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Buying and Selling Land: When do I get my deposit back?

In the world of conveyancing do buyers ever get their deposit back?

In the world of conveyancing, this is one of the most commonly asked questions. Whilst deposits are generally understood. There are nuances which are sometimes not well understood.

Deposits generally represent a commitment from a buyer to a purchase of land. Under Property Law, in the event that a real estate buyer refuses to settle, the legal contract terms generally provide that the seller gets to keep the deposit.

As a seller, you should negotiate a deposit amount which would make a buyer think twice if they changed their mind and decided not to settle (provided it is not more than 10% of the purchase price).

But sometimes buyers do get their deposit back. Under Property Law, if your contract is subject to finance or subject to a satisfactory building and pest inspection, then real estate buyers generally are entitled to the return of their deposit (if they terminate the contract validly under these conditions). Similarly, if a buyer terminates under a statutory right (even if the contract is unconditional), then buyers are generally entitled to get their deposit back.

Whilst 99% of conveyancing transactions go through without a hitch, you need safe hands and experience on your side when it does go wrong. The Butler McDermott law firm’s property conveyancing solicitors in Sunshine Coast can assist with all your conveyancing legal needs. Give our property conveyancing lawyers in Nambour a call today.

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Simone Faunt


Peter Boyce


Peter has been practising as a Nambour Solicitor since 1977 and joined Butler McDermott Lawyers the same year.

With over 40 years practicing as a Sunshine Coast lawyer, Peter has extensive knowledge of various facets of law.

He has practised in all areas of litigation and has special interests in:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil and Commercial litigation
  • Retirement Village matters
  • Sports law
  • Resumption of land and compensation claims


Peter has specialised knowledge of and experience with resumption matters as a result of the Traveston Dam project, road corridors, Main Roads and water pipeline. He is renowned for his professional approach and is an experienced and determined advocate.

Brent King


Brent works as a litigation lawyer, providing litigation legal advice in relation to both civil and criminal law matters, including:
  • Defamation Claims
  • Contract and Debt Disputes
  • Building and Construction Disputes
  • Planning Matters
  • Criminal Law and Traffic Legal Matters
Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast and joining Butler McDermott after the completion of his studies, Brent appreciates the needs of our clients, and brings a particularly commercial approach to litigation. Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society and the Sunshine Coast Law Association, and has litigated a wide variety of matters in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts.

Al Upton


After arriving at Butler McDermott Lawyers in 2016, Al quickly progressed to running our Wills and Estates section and has successfully litigated disputes in the Supreme and District Courts of Queensland in the early stages of his career.

In the years that followed Al has now moved to assist our clients with commercial and property matters having achieved positive outcomes in that area as well as general litigation. Al’s experience has him uniquely placed to provide quality advice in the areas of property, commercial, wills and estates and general litigation.

Al is involved in giving back to the community, sitting on the board for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Sundale Community Foundation. He otherwise became a director of Butler McDermott Lawyers in November 2021.