Properties, Homes & Real Estate For Sale | McGrath

Live where you love

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understanding the process of buying a house or an apartment

When you buy a home, you are buying much more than four walls and a roof over your head.  You are buying a lifestyle for you or your family. 


Given the significance of this decision, it is often an emotionally charged process with hundreds of questions, both big and small.


Having helped thousands of people buy properties, we wanted to share our insights, to walk you through how to buy a house or a unit.

Understanding the buying a property process


Understanding the process of buying a house or unit

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understanding the process of buying a house or unit

Once you have made the decision to buy a new home, knowing how to research the market and what to look for in a neighbourhood are key.



Before you even start looking around at properties to buy, it is a good idea to find out how much you can afford to borrow and, even better, get pre-approval for a loan.


The team at Oxygen Home Loans can help you. They will assess:


  • Employment history or continuous income
  • Your deposit - 10% to 20% is ideal  
  • Your monthly expenses
  • Your credit history
  • Any debts you may have
  • Your assets
  • Any other loans you may have


Want to quickly see how much you may be able to borrow? 

How much money can I borrow?



Research the market - talk to your local McGrath Sales Agent

STEP 1  |  talk to your local mcgrath sales agent

Your local McGrath Sales Agent lives and breathes real estate in the area. They can share insights into the local market conditions and current buyer activity and are aware of properties that are on, off and coming onto the market.


STEP 2  |  Where to find property market data

Websites such as CoreLogic and Australian Property Monitors can provide you with comprehensive facts and figures on the property market. These reports explain supply and demand in specific neighbourhoods and can help you better understand areas that are primed for growth.


Additionally, most government websites provide reports or community profiles that disclose information about council plans, development projects or building regulations.

Research the market - where to find property market data
Research the market - find recent sales data


Talk to you local McGrath Sales Agent. Additionally, real estate portals provide a comprehensive list of homes for sale and historical sales data. They also have powerful search tools that enable you to sift through the entire market from the comfort of your lounge.




Location is a home buyer's most important consideration. You can always renovate or improve a home, but you cannot change its location. The location also directly influences the capital growth of the property. If you buy in an area primed for growth it can help build your personal wealth faster.


But what actually makes a great location? In essence, a great location is one that allows you to live the lifestyle you want for you and your family. It is the mix of physical location, the character of the suburb and its proximity to desirable amenities.

What makes a great location when buying real estate




Neighbourhood features to look for when buying a home

Sometimes people get fixated on a particular street or suburb and this narrow focus means they can overlook some great opportunities. After all you can probably create your desired lifestyle in a number of locations.”

- John McGrath, Founder, Executive Director


Location is a home buyer's most important consideration. You can always renovate or improve a home, but you cannot change its location. Capital growth is also directly influenced by location.


Here is a look at some key ways you can assess a neighbourhood:


  • Proximity to amenities such as schools and parks
  • How long will it take to get to work?
  • Does the suburb have a low crime rate?
  • Are the homes in the area well maintained?
  • Does it have good walkability to services?
  • Are there any planned upgrades?
  • Does it have historic charm?
  • How might development plans affect lifestyle and property price?
  • What are the aspect, views and outlook like?


Keeping an open mind as to where you want to live can help you find your property sooner. 

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how to find the right property and successfully buy it

Finding and buying a property is easier when you know where to look, what questions to ask and how to do your due diligence. 


Here we take a deep dive into the different ways to buy a house or unit and how to successfully navigate the settlement process.

How to find the right property and successfully buy it




House hunting - what to consider

If you are committed to finding a great home at the right price in the right location, it takes time.


Going to open home inspections, talking to the agents, walking around neighbourhoods and going to auctions all give you good insights that cannot be garnered from a computer.


Not only does this help give you clarity about what is available, what you like and dislike, it also ensures your knowledge of local markets is deepened.


You will develop great instincts for how much a property should sell for, which will ensure you pay the price that is in line with local market conditions.


