Cooling-Off Period for Residential Property Contracts: A Comprehensive Guide for Buyers

Dec 12, 2023

Protect Yourself and Make Informed Decisions

Buying a home is a huge decision, and it's understandable to feel a little overwhelmed with the process. That's where the cooling-off period comes in - a safety net designed to protect buyers from hasty decisions and give them the breathing room they need to ensure they're making the right choice.

Understanding the Cooling-Off Period

What is it?

The cooling-off period is a 5-business-day window during which a buyer can rescind a signed residential property contract. It commences on the day the buyer receives a copy of the contract signed by both parties. This provision safeguards buyers from hasty decisions and ensures they have sufficient time to review the contract, conduct due diligence, and confirm their commitment.

Important points to remember:

  • Weekend and public holidays: If the contract arrives on a non-business day, the cooling-off period begins on the next business day.
  • Representative delivery: The period starts even if a representative receives the contract on the buyer's behalf.
  • Dispute resolution: The seller or their agent is responsible for proving the date of contract delivery in case of any disputes.
  • Ending time: The cooling-off period concludes at 5 pm on the 5th business day. After this point, the buyer is obligated to fulfill the contract and purchase the property, subject to its terms.

Exemptions to the Cooling-Off Period

The following situations are exempt from the cooling-off period:

  • Sales by auction: Auctions are fast-paced environments where bids are binding, and there is no cooling-off period.
  • Follow-up sales after unsuccessful auctions: If a registered bidder purchases the property directly from the seller within two business days after an unsuccessful auction, the cooling-off period is waived.
  • Option contracts: These contracts grant the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to purchase the property at a predetermined price within a specific timeframe. The cooling-off period does not apply to such contracts, nor does it apply to contracts formed as a result of exercising an option.
  • Specific buyer categories: The cooling-off period does not apply if the buyer is:
    • A publicly listed corporation or its subsidiary
    • The State or a statutory body
    • Purchasing at least 3 lots simultaneously, regardless of whether they are included in the same contract
A  picture of a house in Queensland illustrating a guide to the cooling-off period for real estate purchases.

Cancelling a Sale Contract during the Cooling-Off Period

To withdraw from a contract during the cooling-off period, the buyer must provide written notice to the seller (or their agent) by 5 pm on the 5th business day. This notification can be delivered via email, fax, or in person.

Consequences of cancellation:

  • Seller penalty: The seller may deduct a penalty of up to 0.25% of the purchase price from the deposit paid by the buyer.
  • Refund of deposit: The remaining portion of the deposit must be refunded to the buyer within 14 days of the cancellation notification.

Waiving or Shortening the Cooling-Off Period:

While the cooling-off period provides valuable time for reflection, some buyers may choose to waive or shorten it. This requires a written document stating the desired alteration:

  • Full waiver: The buyer can waive the entire cooling-off period.
  • Shortened period: The buyer can specify a specific date and time (5 pm) by which the cooling-off period will end.

Deposit Payment and Management:

The buyer must pay the deposit to the seller's agent, who serves as the deposit holder. This amount must be deposited into a trust account and remain inaccessible until:

  • Settlement day: The seller becomes entitled to the deposit upon successful closing of the sale.
  • Lawful cancellation by the buyer: The buyer is entitled to a full refund of the deposit if they rescind the contract during the cooling-off period or under other legal grounds.


The cooling-off period is a crucial safeguard for buyers in Queensland's residential property market. By understanding its duration, exemptions, and cancellation procedures, buyers can make well-informed decisions and protect their interests throughout the transaction process.

Additional Resources:

Remember, the cooling-off period is a valuable tool to ensure you make an informed and confident decision about your property purchase. By understanding your rights and taking the necessary steps, you can enter into this exciting chapter with peace of mind.

Learn more:

Contact Mint Legal Brisbane at [email protected] or call on 0452441583