June 8, 2023

Buying a house in Australia

Thinking about buying a house? Purchasing real estate is likely to be one of the biggest personal and investment decisions of your life, so it is critical that you have a good understanding of the home buying process and all the steps involved.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed or out of your depth, particularly if you are a first home buyer. Remember to take your time, and consult industry professionals such as financial advisors or conveyancing solicitors if you are unsure about any aspect of your purchase.

Research The Costs Involved

Aside from the purchase price of the property, there are other costs you should be aware of from the outset so you can budget accordingly.

These include;

Stamp Duty (Or Transfer Duty)

This will vary according to the purchase price of the property, which state or territory it is in, whether you are purchasing the property as a home to live in or an investment property, and whether you are eligible for any concessions. For an estimate of the amount of stamp duty you’ll be up for, you can use a stamp duty estimator; these are usually available on state government websites.

Legal And Conveyancing Fees

A conveyancer’s job is to take care of all the legal work associated with buying or selling property. This includes preparing and lodging legal documents, performing searches on the property, calculating adjustments of figures such as rates, and representing the client at settlement. The expertise of your conveyancer can help ensure everything goes smoothly on your settlement date, and help you avoid costly mistakes.

We recommend you look for a fixed-fee arrangement when you are choosing a conveyancer. In a fixed-fee arrangement, the conveyancer will do all the work for an agreed-upon fee, and this can prevent your legal costs from skyrocketing.

Building And Pest Inspection

Many contracts for the sale of property are subject to building and pest. This usually means the Buyer can cancel the contract within a certain timeframe if they are unsatisfied with a building and pest report they obtain at their expense.

Building and pest inspections can range from $400-$1,000 or more depending on the property size and location.


Property searches are a critical part of the conveyancing process for home Buyers as they can reveal important information about the property, such as whether there are any easements or other restrictions on how the owner can deal with the property, and whether there are any debts owing over the property that would otherwise pass to the Buyer on settlement, such as outstanding land tax.

The cost of searches varies by council area, and any relevant particulars of the individual property.


In Queensland, the property is at the Buyer’s risk from 5pm on the first business day after the contract of sale is signed. It is therefore strongly recommended the Buyers take out building insurance, contents insurance and public liability insurance as soon as the contract is signed.

In Victoria, the Buyer does not assume responsibility for the property until settlement, however is is recommended that the Buyer takes out their own insurance from the time they sign the contract, just to be on the safe side.

Other Costs

The above is not an exhaustive list, and you should be prepared for unexpected costs to arise through the process, and ensure you have a buffer in place to guard against them.

Decide Whether You Are Ready

Any property purchase is a big step, whether you are purchasing a home or investment property.

It’s important to assess how ready you are to purchase; things like job security, family situation, and planning for the future will be relevant to this decision.

Find Out How Much You Can Borrow

Taking out a home loan to fund your purchase can be a daunting and complicated process. It’s important to shop around for the best deal to suit your circumstances, and to carefully consider what your mortgage repayments are going to be along with any other financial commitments you might have.

You should also consider how much deposit you are able to put down – if the deposit amount is greater than 20% of the property value, you may be able to avoid paying for lender’s mortgage insurance.

Research Suburbs & Decide Which Property Type Is Right For You

Once you have an idea of the right price range for you, you can start to do your due diligence on the property market in the area in which you wish to buy.

You should consider how many bedrooms you need, and other lifestyle needs such as proximity to public transport, schools and shopping centres.

Obtain Pre Approval From Your Lender

It is a good idea for a home Buyer to obtain pre approval or conditional approval for their home loan prior to attending property inspections.

The process for pre approval and the length of time pre approval lasts varies – speak to your mortgage broker or lender to ensure you understand any relevant terms and conditions.

Attend Property Inspections & Talk To The Real Estate Agent

This is where the property search begins! When attending open houses at different properties, make sure you talk to the real estate agent, as he or she may have other properties about to be listed that might suit your needs.

Sign The Contract – Know Your Rights Before You Sign!

The contract of sale will set out the agreement between the Buyer and the Seller, and all the particulars, including;

  • Buyers and Sellers details
  • The agreed purchase price
  • The real estate agents details
  • Details of the property

The contract will usually contain general or standard conditions, may be subject to finance, building and pest and/or other special conditions.

It is important that you seek advice before you sign so you understand your rights and obligations under the contract.

A conveyancing solicitor will be able to review you contract and guide you through all the legalities. At Keylaw, we offer our clients complimentary contract review when you engage our services.

The Conveyancing Process

The legalities involved in buying a house can be quite complex, and it is a good idea to have a qualified and experienced conveyancer looking out for your interests throughout the contract and settlement period.

Your conveyancer will guide you through each step of the process, and make sure your settlement goes as smoothly as possible on settlement day.


Once the settlement process is complete, the property has officially changed hands, and you are able to arrange to pick up the keys to your new place!

First Home Buyers

If you and your spouse or partner have never owned property before, you may be eligible for a first home owner grant.

The eligibility requirements of this grant vary from state to state; you can see whether you qualify here.

You may also be eligible for a first home stamp duty concession, subject the requirements of your state or territory.

The Victorian government also offers a range of other schemes for first home buyers.

More Questions?

No matter where you are in your home buying journey, the team at Keylaw Conveyancing can assist. From pre-contract reviews up to settlement day, our team have the expertise to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today, or head over to our quote page for a free, no-obligation quote.

The above is not legal advice and is general information only