Selling a Residential Property

Ready to sell your property?

Once a decision to sell your property has been made, it is important to have an understanding of the general conveyancing process and your obligations when selling residential property.

Our property and conveyancing lawyers have assisted many vendors with the sale of their residential property, and we look forward to guiding you through this process. Get in touch with us today on 02 9262 4003 to see how we can assist you or submit an online enquiry.

Preparing the contract and putting your property on the market

In NSW, residential property cannot be advertised for sale unless there is a written contract available for prospective purchasers. The Contract of Sale must include certain information and disclosure documents by law. Failure to include these documents in the contract may entitle the purchaser to rescind (cancel) the contract and have their deposit refunded. You can learn more about the documents required to be included in our article: “legal considerations to selling a property.”

If you are listing the property with a real estate agent, the contract will be sent to them for marketing purposes and then issued to prospective purchasers interested in the property.

Our experienced property and conveyancing lawyers can prepare the Contract of Sale for you with all the required legal disclosures, to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Deciding how you would like your property to be sold

There are two ways that you can sell your residential property:

  1. Private treaty; or
  2. Auction.

If you are selling your property by private treaty, the sale price is set through the real estate agent or through an online property service if you are selling the property yourself. Once a price is agreed between you (as the vendor) and the prospective purchaser, negotiations in relation to the property can be done up until the contracts become unconditional.

If you are selling your property by auction, prospective purchasers will attend at a specified location and time to bid on the property. A reserve price, which is the lowest amount that you are willing to accept for the property, is set before the auction. If the highest bid is higher than the reserve price, the property is sold to that bidder.

Exchanging contracts with the purchaser

In NSW, exchange of contracts happens when two copies of the contract (one copy signed by you as the vendor and one copy signed by the purchaser) are swapped or “exchanged” and a deposit is paid.

Exchange of contracts can be done either through a property solicitor, conveyancer or the real estate agent. The date of exchange is noted on the front page of each contract.

Is there a cooling off period?

If the property is sold by private treaty, contracts may be exchanged subject to a cooling off period. Purchasers typically have five business days during which they can withdraw from the transaction. The cooling off period can be waived, reduced or extended by negotiation.   

It is important to note that if you are selling your property by auction, there is no cooling off period.

What happens after contracts are exchanged?

In NSW, the usual settlement period is 42 days (6 weeks) after contracts are exchanged, but can be made longer or shorter by negotiation. If you, as the vendor, are also purchasing a property at the same time, settlement can also be arranged so that funds from the sale of your existing property can go towards the purchase of your new property.

If there is a mortgage on the property, your property solicitor or conveyancer will prompt you to sign a discharge authority so that the bank is aware of the sale and upcoming settlement. The bank will confirm the payout figure to pay out the existing loan shortly before settlement and will organise for the mortgage to be discharged on settlement.

A settlement statement will also be prepared and this sets out the final balance payable to you, taking into account any rates, levies or taxes payable as at the date of settlement. Your property solicitor or conveyancer will check these figures and confirm with you that they are correct. 

If the property is to be vacant on settlement, you should ensure that your belongings are moved out prior to the settlement date. The purchaser will conduct a final inspection to ensure nothing has been damaged in the property and that all inclusions listed in the contract are still there and intact.


This is the final stage of the sale process. At settlement, the purchaser will pay the balance of the purchase price plus any adjustments as required to you as the vendor, and ownership of the property will pass from you as the vendor to the purchaser.

In NSW, settlements now take place electronically. See our article on eConveyancing to learn more. 

Ready to sell your property and need an experienced property and conveyancing lawyer?

 Our trusted team of Sydney property and conveyancing lawyers are here to assist you with the sale of your property to ensure it is a smooth and stress-free process. Get in touch with us today on 02 9262 4003 to discuss, or submit an online enquiry