Obligations when selling a property privately

If you want to buy or sell a home, apartment, land or investment property you'll have to sign a contract.

A residential property cannot be advertised for sale until a Contract of Sale has been prepared. It is important that you consult your solicitor or conveyancer about preparing the contract to make sure that everything is in order.

The contract must contain a copy of the title documents, drainage diagram and a current Zoning Certificate issued by the local council. If the property for sale has a swimming or spa pool, one of the following must also be attached to the contract:

  • a copy of a valid certificate of compliance, or
  • a valid occupation certificate (issued in the past 3 years) and evidence that the pool has been registered, or
  • a valid certificate of non-compliance.

The legal work involved in preparing the sale contract, mortgage and other related documents, is called conveyancing. Contact your conveyancer before you advertise your house for sale to ensure you fulfil your legal obligations. You will need a conveyancer to prepare the contract of sale, a statutory disclosure statement (sometimes called a 'Form 1') and the other documentation required by law for the sale to proceed. Have to hand documents related to title and ownership of your home, including a property survey, certificate of occupancy, certificates of compliance with building and zoning codes, mortgage and financing documents. In some cases you may need to provide the buyer with tax records such as real estate, school, and other tax information.

Cooling-off period

You need to give the buyer a cooling-off period, depending on the legislation in your State this could be between 10 and 5 days. The cooling-off period is a chance for the buyer to change their mind. By law, most residential sales must have a cooling-off period.

You must include a warning statement about the cooling-off period. This must be:

  • on the contract itself
  • clear and readable
  • directly above the place where the buyer signs the contract.

Check the exact wording requirement as it could differ from State to State, the warning statement may use a statement similar to the below:

The contract may be subject to a 5 business day statutory cooling-off period. A termination penalty of 0.25% of the purchase price applies if the buyer terminates the contract during the statutory cooling-off period. It is recommended the buyer obtain an independent property valuation and independent legal advice about the contract and his or her cooling-off rights, before signing.

Repairs and inspections

Your property should be in a safe structural condition, check if you need to do repairs on your home before you can sell it. You can get building, pest and swimming pool inspections done to identify any problems that you need to fix.

Your buyer may want to arrange their own inspections during the negotiation.

Building and pest inspections

You can get a combined building and pest inspection. Make sure the inspector holds a current licence from the appropriate authority in your State. Expect a cost of around $500–$700 for a standard, 3-bedroom home.

Swimming pool inspections

If you have a swimming pool, you must arrange for a licensed inspector to check that it’s safe.

They will make sure that it:

  • follows safety regulations, such as signs and fences
  • meets construction standards.

They usually cost $200–$450. Inspectors must be licensed

If you decide to that you want to sell your property without the assistance of an agent, you will need to do quite a bit of homework before tackling the job yourself.

The broad steps involved in selling your property without an agent are as follows:

  • have your property valued
  • decide the purchase price
  • contact a conveyancer or lawyer
  • advertise the house
  • exchange contracts
  • settle

The major benefit of selling your home or property yourself is the chance to make a substantial financial saving (on average $20,000+) through not having to pay commission and marketing fees to an agent.