Learn About the Legal Process of Making an Offer

You really want a property and are keen to put in an offer but where do you start? Below we outline the legal process of making an offer. 

Making an Offer

Putting your offer in writing shows the seller that you are serious, and avoids confusion that can occur with verbal negotiations. The real estate agent will present the buyer with a number of documents and is obliged to go through these documents to avoid any confusion. If a buyer still has queries at this stage, they are encouraged to seek independent legal advice.

The REIQ Contract of Sale (approved by the Queensland Law Society) has provision in the schedule for the contract to be subject to finance, a building inspection and/or a pest inspection if these are required. However, parties may also agree to vary the standard conditions in the contract.

  • Pay a Deposit

A buyer will be encouraged to pay a deposit when signing the offer. If the deposit is greater than 10 per cent of the price, the contract becomes an ‘Installment Contract’. Whilst paying a deposit is not something that is legally required, by doing so buyers show the seller that they are making a serious offer and are showing their goodwill. Deposits can be paid by way of cash, cheque or electronic transfer of funds. They can also be paid using deposit bonds or bank guarantees. Buyers should seek advice from their financier as to any associated costs with deposit bonds or bank guarantees before paying a deposit in this form.

  • Conditions

If a buyer terminates the contract under the cooling-off period or another legitimate way, the deposit is refundable (excluding the termination penalty of the cooling-off if the seller elects to charge it).

It is important for a buyer to ensure building and pest inspections (if applicable) are carried out within the time frame set out in the contract conditions. With regards to finance, if an independent valuation is required as part of the finance process, buyers should ensure their financier has this arranged within the time frame of the condition.

If a buyer feels that any conditions may not be finalised by the applicable end date, they should seek legal advice from their solicitor as soon as possible. Commonly, a solicitor may suggest a buyer requests from the seller an extension to the condition date. It is the seller’s discretion to grant, or not grant, the request.

  • The Contract

A standard contract for the conveyancing of residential property was developed by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and Queensland Law Society. 

When you have expressed your interest in purchasing a property, the real estate agent will prepare a standard contract for you to sign. 

Seek advice before you sign – send a draft contract to your solicitor to make sure it is correct and meets your needs. A standard contract cannot deal with the individual circumstances of every transaction. 

If necessary your solicitor can add special clauses to the contract, for example:

  • the purchase may depend on the sale of your existing property
  • the property is not subject to flooding and the sellers have obtained all necessary statutory approvals and complied with those approvals.

It is also recommended that you obtain an independent valuation of the property before you sign the contract. 

There are a number of critical Warning and Disclosure Statements which must be completed and signed to ensure that the contract is properly formed. You should ask your solicitor to ensure that these are correct before you sign. 

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.