The sales process

There are four main simple steps that make up the sales process (after an offer has been accepted).

1)   Exchange of contract - exchanging sale contracts is the legal side of selling a home and will happen regardless of whether the home is purchased by private treaty or at auction. There will be two copies of the sale contract, one for the buyer and one for the seller. The buyer signs one contract before it is physically swapped or 'exchanged' to the seller who signs it and vice versa. This can be done by hand or post and is generally organised by the solicitor, conveyancer or agent. At the time of the exchange, the buyer is required to pay a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price.

2)   Deposit - the deposit is normally 10% of the purchase price. This is held in a trust account by the agent or solicitor until settlement date.

3)   Cooling-off period - once the property is exchanged there is usually a 5 day 'cooling-off' period (for the buyer to decide and confirm they definitely want to proceed with the sale). The cooling-off period can be waived, reduced or extended by request and negotiation. There is no cooling-off period when purchasing a property at auction.

4)   Settlement - settlement is when the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price and becomes the legal owner of the property. The settlement period can be anywhere from 21 days after the signing of the contract but is dependant on the conditions stated in the contract of sale. Once the settlement is complete, your solicitor will instruct the agent to hand over the keys to the new purchaser and the property is officially theirs.