Guide to buying property in New South Wales

Step 1. Sort out finances

Before beginning the search for your dream home or investment property, it is very important that you have your finances in place to ensure that you have enough funds to settle your purchase. Prior to any purchase you should consult with your financial broker and accountant. At the very least you should have a loan pre-approval ready to go before searching for a property.

Buying a property is a big investment. In addition to the purchase price, you should also allocate additional funds for the following, but not limited to:

  • Legal fees
  • Property enquiries and searches
    • Pest and building inspection reports
    • Strata reports
    • Enquiries with authorities e.g. litigation searches, enquiries with Roads and Maritime Services
  • Adjustments
    • Council rates
    • Water rates
    • Strata levies etc.
  • Stamp duty
  • Lodgment Fees
  • Bank fees

Step 2. Find a property

Once you have your finances in place, this is to time to search for your dream home or investment property. Finding the right property is not an easy task. When searching for the right property, you should consider the following:

  1. Whether the property will be an established home or off-the-plan.

    Generally, off-the-plan properties or properties that are part of a house and land package have higher risks and concerns associated. This is because there are a number of uncertainties. These uncertainties include but are not limited to when the property will be completed, alterations or variations that the developer may make, the quality of the build, the reputation of the builder or developer and etc.

  2. The different types of plans which a property may fall under including:
    • Deposited Plan
    • Strata Plan
    • Community Plan
    • Neighbourhood Plan

      You should be aware that each plan has different characteristics and obligations associated with it.

  1. Make sure that the property is within your budget.

    Given the rise in the property market, many properties are now sold by way of auction, and it is very easy to be emotionally attached to a property and to make bids that exceed your budget. In the current market, there have been a number of properties that are sold at auction which have exceeded their reserve price. To avoid being misrepresented on the price, there are some prevention measures in place to stop real estate agents from underquoting on the selling price, which is prohibited by law.

  2. Make sure that the property suits your needs.

Step 3. Conduct enquiries

Now that you have found the right property, it is time to obtain a copy of the contract and to arrange for the following inspections:

  1. Building inspection

    This is to ensure that the property is structurally sound, compliant and without major faults or defects.

  1. Pest Inspection

    This is to ensure that the property is not subject to any pest or termite infestations.

  1. Strata Inspection (only applicable for properties under a strata scheme)

    A strata inspection can help you avoid any current or upcoming issues which the strata scheme may have. The inspection may also determine whether the strata records are in order and whether there are any upcoming special levies.

Although the abovementioned inspections are not mandatory, it is highly recommended that you do conduct these inspections.

You should also inspect the property yourself and check each and every inclusion to make sure that they are in working order. Generally, the property will be sold as-is in its present condition and state of repair. As such, the above inspections are very essential.  

Step 4. Contract review

Given that you have now found your potential dream property, don’t get excited just yet. The contract of sale is a complex document. It is very important that prior to signing the contract that you forward a copy to your solicitor or conveyancer to review. Your solicitor or conveyancer will discuss with you the following, but not limited to:

  1. The terms and conditions of the contract.

    This is to ensure you know what you are signing up to including your rights and obligations.

  2. Recommendations of changes to the contract terms.

  3. The title details of the property and whether there are any encumbrances, unregistered dealings or registered dealings such as:
      • Restrictions on the use of the land
      • Easements
      • Covenants
      • By-laws
      • Management statements
      • Caveats
      • Mortgages

  4. The plan and location of the property including its size and boundaries.

  5. Planning details as disclosed in the Section 10.7 planning certificate issued by the council.

  6. The details of the sewerage diagram and location print.

  7. Stamp duty details.

  8. If there is more than one purchaser, the type of ownership options available, including joint tenants or tenants in common.

Step 5: Contract signing and exchange

Once the contract is reviewed by your solicitor or conveyancer and you are happy with:

  1. the terms of the contract;
  2. the inspections which you have conducted; and
  3. you have you finances in place;

it is now the time to sign the contract and pay the deposit. Yay!

The contract will be prepared in duplicate where a copy will be signed by yourself, and another copy is signed by the seller. Upon both parties signing the contract, the contract will then be checked to ensure that both versions are the same and will then be dated. This is known as the exchange process which can either be conducted by the agent or the solicitor or conveyancer. Your original signed contract will then be forwarded to the seller’s representative and the original seller signed contract will be forwarded to your representative. The contract will become legally binding upon exchange.

The deposit under a Contract of Sale in New South Wales generally requires an amount equal to 10% of the purchase price. In the event if the property is exchanged with a five-day cooling off period, the deposit to be paid at the time of exchange of contract will be an amount equal to 0.25% of the purchase price. The remaining balance of the deposit will then need to be paid on or prior to the expiry of the cooling off period.

However, there will be no cooling off period if:

  1. the property is sold or passed in on the day of the auction;
  2. you agree to waive the cooling off period by way of a Section 66w Certificate; or
  3. the property is a commercial property.

Step 6. Post exchange

Now that the contract has been exchanged, there will be a number of documents which will be prepared by your solicitor or conveyancer. This includes, but not limited to:

  1. Transfer document

  2. Notice of sale

  3. Obtaining rate enquiry certificates from relevant authorities including council, water and strata (if applicable)

  4. Requisitions on title

  5. Settlement statement

  6. Order on agent or solicitor

This is also the time you should:

  1. Start finalising your finances to be in readiness for settlement.

  2. Arrange insurance policies for the property.

  3. Arrange for a final inspection closer to the settlement date.

The general settlement period in New South Wales is 42 days or 6 weeks. However, this time frame may differ depending on the terms negotiated.

Step 7: Settlement

This is the day the transaction is completed. On this date, you will need to pay the seller everything you owe them to ‘settle’ the purchase of your property.

In New South Wales, it is now a requirement for settlement to take place electronically. You do not need to be physically present for the settlement as this will be handled by your solicitor or conveyancer. Once settlement has occurred your representative will contact you to let you give the good news. They will also notify the agent about the successful settlement.

After settlement, you will be the proud new owner of the property. Your representative will let you know where the keys can be collected from. This is generally at the agent’s office.

property purchase

If you have a property in mind or don’t know where to start, get in touch with one of our solicitors today. You can contact us on 0450 828 927 or by emailing us at

Disclaimer: This article is published for general information purposes only and should not be used or relied on as legal advice or specific advice. You should seek independent legal advice in respect to your specific matter or questions as each matter is different depending on your specific situations and circumstances. SGH Lawyers will not be liable for any errors or omissions contained within this article.

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