How to make an offer

You’ve found a house that you love, and you’re ready to make an offer.

19 Aug 2022

| Home Loan

How to make an offer

You’ve found a house that you love, and you’re ready to make an offer. The process may seem complicated, but once you understand what’s involved, you’ll be confident in negotiating the best price for your new home.

Is your dream home selling at auction? Check out our Top Tips - Buying at auction article to learn all the ins and outs.

Review the contract

The seller must have a contract of sale prepared and available when they are offering a property for sale. This contract will include:

• Zoning certificate from the local council
• A copy of the title to the property as recorded in the Land Titles Office
• Copies of documents outlining other registered interests over the property (if any)

It is a good idea to send the contract of sale to your solicitor or conveyancer for them to review.

Making an offer

After you are satisfied with the sale conditions you can make an offer on the property. You will need to give the real estate agent a signed offer in writing, and it must detail your conditions.

Your conditions may include:

• The offer will be withdrawn if the seller doesn't sign the contract by a certain date.
• A satisfactory building inspection report must be received.
• The buyer (you) is able to obtain satisfactory finance.
• A certain timeframe for moving in is specified.

It’s important you make your conditions clear. A solicitor or conveyancer will be able to help you with the wording.

If you’re buying at auction, make sure you read our Top Tips - Buying at auction article.


Your offer will then be passed on to the seller within 48 hours, giving them the chance to respond. The seller may tell you that your offer isn’t enough and ask if you want to submit a second offer.

You also won’t be told about any other offers the seller receives. So, unfortunately, the seller can accept a higher offer from someone else without giving you the opportunity to negotiate.

A holding deposit of up to $100 can be requested by the seller. This is kept in trust and will be given back to you if your offer isn’t accepted.

Contract of sale

If you’re happy to go ahead with the sale, the next step is for you and the seller to both sign the contract of sale.

There should be two copies of the contract, one signed by you and one signed by the seller. Once this is done, the property will be marked as ‘Under Contract.’

Cooling off

In South Australia, you’re entitled to a cooling-off period of two business days (unless you’re buying at auction), starting from receipt of the vendors statement or signing the contract, whichever comes last.

During this period, you can choose to cancel the contract for any reason. You will just need to complete a signed cooling-off notice and deliver it to the seller or their agent via registered post or in person.

If you decide to go ahead with the sale, once the cooling off period ends you will need to pay the full deposit for the property, which is typically 10% of the purchase price, although you can negotiate a lower one. Your conveyancer or solicitor will be able to help you through this process.

This is the point where the ‘Sold’ sticker gets slapped on.


Settlement usually happens around 4 to12 weeks after the contract of sale is signed. The settlement date is negotiated by you and the seller and is detailed in your contract of sale.

On your settlement date, all legal documents are lodged, the property is legally transferred over to you and you pay the balance of the purchase price, less your deposit.

Rates and taxes (including stamp duty) for the property are also transferred to you at settlement. The seller is responsible for rates up to and including that date.

If you’re using a solicitor or conveyancer, they may meet with the seller’s solicitor to make sure they have everything needed for the sale to be finalised.

Moving in

Once the settlement is done, you can arrange to collect the keys to your new home (hooray!). And it’s all yours – home, sweet home.


In South Australia, you become responsible for damage to the property once the contract of sale has been signed and exchanged. This means if anything happens to the property after this point such as storm damage, you may have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

What’s more, most lenders will also require you to have a building insurance policy for the property equal to the amount stated in the recommendation on the property valuation as a condition of your loan. This usually needs to be organised before the loan is settled.

So it’s a good idea to consider taking out insurance, in case something happens to the property before you move in.

If you already have contents insurance then you should advise your current insurer of your new address and intention to move. Some home insurance policies include a short period of cover for contents at both the old and the new address during a move. Some also provide cover for damage to contents whilst they’re in transit to a new address – check with your insurer to see if these are included in your cover.

If you’re buying a unit you’ll need to organise a Certificate of Currency from the Body Corporate’s insurer, to ensure the property is adequately covered.

We can help

If you’ve got any questions about this process our lending experts can help talk through your options and the first home buying process.

So why not make an appointment with one of our friendly Mobile Lending Managers, who can come to your home or office at a time that suits you. Call us on (08) 8202 7777 or visit us at 400 King William Street, Adelaide between 8am – 8pm weekdays or 8am – 2pm Saturdays. We’re here to help!

This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Conditions, fees and lending criteria apply and are available on request.

Credit Union SA Ltd ABN 36 087 651 232, AFSL/Australian Credit Licence Number 241066, arranges this insurance as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No 234708. We do not provide advice on this insurance based on any consideration of your objectives, financial position or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits, exclusion and underwriting criteria apply. Before making a decision please consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement: Prestige Home PDS or Classic Home PDS. If you purchase this insurance, we receive a commission that is between 0% and 22% of the premium. Ask us for more details before we provide you with services.

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