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If you're thinking about selling your house privately in ACT, the first thing to consider is whether you have a right to sell your property without an agent. The answer is yes, you absolutely do. If you’re at all worried about this, you can confirm it with Access Canberra. With that out of the way, let’s discuss the steps to selling your own home in the ACT.

Step 1: Preparing the contract of sale:

Ensure you have your draft contract for the sale of residential property drawn up by your solicitor before advertising your property for sale.

There are various accompanying reports required depending on the type of property, regarding the physical condition of the building and a statement of any provisions that might impact on the allowable use of the house or land. Refer ‘Reality Check – a real estate guide for buyers and sellers in the ACT’ to find out which of the following you will need:

  • The Crown Lease
  • The Certificate of Title
  • A copy of any encumbrance shown on the Certificate of Title
  • A statement about any encumbrance not shown on the Certificate of Title
  • Asbestos assessment report or asbestos advice
  • The deposited plan
  • A Building Conveyancing Enquiry
  • A Lease Conveyancing Enquiry
  • An Energy Efficiency Rating Statement
  • A Building and Inspection Compliance Report
  • A Pest Inspection Report
  • A copy of the unit’s plan or proposed unit’s plan
  • A Certificate of Title for the common property
  • A copy of the minutes of meetings of the owners corporation and executive committee for the last two years
  • A Unit Title Certificate

Step 2: Setting your price:

When you set your price ensure it does not misrepresent the property’s sale price, as that is illegal. The selling price should not be lower than an agent’s estimated price or the lowest amount you would accept. To research your price, you can:

Step 3: Open Homes and Private Inspections:

Once your property is advertised you will likely need to allow buyers to inspect the property through open homes or private inspections.

Step 4: Receiving the offer:

Generally, offers are submitted in the way of a signed contract for sale of residential property. Sometimes buyers may add an expiration clause to the sale contract so that the offer does not remain open indefinitely if the vendor has not signed by a certain date. Have your solicitor review any changes made by the buyer to the sales contract.

If someone makes you an offer on your property you may take a holding deposit of the full amount or a nominated partial amount. This should be held in your solicitor’s trust account or a trust account you’ve arranged through PropertyNow, to be returned if you do not accept the offer.

Step 5: Signing the contract of sale:

The next step in the legal process of selling a property in the ACT is for you and the buyer to sign the sale contract. You will need to have two copies of the contract, one for you to sign and one for the buyer to sign. You should sign your copy, and give it is to the buyer to sign also. From this point, you could consider marking your property as “Under Contract” on various websites, but you should still keep a record of any enquiries from other buyers in case the sale falls through.

Step 6: Exchange:

Exchange simply means that both you and the buyer have signed a copy of the contract of sale and have exchanged these with each other. Exchange doesn’t necessarily have to happen in person, it can also be done via mail or via a third party such as your conveyancer. Keep in mind that you and the buyer aren’t legally bound until all copies of the contract have been signed and exchanged.

The balance of the deposit is payable by the buyer and should be held in trust until settlement occurs (e.g. 10% of the purchase price less holding deposit).

Once the sale has unconditionally exchanged, you can go ahead and mark it as sold on the websites.

Step 7: Cooling Off:

In the ACT, the buyer is entitled to a cooling off period of 5 business days, however this can be waived or amended if both parties agree. To change it you need to obtain legal advice and a signed certificate from a solicitor to give to the seller. The cooling off period commences the first business day after you exchanged the contract.  During this time, the buyer can cancel the sale. However, if the buyer makes their offer after bidding at an unsuccessful auction it is generally unconditional with no cooling off period.

If the buyer cancels the sale in this period, they’ll have to forfeit 0.25% of the purchase price. You will need to refund any deposit paid, less the 0.25% - if a deposit hasn’t yet been paid, the buyer will owe you the 0.25%. The 0.25% won’t apply if the buyer has cancelled the sale under allowable conditions within the contract of course.

After the cooling-off period has ended, the balance of the deposit is payable by the buyer and should be held in trust until settlement occurs (e.g. 10% of the purchase price less any holding deposit).

An important thing to keep in mind with regards to cooling off periods in the ACT is that they only apply to the buyer, once you’ve exchanged contracts, you cannot simply cancel the sale as a seller.
Once the sale has cooled off or unconditionally exchanged, you can go ahead and mark it as sold on the websites.

Step 8: Settlement:

On signing the contract, you and the buyer will agree to a settlement date. Settlement is commonly 30 to 90 days after exchange but this can be varied if both parties agree. At settlement the buyer 'settles' their purchase by paying the purchase price, less their deposit. They must also reimburse the cost of the building and compliance inspection report, and pest inspection report. If you're using a solicitor, they may meet with the buyer’s solicitor to ensure they have everything needed for the sale to proceed.

With those steps out of the way it’s time to put your feet up and congratulate yourself on a job well done – you’ve just successfully sold your house without an agent.

Selling via Auction:

If there is high demand for your property you may prefer to sell it at auction. Ideally you should book your Auctioneer prior to listing your property, so that the date and time can be included in any advertising.

The auction conditions, contract for sale of residential property and required documents must be on display for at least 30 minutes before the auction starts.

Once the reserve price is met or exceeded, then the property is sold. If no reserve was set, then the highest bidder wins at any price. There is no cooling-off period and the contract of sale is unconditional.

Settlement occurs in the same way as for a private treaty sale.

Selling by Tender:

This method of selling can also be used. Buyers are required to submit their written offer by a specified time, and the seller can choose to accept the highest bid (or not). A holding deposit may be required with the bid. There is no cooling off period under this method.