Exchanging contracts and settlement

Before exchanging contracts, several steps generally need to be undertaken, including:

  • completing all relevant property inspections and checks
  • reviewing and discussing the contract of sale with your solicitor or conveyancer
  • confirming financial arrangements

Exchanging contracts 

Exchanging contracts legally completes the property sale process. It means the seller has accepted the buyer's offer on the home and both have signed the contract of sale.  

At the time of the exchange you will be required to pay the deposit for the home you are buying.

Cooling-off period

Private treaty sales in NSW have a 5 business day cooling-off period after contracts are exchanged.

The cooling-off period starts as soon as you exchange contracts and ends at 5pm on the 5th business day after exchange.

During the cooling-off period, buyers can withdraw from the sale as long as you give written notice. Usually there are financial penalties if you do this and it's worked out as a percentage of the sale price. 

There is no cooling-off period for homes bought at auction. The contract of sale must be finalised after the auction is completed. It is recommended you consult a solicitor or conveyancer before you attend an auction.


Settlement is the process of paying the remaining sale price and becoming the legal owner of a home. At settlement, your lender will disburse funds for your home loan and you'll receive the keys to your home.

Generally, settlement usually takes place around 6 weeks after contracts are exchanged. Your conveyancer or solicitor can check and negotiate the settlement period with the seller. 

You'll need to have budgeted and have money to cover settlement, including:

  • legal costs 
  • conveyancing fees 
  • transfer duty, also known as stamp duty
  • unpaid lending charges such as Mortgage Lenders Insurance (LMI) or loan establishment fees, if applicable

Some sale contracts will allow buyers to carry out a final inspection of a home on the day of settlement. This inspection is to make sure the home is in the same condition as when contracts were exchanged.

After settlement and a final inspection is complete, you can move into your new home.