Information when Buying a Townhouse, Unit or House

Learn about the different processes depending on property type to ensure you are prepared before you buy.

Buying a Townhouse or Unit

You should ensure you:

  • are informed of certain matters before signing the contract, for example, the annual contribution to the body corporate and how this is set;
  • receive a copy of the Community Management Statement for the body corporate (which includes details of the annual contributions and the body corporate by-laws) with the contract;
  • receive certain warranties from the seller, for example, that there are no hidden or obvious defects in the common property. If defects and liabilities are not disclosed in the contract you may be able to cancel the contract and recover any money paid.


When you buy a townhouse or unit (community title) you take on a relationship with the other owners and the body corporate such as:

  • sharing the ownership of common areas, e.g. lifts, stairwells and front entrances
  • becoming a member of a body corporate which is regulated by fairly complex rules – you are jointly and severally liable for the bodies’ corporate debts.

The body corporate is made up of all the owners. It decides issues about the common property, concerns of owners and maintenance of the complex.

Owners regularly contribute money to the body corporate for day-to-day ongoing expenses and anticipated long term costs.

You should ask your solicitor to explain the ramifications of buying community title.

Buying a House

Your solicitor will:

  • Check the title and plan of the land for easements, caveats, and other encumbrances
  • Do all the other usual searches
  • Inform you if these searches disclose any zoning and planning regulations or other restrictions affecting the property
  • Check for any disputes or other charges affecting the unit or townhouse (community title land)
  • Prepare all documents and make sure you gain good title to the property you are buying.

When is the Cooling-Off Period?

All residential property sales in Queensland are subject to a buyer’s cooling-off period of five business days commencing on the date the buyer or their lawyer receives a copy of the contract signed by both the buyer and the seller.

If you, the buyer, decide not to proceed with the sale within that period, you must give notice to the seller in the specified way to cancel the contract; you must pay the seller 0.25 percent of the purchase price of the property. If your deposit exceeds that 0.25 percent, the balance must be refunded to you.


No cooling-off period applies to buyers who purchase at auction on the fall of the hammer. The cooling-off period applies if a property is passed in at auction and a bidder subsequently buys the property.

Warning:  This content is not designed to replace professional advice. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs before making any decision as to whether this scheme is appropriate for you.