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First Home Buyers

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 vendor (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. It is best to put your offer in writing to the real estate agent, including any conditions such as finance, deposits, repairs, and your timeframe for moving in.

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

Top Tops - Buying at auction


Your offer will be passed on to the vendor, giving them the chance to respond. The vendor may advise you that your offer isn’t enough, and ask if you want to submit a second offer. This is where researching negotiation tactics can pay off.

Exchanging contracts

Once you have agreed on a price with the vendor then it’s time to make it official and exchange contracts. 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 will be able to help you through this process. 

Be aware that in South Australia you have legal responsibility and an interest in the property from the date the contracts are exchanged, which means you take on the risk. It could be a good idea to consider insurance, in case something happens to the property before you move in. If you buy a new 12 month Allianz home or landlord insurance policy (with buildings cover) through Credit Union SA,1 you may be eligible for up to 90 Days’ Free Buildings Cover to cover you through the period until settlement2.

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.


Cooling-off period 

After the contracts are signed and agreed to, you are entitled to a cooling-off period unless you have bought a property at auction. During the cooling-off period you can choose to cancel the contract for any reason you like. This is the time to undertake building and pest inspections and reassess whether it is the house you really want.


The settlement time is usually four to six weeks, but can be negotiated with the vendor. 

1 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 (Allianz) ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708. We do not provide any advice based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision, please consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available. 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.

2 The offer of free buildings cover may only be used in conjunction with the purchase of a residential home or residential investment property and the purchase of a twelve (12) month Home Insurance or Landlords Policy for that property which includes buildings cover. It is not available to land-only ownership or Strata Title properties. This insurance is subject to normal underwriting terms and is offered subject to your eligibility for home or landlord insurance with the insurer. You must consider whether you need insurance for your settlement period as this varies from state to state and may depend on the terms of your contract for sale of property. Please seek independent advice to ensure that you are adequately covered at the appropriate time. By purchasing a twelve (12) month home or landlord insurance policy (including buildings cover), your policy will include an additional free cover period for your building(s) of up to a maximum of 90 days before the start date of your twelve month policy. The free cover period effective date and expiry date will be shown in your policy schedule. The expiry date will be the settlement date nominated by you, which cannot exceed the ninetieth (90th) day from the start of the free cover period. The twelve (12) month period of insurance under your home or landlord insurance policy will commence immediately following the expiry of the free cover period. Once the policy is purchased, the expiry date of your free buildings cover and the commencement date of your twelve (12) month insurance policy cannot be changed unless agreed to by the insurer in writing. The terms, conditions, limits and exclusions in your home or landlord insurance policy (which are set out in the Product Disclosure Statement and policy schedule) will apply to the free cover period. These include, but are not limited to, ’Buildings not lived in for more than 60 days’, ‘taking precautions’ and ‘security devices and burglar alarms.’ The optional additional cover ‘Rent Default and Theft by Tenant’ if selected in the landlord insurance policy, does not apply during the free cover period.

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