Navigating Property Sales in Western Australia: Offer and Acceptance Process

In Western Australia, most property transactions occur through an offer and acceptance process. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you understand this process and what to expect.

The Offer and Acceptance Process

When you’re interested in purchasing a property, you make a formal written offer. The seller, also known as the vendor, can either accept your offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer. The negotiation continues until both parties reach an agreement.

The offer is typically made using two key documents:

  1. Contract for Sale of Land or Strata Title by Offer and Acceptance (O & A): This form outlines the specifics of your offer.
  2. Joint Form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land (General Conditions): This document includes the standard contractual terms.

Together, these documents form the standard contract for real estate sales in Western Australia. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) and the Law Society of Western Australia commonly produce the most widely used versions of these forms.

Making an Offer

To make an offer, you should:

  • Approach the real estate agent or the seller directly if it’s a private sale.
  • Ensure the O & A form includes:
    • Your full name
    • The date of the offer
    • Property address
    • Certificate of Title details
    • Offered purchase price
    • Payment details for the deposit and balance
    • Any special conditions (e.g., termite inspection, subject to sale of another property)
    • Intended settlement date

Special Conditions: You can amend the O & A form to include any special conditions that meet the needs of both parties. The General Conditions typically remain unchanged, though some conditions can be contracted out.

Engaging Agents

If an agent is involved, they must act in the best interests of the seller, their client. As a buyer, you can hire a buyer’s agent to represent your interests. Ensure you enter into a written contract with your chosen agent, similar to how sellers contract with their agents.

Key Considerations

Property Interest Report (PIR): It’s advisable to obtain a PIR from Landgate to check for any unrecorded interests or restrictions affecting the property. This report provides information on over 70 interests not listed on the Certificate of Title.

Cooling Off Period: Note that there is no mandatory cooling-off period in Western Australia. If you want one, it must be included as a special condition in the contract.

Finance Clause: If you need a loan to purchase the property, complete the finance clause on the O & A form. Understand the implications and seek professional advice if unsure. Never make a cash offer without professional advice if financing is required.

The General Conditions

The General Conditions cover various issues such as:

  • Encumbrances (third-party interests like mortgages or leases)
  • Payment and handling of deposits
  • Settlement and delays
  • Possession terms
  • Representations about the property
  • Costs responsibility
  • Strata titles disclosure

Special Conditions

Special conditions can address specific needs like repairs, inspections, or sale contingencies. These conditions must be clear and precisely worded to avoid future disputes. Both parties must initial any amendments to indicate agreement.

Underground Power and Sewerage Connections

The General Conditions also specify responsibilities for underground power and sewerage connections:

  • Underground Power: The buyer pays if the decision for connection is made after the contract date.
  • Sewerage Connection: If available, the buyer has 12 months to connect the property to the sewer mains. The seller must pay connection costs if these have been determined before the contract date.

Timber Pests and Building Inspections

It’s wise to include conditions for timber pest and building inspections to ensure the property is structurally sound and free from pest damage. Specify that inspections comply with relevant Australian Standards.

Chattels and Fixtures

Clearly list all items included in the sale to avoid disputes. Generally, fixtures (e.g., built-in appliances) stay with the property, while chattels (e.g., movable items) do not, unless specified otherwise in the contract.

Pool, Spa, and Safety Requirements

Sellers must ensure pool and spa enclosures comply with regulations and that safety switches and smoke detectors are installed as required by law.

Counteroffers and Acceptance

Sellers can make counteroffers, which the buyer can accept, reject, or further negotiate. The contract becomes binding once all terms are agreed upon and communicated.

Lodgement and Ownership

Buyers must lodge the original O & A for transfer duty assessment within a specified time to avoid penalties. Ensure you understand the forms of ownership (joint tenants vs. tenants in common) and seek professional advice if needed.

Deposits and Insurance

A deposit, though not mandatory, demonstrates commitment and is held in a trust account. Insurance should be arranged by the buyer once the O & A is signed.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the offer and acceptance process in Western Australia is crucial for a smooth property transaction. Always seek professional advice to navigate any complexities and ensure your interests are protected.

For more detailed information and resources, visit Consumer Protection WA or contact relevant authorities like Landgate and the Department of Finance.

Thinking of Selling?

Ready to unlock your property’s full potential? Contact David Beshay for a personalised and accurate in-person assessment that aligns with the dynamic real estate landscape in Mandurah. Contact David Beshay here to get the most up to date appraisal of how much your home will be worth in this market! Otherwise feel free to view David’s recent sales here

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