdraw from the sale, the buyer must let their lawyer or conveyancer know as soon as possible. The buyer’s lawyer or conveyancer will contact your lawyer or conveyancer or agent.

If all the conditions have been met and the agreement is unconditional but you fail to complete the sale, you may need to pay compensation to the buyer. 

Read more about getting help if things go wrong here.

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