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Sold! What happens next?

Sold! What happens next?

You've bought a home. Here’s what happens between now and when you get the keys.

The hammer has fallen or your offer has been accepted and you’re going to be owner of a new home. In a matter of weeks you’ll be moving in. But a few things have to happen in the meantime.

Fortunately, often a lot of the work is taken care of by your legal agent (a conveyancer or solicitor). Here’s how the process usually goes:

Sign contracts and pay a deposit

If you’ve bought at auction you’ll need to sign a contract and pay a deposit (usually 10%) on the spot, so you’ll need to be prepared. Your legal agent should have already examined the contract and negotiated any changes. You should also have done pre-purchase pest and building inspections.

Generally, you will need a cheque for your deposit payment, and hopefully you will have already arranged conditional pre-approval with your lender.

This involves your lender looking at your financial situation and giving you conditional pre-approval for a loan of up to a certain amount.

If you’ve bought by private sale, once the vendor has accepted your offer, you might pay a 1% holding deposit to show good faith, but the deal isn’t done until you’ve signed the contract (in NSW contracts are said to be “exchanged”) and paid a bigger deposit (usually 10%).

It’s important to get the contract signed as soon as possible. While it’s unsigned, the vendor can still sell to another buyer known as “gazumping”. Of course, you should ensure your legal agent inspects the contract before you sign it.

Settlement is usually 3 to 6 weeks after contracts are exchanged, though the terms can be extended if seller and buyer agree.

Cooling-off period

If you’ve bought by private sale there may be a cooling-off period written into the contract, allowing you to change your mind. The cooling-off period is generally up to five days, depending on your state or territory.

There’s no cooling-off period for properties bought at auction.

Finalise your home loan

If you haven’t already got an unconditional loan offer, now’s the time to tell your lender about your purchase and get your conditional pre-approval turned into a formal loan approval.

Your lender will perform certain checks, such as a property valuation, before issuing a loan contract.

Your lender may ask you to take out building insurance for the period between signing the contract and settlement.

Final inspection

In the week before settlement, you should inspect the property to make sure it is in the same condition in which it was sold and everything is as the contract states.


Settlement day is when the sale is completed. The balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller, and your legal agent will work out any additional costs such as adjustments for council rates that have already been paid.

Your title deeds and mortgages will be registered at the lands office. Your lender will pay stamp duty and registration costs to the government on your behalf.

When everything is settled, your legal agent will get the keys and give them to you. Welcome to your new home.

Speak to one of our Home Lending Specialists to discuss your home buying plans. 

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. You should consider seeking independent financial advice before making any decision based on this information.