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Buying a home

Navigating a private treaty sale

29 January 2018

This article is part of The Homeowner’s Journey series, featuring case studies from homeowners and property professionals.

Buying a house through a private treaty sale can be a lengthy and complicated process, which may take up quite a bit of your time and energy. As a buyer’s advocate, Director of Industry Insider Andrew Date is an expert at helping his customers navigate property private treaty sales. Here, he sheds some light on how to go about it.

The private treaty sale explained

If you’re buying a house through a private treaty sale, you’ll need to know how the process works. There are four main stages to the private treaty sale process:

1. Financial

Firstly, it’s highly recommended that you get your finances checked over by a bank or lender and obtain pre-approval for a loan. This will allow you to figure out what you can afford to offer on a property. 

2. Due diligence

Next, you’ll have to do your due diligence, which starts with having your solicitor or conveyancer review the contract of sale, particularly the vendor statement or disclosure statement. While this section of the contract is called different things in different states, it’s essentially the blueprint that outlines the property’s history and anything that might be wrong with it. A trained professional will look out for things that could devalue the property, such as an easement or heritage overlay. At this stage of the process you should also get a professional to conduct a building and pest inspection to highlight any hidden problems.

3. Negotiation

After your conveyancer/solicitor gives the property the green light, you’ll enter the negotiation stage. Check with your mortgage broker or bank to see if you can make an unconditional offer. This means that there won’t be any ‘subject to finance’ condition on your offer and if the vendor accepts, your offer will go straight through. During this process, ensure you keep a clear paper trail of all communications about your offer.

4. Settlement

Once you’ve submitted your offer, one of two things will happen. It will either be accepted outright, or you’ll negotiate the finer details with the vendor. With a private treaty sale, there’s often a cooling off period, the length of which depends on which state you live in (usually 2-5 business days). Once all conditions on the contract have been met, you’ll officially be the new homeowner after the agreed settlement period has finished.

Negotiation tricks and tips 

As a buyer’s advocate who previously worked as a property auctioneer, I’ve seen both sides of property purchase.

"The price is not the only factor that will make the vendor choose one offer over another, and asking for extra conditions won’t always be a turn-off."

Here are some tried and tested techniques to help you:

Be flexible on your settlement period

When you submit an offer, you’ll also give the vendor a settlement date. Try and find out what the vendor’s situation is, and suggest a settlement date that will be convenient for them. For example if they haven’t found another property yet, they probably want a longer settlement period – 60 or 90 days – in order to get themselves relocated. If they do have a property lined up, they’ll have a date that they need to work to. Try and find out what it is and work to their date so they’ll be more likely to accept your offer. As I mentioned, it’s not all about the price you offer. A vendor is more likely to accept an offer that is convenient for them.

Get in early

If you’re purchasing a vacant property, you can write into the contract a special condition that allows you to access the property prior to settlement so you can get started on minor renovations. You should remain cautious of the potential risk of this if the settlement doesn’t proceed for any reason, however this may mean you’re able to get in early and start painting, relaying carpet or altering curtains, to save you time when you move in. It’s worth asking! 

Ask about deposit requirements

There’s a myth that you absolutely need to have a 10% deposit when purchasing a house. Actually, this isn’t true, and it’s possible to have a conversation with the selling agent to see if the vendor will accept a 5% deposit instead. Again, it’s worth asking as it could give you more flexibility in the long run.

Who you need to know

"When buying a house through a private treaty sale, you’ll want to work with a few key professionals to ensure a smooth process with minimal stress."

These people can help you navigate the sale and avoid any dangers.

Lending specialist 

Your first point of contact when purchasing a house is someone who can help advise you on what type of home loan to get, and outline your options. For this you can speak to a Mobile Lender, or a mortgage broker. They’ll be there right from the start, helping you attain pre-approval from the bank and getting all your paperwork sorted. 


You’ll also want to have a good working relationship with your conveyancer or solicitor. Both you and the vendor will have a conveyancer or solicitor who will work through the legal details of transferring property ownership over. Your conveyancer/solicitor will look over your contract as soon as it becomes available and highlight any risks or problems with the property, and they’ll work with you right through to settlement.

Building and pest inspector

Though not a huge expense compared with the property you’re about to purchase, the few hundred dollars you’ll spend on a professional building and pest inspector is some of the most important money you’ll fork out. This person will identify any problems with the building before you purchase it, so you don’t end up accidentally buying a property teeming with termites!

And if you need help… a buyer’s advocate

Lastly, if learning the ins and outs of the property market isn’t for you, the good news is that you can use a buyer’s advocate to represent you in the real estate transaction. They can help you locate, evaluate and negotiate property, advising on good opportunities to get into the market if you aren’t confident doing this alone. They can also access exclusive properties. For example, my team purchase between four and five properties per month, and one in three of them are not actually advertised for sale online.

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Buying a house, whether it’s your first home or an investment property, is incredibly exciting, but it can also be nerve wracking. Make sure you speak to a team of trusted professionals to help you through the process. You should seek advice from a financial advisor about your finance options in preparation for a private treaty sale. For more details on the home loan options Suncorp Bank offers, visit your local branch, enquire online or call us on 13 11 55.

The information is intended to be of a general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.

Home Loans are provided by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 Australian Credit Licence 229882 (“Suncorp Bank”) to approved applicants only. Terms, conditions, fees and charges apply and are available upon request.