Real Estate in ACT. The 8 Steps to Selling a House in Canberra

Do you have the right to sell your house privately in ACT without an agent? 

The answer is yes, you absolutely do (check Access Canberra if you’re at all worried). 

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.

Various accompanying reports are required depending on the type of property you’re selling, including the physical condition of the building and a statement of any provisions that might impact the allowable use of the house or land. 

Refer to ‘Reality Check – a real estate guide for buyers and sellers in the ACT’ to find out which of the following you’ll need:

  • The Crown Lease
  • 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 or proposed unit’s plan
  • A Certificate of Title for the common property
  • A copy of the minutes for the last two owner’s corporation and executive committee meetings.

Step 2: Setting your price

Request a free property valuation report online

It’s illegal to misrepresent your property’s sale price. 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:

  • Request a free property valuation report online at If available, you will also receive a free property suburb report for your postcode. Research similar sold properties and for sale properties online, e.g. at , or
  • Obtain a valuation from an independent Property Valuer
  • Request a property valuation estimate or range from real estate agents.

Step 3: Open Homes and Private Inspections

Once your property is advertised, you’ll need to allow buyers to inspect it via open homes or private inspections.

Step 4: Receiving the offer

Generally, offers are submitted via 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 to the sales contract made by the buyer.

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

Signing the sales contract is the next legal step to sell a property in the ACT. You’ll 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 then give it is to the buyer to sign too. 

You can now mark your property as “Under Contract” on marketing websites, but you should still keep a record of any enquiries from other buyers, just 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 them. Exchange doesn’t necessarily have to happen in person; it can also be done via mail or via a third party (i.e. your conveyancer). Remember 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 now 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.

Step 7: Cooling Off

In the ACT, a buyer is entitled to a cooling-off period of five 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 pass on to the seller. 

The cooling-off period commences the first business day after you exchange the contract.  During this time, the buyer can cancel the sale. However, if the buyer makes their offer after bidding at an unsuccessful auction, this is generally seen as unconditional with no cooling-off period.

If the buyer cancels the sale during the cooling-off period 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 0.25%. 

The 0.25% doesn’t apply if the buyer has cancelled the sale under allowable conditions within the contract.

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. You can’t simply cancel the sale as a seller after you’ve exchanged contracts.

Once the sale has cooled off or unconditionally exchanged, you can go ahead and mark it as sold across your marketing.

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.

Now those steps are 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’s 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.

The property is sold once the reserve price is met or exceeded. 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 requires buyers 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 for sales by tender.

Cooling Off Period

The cooling off period in ACT is 5 business days. The buyer forfeits 0.25% of the purchase price to the seller if they choose not to go ahead with their purchase.

Want to know more? Read 4 things you should know about the cooling off period.

Selling your home during coronavirus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the property market in the ACT has managed to stay afloat. In fact Canberra’s property prices recorded neutral 0% change during the month of April when the pandemic and restrictions were at their highest.

In a bid to prepare and stablilise the economy, the ACT Government quickly rolled out an Economic Stimulus Package. This supported the banks’ move to defer mortgage repayments to homeowners and helped the property market in ACT remain rather buoyant. 

In the wake of pandemic, sellers are once again putting their homes on the market. Buyers have responded  well received, with data showing an uptake in the volume of listings and properties sold as of June 2020.

You don’t have to use an agent to sell your own house in ACT

Did you know PropertyNow can list your property on all the major real estate websites, give you all the real estate support you need to sell your own home, and help you save thousands in agent commissions? You do now!

Contact the PropertyNow team to learn how easy it is to sell your home without an agent:


1300 664 773

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