Buying Tips

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Buying a home will probably be the most expensive and important purchase you will ever make. You need to research, plan and have patience to make a successful purchase.

We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service and our professional, well trained sales executives will endeavour to listen clearly to your requirements and present only suitable properties to you.

Whether you are a first home buyer looking to get your foot on the ladder or a seasoned property investor looking for your next opportunity, Fortis Real Estate is the place you should be looking!

Before you start to look for a property, it’s important to understand the buying process.  It’s vital that you organise your finances in advance and be clear about what you are looking for.

Step 1: Decide what you want in a home/property and organise your finances.

You should buy your home and/or property on the basis of what you can afford, your current and future needs, and your lifestyle.

Make sure you have loan approval from your bank or lender before you begin looking at property.  Some finance providers will not give final approval until they have seen the Contract for Sale of the property and obtained property details.  It is important to know what you can afford and what your bank or lender is able to approve.

Before you start looking for a property prepare a list of your requirements.  You might want to consider:

  • What area or suburb do you want to buy in?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • How much land you need and can maintain?
  • Do you need a garage or carport?
  • Do you want a garden, verandah, entertainment area?
  • Do you need to be near public transport, schools and work?
  • Do you have any special needs, for example, level access, room for a home office?
  • Are you prepared to renovate if the property requires repairs or upgrading?
  • What are you able to pay? Is this realistic considering what you want?

As you look you may find some of the things you identified at the start may change.  This is quite normal.  Be prepared to change what you require as you gain a realistic picture of the property market.

Step 2: Looking for a suitable property

Contact one of our professional sales executives and let them know what you are looking for. Brief them on any special requirements. Always be aware that the seller appoints the agent and as such, agents must act in the seller’s interests.

Refer at our website for a comprehensive list of all property currently listed with our company and join our buyer alert system – be the first to know when a property that meets your needs comes onto the market!

Make an appointment with an agent to inspect properties of interest.  Take notes when you look at properties.  It’s easy to forget important details after looking at a number of properties.

When you look at properties, ask lots of questions about things you are uncertain about. Purchasing a property is a big investment and you need to be confident you’re making the right decision.

Some things to look for when you inspect:

• Is the property in good condition?

• Is it located in a street and area that is suitable?

• Does it have the features you want? If not, list what isn’t there.

• If you like a property, inspect it at different times.

• Is there enough storage space?

• What repairs are required?

• Is it in reasonable condition for the price asked and how does it compare to other properties?

If you are interested in a property but unsure about some details, ask the agent if you can go back and have another look.

Step 3: Making an offer on the property

At this point you have found the property you have been looking for.  It is important to ensure your finances are in order before making an offer.  Some finance providers will not give final approval until they have seen the Contract for Sale of the property and obtained property details. 

The agent will be able to provide a copy of the contract to you if held if your bank or lender requires it. You need to make an offer of what you are prepared to pay for the property. Negotiate if you think the price is too high.  It is important to understand that the agent is employed to act on behalf of the vendor and has a good understanding of the price they are willing to accept for their home/property.

If there are any special terms to your offer you must disclose this to the agent at the time of making the offer so that these may also be submitted to the vendor with the offer.

The agent will discuss all offers with the seller.

IMPORTANT: Unless otherwise instructed an agent must by law continue to market the property until contracts have formally exchanged.  When you find the property you want to buy, Gazumping is something to be aware of if you make an offer on a property.  Gazumping occurs when you negotiate a price for a property that is accepted by the seller, however, before contracts are exchanged, another buyer makes a higher offer or offers better terms that the seller accepts and contracts are exchanged with the other person.

Step 4: Finalise your finances and find an experienced solicitor or conveyancer

Once you have an offer accepted on a property it is important to notify your bank or lender immediately so that your finance can be finalised..

Don’t forget to allow for additional costs such as stamp duty on the contract, mortgage stamp duty and solicitor’s or conveyancer’s fees.

You’ll also need to think about other hidden costs such as renovation, repair costs, moving fees, insurance and adjustments to rates and levies on settlement.

Find a solicitor or conveyancer who is experienced in conveyancing and check how much they will charge you.  The Law Society of NSW has a list of solicitors by local area.  Conveyancers specialise in conveyancing and must be licensed by the Department of Fair Trading.  They are listed in the Yellow Pages or you can inquire by calling the Conveyancing Society of NSW. Check whether the fees charged include disbursements such as title searches, photocopying and other searches.  The below links may assist you locating an appropriate solicitor or conveyancer.

Law Society of NSW Australian Institute of Conveyancers

Step 5: Consider professional inspections

It is important to consider having inspections done by experts to check for any problems.

If you are considering buying at auction and you want to have special inspections done, these must be arranged prior to the auction day. Sometimes, these inspections are done after you have made an offer on a property. It may be advisable to have the property thoroughly checked by experts. Your solicitor or conveyancer can give you guidance in this matter.

Some points to consider:

• A building inspection is done by a registered builder.

• It is also a good idea to check for pests, such as termites.

• If you are considering buying a unit, you should arrange an inspection of the books and records of the owners’ corporation. The strata manager of the building secretary maintains these.

• Make sure qualified professionals conduct these inspections. You should remember that the cost of the inspections might seem a lot.  However, they may find faults that could be expensive to fix.  This could add to the overall cost of your property.  Compared to the price paid, the inspections may be money well spent.

Step 6: Exchange of contracts

The contract sets out the terms and conditions of the sale. It also identifies items such as floor coverings, curtains or other inclusions that are either included or excluded in the contract. Your solicitor or conveyancer will examine the contract carefully.  There are two copies of the sale contract – one for you and one for the seller.  You each sign one copy before they are swapped or “exchanged” and the deposit is handed over.  Only when both the seller and the buyer have signed the contract and exchanged copies do you both become bound by the contract.  The deposit will be held by either the agent, invested in an interest bearing deposit or released to the seller.  The contract will stipulate the deposit details.

There can be a five-business day cooling off period unless you have bought at an auction, it is rural land (above 2.5 hectares) or commercial property, or you may be asked to sign an agreement waiving the right to the five-day cooling off period.  This is known as a section 66W certificate.  A solicitor or barrister must sign it.  The five-day cooling off period (after exchange) allows you time to conduct searches, obtain reports, confirm your finance and gives you the opportunity to withdraw.  However, if you do not continue with the sale, you will forfeit 0.25% of the purchase price from the deposit you have paid if you decide to do so.  Discuss with your solicitor or conveyancer your rights and obligations during the cooling off period.  Real estate agents can exchange contracts in a private treaty sale with a cooling off period. Real estate agents do exchange contracts under auction conditions and there is no cooling off period.

Step 7: Settlement

Settlement occurs when the buyer pays the balance of the selling price. Adjustments are made for water and council rates, strata levies for units and any outstanding mortgages are paid out by the seller from the purchase price.  The buyer becomes the legal owner of the property after settlement.

The period between the exchange of contracts and settlement is usually four to six weeks, although either party may ask for a longer or shorter settlement period prior to exchange.  Make sure the settlement period suits your needs.  This will affect your move and the sale of your own property if you have one.  Organising a move into the property on the settlement day can sometimes be difficult, as there can be last minute issues that may delay settlement by hours or days.  Ideally do not plan to move in on day of settlement.

Helpful information.

Contact the Office of State Revenue on (02) 9685 2187, or Freecall 1300 130 624 to see if you are eligible for any applicable grants or duty concessions.  The website address is


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