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Making an offer

If you’re asking yourself how to make an offer on a house, we’ve put together some factors to consider before signing the dotted line. Before we get started, it’s important to understand the difference between a private treaty sale and an auction.

Private treaty: The owner sets their asking price and then the real estate agent manages the offers until a price is accepted by the owner. In Australia, most residential properties are sold through private treaty.

Auction: The owner sets a reserve price and then potential buyers bid with the highest bid winning, provided it’s met the reserve price.


The first place to start when making an offer is to work out your budget. There is no use putting in an offer to buy a home that you can’t afford. You’ll need to work out how much deposit you have and on top of that, the additional costs and government fees that are involved in buying a house.


Once you know the house price you can afford based on your budget, have your finance pre-approved.

If the property is being sold through private treaty, having pre-approved finance will maximise your chances of your offer being accepted as if it comes down to you and another buyer with the exact same offer and conditions, it’s more likely that the owner will choose the person who has pre-approval.

If you are buying a house through auction, having your finance approved prior may give you confidence that you will be able to pay for the home if you’re the successful bidder.

Compare sales

If you’ve found your dream home and you’re trying to decide how much to offer, the price guide the agent has provided is a good place to start but shouldn’t be your only research. Have a look at what similar homes in the same or nearby suburbs have sold for recently. This will allow you to see if the price guide is fair for the property and how high or low you should go with your offer without paying too much or risking your chances of being accepted.


When it comes time to put in an offer, this can usually be written or verbal, but putting your offer in writing means you will have evidence of it. On top of providing your personal details, amount of offer and your deposit you’ll also need to stipulate your settlement date e.g. 30, 45 or 60 days, as well as any conditions of your offer such as subject to finance, subject to a building inspection, or subject to the sale or settlement of another property.

Keep in mind, you will be compared to the offers of other potential buyers and if your conditions are too restrictive you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage. On the other hand, providing an unconditional offer might put you at risk.

Private treaty vs auction

If your offer is accepted through a private treaty sale, you can withdraw before you sign the contract and in most Australian states you have a cooling off period of at least a couple of days even after the contract has been signed.  However, if you are buying a house at auction then your offer will come in the form of a bid which means even if you submit a written offer beforehand; your offer will be unconditional. This means you need to be sure you will be able to pay for the house and are comfortable with all the conditions set out by the seller if you’re the successful bidder. If you aren’t comfortable with the contract of sale then you will need to negotiate this with the real estate agent and seller prior to auction day.

The process of making an offer can vary depending on what state or territory you live in so have a chat to the real estate agent as well as your Home Loan Adviser and conveyancer or solicitor about what is required before making an offer.

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