 As you head out to inspect properties:


  • Have a positive attitude - after all it is exciting
  • Write down a property wish list
  • Choose your preferred suburbs
  • Make sure you can afford a home in your chosen suburbs
  • Attend multiple opens homes to fully gauge the market


Do not forget to read community group forums on social media.




Due diligence can help safeguard you from buying a property with issues that may cost you a fortune down the track.


Conducting a thorough inspection of the property is step number one. Our handy room by room checklists can help guide you on what to look for when buying a house or an apartment.

Doing your due diligence before buying a home




Questions to ask a sales agent when buying a home

Here are 10 questions to get you started:


  • Why are they selling the property?
  • Have the owners done any renovations recently?
  • Can you please provide a list of comparable sales from the last 3 months?
  • How much are the council rates?
  • Are there any restrictions on the property?
  • Are they aware of any planned zoning changes?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Have they received any offers and if so, how much?
  • Are the vendors willing to negotiate?
  • Are they open to pre-auction offers?


It is also very important that you organise a professional pest and building inspection and a strata report as they identify issues not visible to the naked eye.  Whilst no property is perfect, knowing if there are any serious issues with the property can help you make smarter buying decisions.


And of course, your conveyancer or lawyer needs to review the Contract of Sale to ensure it is accurate and there is nothing unexpected.






An auction is a public sale by a licensed auctioneer where the property is sold to the highest bidder. The vendor will set a reserve price in consultation with their agent. This is the lowest amount they are prepared to accept for the property.


If the bidding does not reach the reserve, the property is ‘passed in’ and the agent will then begin negotiating with the highest bidder in an effort achieve a price both parties are happy with.


There are a number of key advantages of buying at an auction which include:


  • The price is benchmarked with other buyers in public
  • You get an immediate result as there is no cooling off period
  • The highest bidder is the buyer, subject to any reserve price
Different ways to buy a home - buying at auction
Different ways to buy a home - buying by private treaty or private sale



This is the most common way of buying a home in Australia.


The home is for sale with a set price; however, the final selling price is normally different to the asking price.  After a period of negotiation where offers pass back and forth between the seller and the buyer, they will come to a mutually agreeable price and the property will be sold.


What are the advantages of buying a property by private treaty?


  • Greater flexibility for negotiation.  A contract can be signed subject to certain conditions being met, such as a building inspection, finance approval, repairs to the property etc
  • You may have more time to make a decision, therefore there is less emotion than an auction
  • There is more certainty regarding the price than at auction
  • You do not have to pay for any report until you have signed an agreement to buy the property
  • In most cases, you have a cooling-off period in case your circumstances change




In an expression of interest or tender sales campaign, buyers are invited to submit their best and final offer to purchase a property by a specific closing date and time.


Following this, the seller, normally in consultation with their agent, will review the offers. If an acceptable offer is not received, the property may be sold via another method or an Expression of Interest may be called again.


This method of sale is most suitable for very expensive or unique properties.


What are the advantages of buying a property by Tender / Expression of Interest?


  • The closing date creates a sense of urgency
  • Buyers can discreetly submit offers
  • The private nature of the sale process allows the selling price to be kept discreet
  • Indicates the true value of the property through competitive nature of the offers
Different ways to buy a home - buying by tender or expression of interest



The property settlement process - the contract of sale

Step 1   | Contract of Sale

Buying a property is a legal transaction and, therefore, a Contract of Sale is required to protect both the buyer and the seller. This document contains all the relevant information related to the sale of the property, including names and addresses of the buyer and the seller, conditions of the sale and any inclusions.


Once the contract is signed by both the buyer and seller and exchanged between each party, subject to any cooling off period and any conditions, they are legally bound to comply and complete the contract.

