Making an offer on a house

Winning offers aren’t always about the highest price. RE/MAX sales agent Demo Foufas shares seven other effective things you can do when making an offer on a house. They’ll help make the whole process easier, too.

1. Engage the sales agent early

According to Demo, many prospective buyers make the mistake of sitting back once they’ve found a property they like, only to enquire about it after it’s gone ‘under offer’ – at which point it’s too late.

Let the sales agent know you’re interested or – at the very least – ask them to contact you if any formal offers are submitted so you then have the opportunity to submit your own offer.

2. Avoid verbal offers

It can be better to submit a formal written offer to show that you’re a legitimate buyer. Demo suggests meeting with the sales agent to prepare it – they should have the relevant paperwork and certificate of title available for you.

The written offer should include:

  • your name and address, as well of those of the seller
  • your offered purchase price and the property address
  • financial details like your deposit and your lender’s details, or if you’re paying cash
  • the settlement date (this is when the seller receives their money and you get the titles to the property)
  • the included chattels (additional things included in the sale like dishwashers, built-in barbeques or fridges)
  • conditions of the sale
  • additional contract clauses.

3. Use contract clauses to your advantage

Including additional contract clauses can help reduce risk during the buying process, says Demo. They can allow you to complete further due diligence on the property and have the seller fix any issues before settlement.

Common contract clauses to consider include:

  • pest inspections to check the property is free from activity or structural damage from timber pests
  • good working order clause for electrical, plumbing and gas
  • building inspections to check the dwelling is structurally sound
  • swimming pool/spa clause to ensure they’re in good working order.

4. Get finance pre-approval before searching for a property

Pre-approved finance – also called conditional approval – will give you a clear idea of what you can borrow and afford.

It also puts you in a stronger position when you make an offer – it gives the seller more certainty that you can pay for the property.

5. Determine your offer price

Just because a seller advertises their property for a particular price, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pay that amount.

To make sure you’re paying the correct price, Demo recommends doing your own research into how much similar properties have been selling for in the area. Attend home opens, talk to local real estate agents, and check out sales information on property websites.

Our Home Finance Managers can even give you free property reports that show you things like the median price range for units and houses in the area – including a ball park price range for the property you’re interested in.

6. Understand the seller’s motivations

Winning offers aren’t always about the highest price, says Demo. You also need to consider the conditions of the sale contract and what might appeal to the seller. If you understand what motivates them, you can potentially use it to your advantage.

For example, a family selling their property may want a longer settlement period to give them more time to find, buy and move into their new home. In this instance, offering a longer settlement period could be the difference between successfully or unsuccessfully negotiating the purchase of a property.

That’s why it can help to ask the sales agent questions like:

  • Why are the owners selling?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Have there been any formal offers received?
  • How long have the sellers owned the property?

7. Find a settlement agent

To finalise the sale transaction, you’ll need help from a settlement agent, sometimes referred to as a conveyancer. They’ll generally:

  • Lodge documents to transfer the details of ownership on the certificate of title
  • Make the necessary enquiries about the property’s rates, titles and zoning
  • Check that special conditions in the contract have been met before settlement
  • Attend settlement on your behalf.


Demo says that most real estate agents will recommend a settlement agent. It’s a good idea to get a few quotes from reputable companies before deciding on which settlement agent to use. Make sure these quotes are in writing and that they outline all fees and charges, including any government costs.

Watch Demo share his tips

Buying Your First Home with Demo Foufas: Connect Events highlights

Video transcript (PDF, 73KB)

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Things you should know

The information contained in the Property Report is prepared by a third party. Bankwest is not responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the information generated in the report and it should not be relied upon as a valuation of the subject property.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice. Also to the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL / Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accept no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this article.