How it's paid
As the seller, how the deposit gets paid is your call – be it by cheque, bank transfer or another method. Some buyers might float paying part of the deposit on the day and the rest at a later date. Being flexible helps, but contracts of sale usually require the entire deposit be paid on the day. It's all about balancing your needs with the buyer's.
How much it is
The deposit is usually 10% of the total sale price. But if you're after something a little bigger, make sure your agent clearly states this in the auction preamble. Just be aware that a bigger deposit could put off a lot of potential buyers.
Where it goes
The paid deposit goes into a special trust account held by your agent, lawyer or conveyancer. Once settlement date arrives and the buyer pays for the property in full, the whole amount – deposit included – will first go to the bank (to pay off any loans held against the recently sold property). Then, it’ll move into your pocket. Learn how to get prepared for settlement.
Where to park it – offset account
You could consider parking the deposit in an offset account. It's a transaction account linked to your home loan that trims the interest charge on your home loan by using the balance of the transaction account. This allows you to pay less interest over the life of your loan. Get around the ins-and-outs of offset accounts and see if it’s available as part of your current home loan.
Accessing the deposit before settlement
By default, the deposit isn't technically yours before settlement and can’t be released any earlier than 28 days after the contract’s been signed – but you may be able to get it earlier via a Section 27 early release.
On top of the contract becoming unconditional, a Section 27 needs to be agreed to by the buyer. In considering your application, they’ll weigh up things like your current mortgage and any other loans attached to the property.
Buyers often agree to a Section 27 out of goodwill, but it’s not a done deal, so try not to make plans that may rely on it.