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[MoreMore Insights] Introduction to Property Purchase and Transfer

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

For every new immigrant who plans to buy a property and settle in Australia, it is necessary but complex to have a clear understanding of the entire process of property purchase.

Allocate budget

Reasonably allocate the budget for purchasing a property based on one's own economic situation, and determine a range of affordable housing prices.

Save the deposit

What buyers need to understand is that many loan institutions require a certain proportion of deposit, and it needs be a deposit that they can provide proof of. In addition to the housing price, it is also necessary to consider some "hidden costs" in the process of buying a property, such as purchase stamp tax, loan application fee, lawyer's fee, and inspection fee. These related costs may be equivalent to 5% of the property price, so it is necessary to understand how much money you have in hand in order to tailor it and clarify how much money can be borrowed.

Government subsidies

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, you may enjoy the first home purchase subsidy provided by the federal government when purchasing your first home in Australia. Please follow our previous article for details.

Contact mortgage broker

A professional and reliable mortgage broker can help you sort and screen, find more suitable loan institutions and products, and help you obtain loan pre-approval.

Shopping around

Based on regional characteristics, service facilities, transportation conditions, and opportunities in the school district, first determine the area you are interested in purchasing, and then consider the type of property, such as new/old houses, single family villas/apartments, etc.

Inspect the property

If you are purchasing an old property, please carefully inspect it. You can ask an architect or termite expert to directly inspect your property, or hire relevant personnel to arrange similar inspections. If it is a house, it is recommended to do a building report and pest report to clarify the condition of the house and whether there are any insect infestations. If it is an apartment, it is recommended to do a strata report so that you can understand the situation of apartment property management.

Prepare documents

Nowadays, the most common way to buy a property is through private agreement contract exchange, usually through Real estate agent or directly negotiate with the owner, and the other way is public auction.

Sales contract

You can get the sales contract from the seller's real estate agent, or you can request this document from the Real estate agent responsible for the auction or sale before the auction. The real estate sales contract is prepared by the seller. The seller's lawyer will send the contract to the buyer's lawyer, who will then be responsible for explaining the contract terms to the buyer. If there are no objections, and both seller and buyer agree to it, then they will sign the sales contract. A formal real estate contract must include the names and signatures of the buyer and seller, a description of the property, price, delivery date, etc.

Exchange of contract

Contract exchange refers to the signing of contracts by both the buyer and seller. When the last party signs and sends it to the other party, the contract is exchanged. The date on which the last party signs is the exchange date of the contract, also known as the contract date. Once the contract is exchanged, it is binding on both the buyer and seller, which means that both the seller and the buyer need to comply with the terms of the agreement. If they do not comply, they may face corresponding legal consequences. Generally speaking, in order to avoid potential disputes, the exchange contract is completed by the solicitors of both the buyer and seller.

Cooling off period

The cool off period aims to allow retracting during a certain period of time after contract exchange, and it is normally five to seven business days. In NSW, if the buyer retract within the cool off period, they will lose 0.25% of the purchase price as a penalty. During the cool off period, the seller cannot accept any other purchase offers. It should be noted that the cool off period only applies to private sales and does not apply to auctions. Auctions normally do not provide a cool off period.

Stamp duty

The buyer needs to pay stamp duty for the property they purchase. The responsibility for stamp duty arises from the date on which both parties exchange the contract. In practice, buyers need to pay stamp duty at the time of the property settlement.


Settlement means the end of the entire home purchase transaction, and you will own the property. Many contracts require delivery to be completed within 6-8 weeks after the contract exchange. During this period, your loan application fees and stamp duty should also be paid. Your loan institution will prepare all necessary loan documents for you. After settlement, the keys and other equipment will be handed over to the buyer by the intermediary. Delivery of the key is a symbol of the seller actually transferring ownership of the property.

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