STEP 2  |  Preparing for settlement

The time between signing the Contract of Sale and settlement day varies. However, the average time is normally six weeks, which allows time for buyers to get their finances sorted and/or the seller to fulfil any special conditions that were outlined in the Contract of Sale.
The property settlement process - preparing for settlement
The property settlement process - pre-settlement inspection

STEP 3  |  Pre-settlement inspection

As settlement day approaches, the new buyer will have the opportunity to inspect the property to check nothing untoward has happened since they signed the contract. It also enables the buyer to check all outstanding jobs stipulated in the contract have been completed.

STEP 4  |  finalise the transfer documentation

On settlement day, the respective settlement teams will ensure all conditions of the contract have been fulfilled. The buyer’s lender will authorise to pay the balance of the purchase amount and the Sales Agent will transfer the deposit that has been held in trust.


The seller’s legal team will make sure that all necessary property taxes, land transfer duty and water rates are paid. Once everything is settled, the transfer documents will be completed and lodged with the land registration office in the relevant state or territory. Assuming all goes to plan, the new buyer assumes legal ownership of the property and the keys can be handed over.

The property settlement process - finalise the transfer documents



The key costs of buying a home - stamp duty

stamp duty

This is a compulsory tax that you pay to your local state or territory government and is the biggest add on expense for home buyers.  The percentage rate of stamp duty you will have to pay varies across each state and territory.  Check on your relevant government website.

Legal and conveyancing fees

Buying a property is a legal process, so ensuring you have experts helping you navigate the transaction is important.  They will review the contract, negotiate changes and arrange the legal transfer of ownership.
Key costs of buying a home - legal and conveyancing fees
Costs of buying a home - pre purchase inspections

pre-purchase inspections 

It is highly recommended you get both building and pest inspections on the property before you sign the contract.  Ensuring you are aware of any structural issues or infestations is important.  If you are buying an apartment, you should also get a strata report.

moving costs

Unless you have a few friends who are willing to lend a hand on moving day, you will need to factor in the costs for professional removalists to help you.  You can hire a truck and removalists, or you can go the full-service option and get them to help you pack and unpack too.

For more detailed information, read our Complete Costs of Buying a Property article.
Costs of buying a home - moving costs




The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) scheme is a national initiative to help first time home buyers offset the effect of the GST when buying or building a home. 


It is a one-off payment for eligible first home buyers who purchase or build a residential property to live in.


Whilst it is a national scheme, it is funded locally by the state and territory governments and therefore, the conditions vary across the country.  However, in most cases you may be eligible if you are:


  • A permanent resident or citizen of Australia
  • Have never owned a property before
  • Have never received the grant before
  • Are buying a new or established home as an individual
  • You will live in the property as your primary place of residence
  • You apply for the grant within 12 months of purchasing your first property


To find out the specific details of your state or territory’s FHOG visit their website.

What are first home owner grants?




Why buy a home with McGrath

When you buy a home, you are buying much more than four walls and a roof over your head. You are buying a lifestyle.


At McGrath, we are experts at helping people find their perfect match. Plus, our Knowledge Centre is filled with practical insights, strategies and handy downloads to help you find and buy your home sooner.


With thousands of properties for sale, we have a home for every lifestyle.

Section 4

What's next?

  • 01
    Download our Buying a Home Guide
    Filled with in-depth insights from our sales team into researching, finding and successfully negotiating or bidding on a property. This guide is your ultimate tool to successfully buying a property.
  • 02
    selling before you buy
    If you already own a property and are looking at upsizing, downsizing or something in between, you undoubtedly need to know how much your current property is worth. Knowing this important information helps you work out how much you can afford to spend on your next property.
  • 03
    Start searching for a property
    With thousands of properties for sale, we have a home for every lifestyle.
  • 04
    Download our Open for Inspection Checklists
    As you walk through the property, simply check off the different features to get a complete picture as to whether this property is right for you. This is the ideal resource to help you thoroughly assess each property. Do not go to a home inspection without it.
  • 01
    Key steps to buying
  • 02
    The buying process
  • 03
    Finding and applying
  • 04
    What's next?