Why are some properties sold but still online?

Q: Why are some properties already sold when they are advertised online as being For Sale?

A: It is likely that these properties are under contract, but there are certain conditions that need to be met before the property is actually “sold”. These include achieving a satisfactory Building and Pest Inspection, and achieving the Finance condition through the bank agreeing to lend money for purchase of the property. Until these are met, the property could come back on the market and because the vendor has paid dollars to have their property listed online, the agent cannot stop the marketing campaign until there is certainty the property has sold.

During this time, agents will often take a back-up contract just in case the first contract does fall over. This helps provide reassurance to the vendor. That’s why we keep running open homes even though a contract may have been signed.

Recently, a buyer of mine could not raise finance, and so the backup contract won the property. So don’t dismiss properties just because they are “under contract”. Check with the agent to determine if they are actually “unconditional”, meaning the house is sold and just awaiting settlement.


Serious buyers will often introduce themselves to local agents and perhaps use one agent who is willing to act as their “buyers’ agent”. This agent will find the buyer homes for sale in the area.

Many buyers prefer to rely on researching themselves online. These buyers may miss out on new properties coming onto the market, because agents first contact their own database to let their buyers know about new listings before they are formally listed online. This adds value to the relationship between buyer and agent. Sellers benefit from this approach too, because agent databases include people cashed up and ready to purchase. They will then potentially make an offer on a home the agent shows them in advance, before the rest of the market gets a look in.

Another reason why a property is still listed but sold is that the agent has not bothered to take the property down, possibly because it is delivering a source of buyers for the agent. This, of course, is what annoys people.

In order to avoid being disappointed seeing properties under contract or sold when researching online, my advice would be to find a local agent in the area you are looking in and get them to refer properties to you. If they do a good job at that and find you the house you like please go back through that agent, so they can earn a share of the commission for their trouble (most agents only get paid on a commission basis).