Each year, the ACT Government releases an Indicative Land Release Program (ILRP), outlining the government’s land sales for the coming four years. And that’s where you come in!

The 5 steps to buying land

The following steps detail how you can purchase land through the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) and join thriving communities across ACT.

Step 1: Learn about the buying process

Our buyer's guide takes you through the buying process, from choosing a location and making an offer right through to designing your home.

Step 2: Discover and choose blocks for sale

Now you’ve got an idea of the buying process, it’s time to get to know our communities.

When choosing a block for sale, keep your eyes out for 5 important documents:

  • Development-specific requirements outlines what you can build on the land and if there are any restrictions.
  • The estate plan outlines the roads, open spaces and infrastructure (shops, schools etc.) for the planned estate.
  • Block fill plans show any areas which have been cut or filled to create a level area to build on.
  • Block details plan gives details about the development site and includes the position, size, slope and boundaries of your block. It can also include access roads, drainage runs, and special features such as trees.
  • The block details table compares features of different blocks in the neighbourhood using this table.

Step 3: There are 4 ways to buy a block

Over-the-counter (OTC)

The SLA sells blocks of land over the counter either through our internal agents or our exclusive selling agents. These blocks may be ready for sale as land-ready. That means you can settle and build straight away. Or they may be land-not-ready, meaning you have some time before you settle. You can find blocks for sale over the counter on our website’s interactive map or block list

Unlike a ballot or auction, you do not need to register to buy over-the-counter. You can just contact the relevant sales agent for the advertised block. Then, make an appointment to buy the block you want. Anyone eligible to buy property in Australia can buy a block available for sale over the counter.

Before you make an appointment, we recommend reading the relevant sales document about the block. These documents include the Housing Development Guide (which contains the block plans), the Specimen Contract and the Specimen Crown Lease. Read the Jacka documents here and the Whitlam documents here. If you need help, contact our Sales team at 1800 777 952. You can also visit the SLA’s Display Village in Whitlam or make an enquiry here

Learn more about over-the-counter land sales

From time to time, depending on demand, SLA may opt to sell blocks over the counter. These may be unsold blocks from a ballot or auction, or blocks returned to ACT Government. 

Buying property is a significant decision. To ensure you are ready before committing to a purchase, it is advisable to seek advice from a builder, a lender, and a solicitor.

To assist in your decision-making process, please review the sales documents, including the Sales Conditions, First Grant Contract, Specimen Crown Lease, Block List and Housing Development Guide.

Once you are ready to commit, you can schedule a block purchasing appointment with the SLA Sales team by:

  • Submitting an enquiry through the website here,
  • Sending an email to [email protected], or
  • Call 1800 777 952 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

During the block purchasing appointment, you will be required to pay the full 5% deposit and complete a Holding Notice Form, which reserves your chosen block for up to14 calendar days (Holding Notice Period). Please note, SLA cannot ‘hold’ a block without a purchasing appointment or for less than the required 5% deposit.

If you cannot attend your appointment, you can appoint a representative to attend on your behalf. You will just need to complete a Buyer Appointment of Agent form available here and ensure your appointed Agent has certified copies of your ID. Phone appointments may be available upon request.

Exchange of contracts must take place within the Holding Notice Period. If the contracts are not exchanged before the Holding Notice Period expires, SLA may choose to cancel your purchase and make the block available for other purchasers. Please speak with the SLA Sales team if you think you will need a longer Holding Notice Period.

If you cannot proceed to exchange, for whatever reason, SLA will refund you the deposit. However, please note that once the contracts are exchanged, legal conditions will apply. Please refer to the specimen contract for details.

Anyone who is eligible to purchase property in Australia can buy a block. This can be if you are either:

  1. an individual aged 18 years or older.
  2. a registered company.
  3. or a combination of (1) and (2).

If you are not a permanent resident of Australia, it is highly recommended that you speak with either the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or an immigration lawyer before you purchase a block.

Yes, builders can purchase blocks available for sale over the counter, however, please note that blocks are not eligible for Put and Call arrangements.

SLA cannot make any recommendations; however, buyers may wish to seek advice from industry bodies for their recommendations or visit Display Homes to find suitable builders. Additionally, there are resources available to find law firms experienced in property conveyancing.

Master Builders Association and Housing Industry of Australia have a list of builder members while Access Canberra also maintains a public register of tradespersons who work in the ACT, including those with a public warning, enforceable undertaking or have disciplinary action against them.  You may also wish to visit display homes, such as those built by SLA’s partner builders at our display village in Whitlam, to find a builder who can build your home.

Please note the ACT introduced a new Planning Act in November 2023. Whoever you choose to build your home, you should ensure they are aware of these changes. For more information about these changes visit the planning website here.

The ACT Law Society and Law Council of Australia also have a list of law firms who can assist you with buying property. Ensure that whoever you choose to be your conveyancer/solicitor understands the process of buying crown land, as this can be different to buying other types of property.

Family and friends could also recommend you a list of builders and solicitors they have used in the past.

Property will be the biggest purchase you make so SLA recommends doing your due diligence and seeking professional advice.

You can find information on what to bring to your appointment on the Purchasing Appointment Checklist available here


Ballots help to provide an equal opportunity to purchase land. Block prices are set at the market value, based on at least two independent valuations. This allows you to purchase the block without the risk of a higher bidder purchasing the block.

Ballot are split into 3 stages:

  • register
  • draw
  • purchase.
Stage 1: Register

Once a block is announced and a ballot is made available, potential buyers register their details online during the registration period.

Stage 2: Draw

The potential buyer is given a Unique ID number, which is entered into an electronic ballot draw system. After the cut-off date, ID numbers are randomly drawn, and the order of drawn ballot numbers determines the appointment time/date for the block selection.

The ballot draw is witnessed and signed off by ACT Gambling and Racing Commission officials from Access Canberra. Once the draw is finalised, the Ballot results are uploaded onto the SLA website and registrants are contacted.

This ballot process is different that the process for releases under the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme.

Stage 3: Purchase

Eligible registrants who choose to continue in the ballot will receive an allocated appointment. To secure a block, the successful registrant/s must pay the minimum deposit and sign a First Grant Contract at their block selection appointment. A sample copy of the contract terms will be available online during the ballot registration period.

If a Standard lease is selected, the buyer must pay the deposit advised on the sales conditions at their block selection appointment.

Payments are preferably made using online, contactless methods. Once paid, the buyer will be given a receipt.


We conduct auctions for a range of land releases, including both residential and commercial blocks, and these can either be face-to-face or online. We provide all relevant information about each auction release to ensure that buyers are well-informed about the block they’re bidding on. Overall, auctions provide an exciting and accessible way for people to purchase land through us.

At an auction, a block will be sold to the highest bidder above the undisclosed reserve price. If the highest bid is below the reserve price, a period of time will be granted for the registrant with the highest bid to exclusively negotiate with the ACT Government.

Details of how to register for an auction are available as part of the sales documentation for each auction. It’s important that you register if you want your bid to be successful.

The differences between face-to-face and online auctions are as follows:

  • During a face-to-face action, a bidder’s number will be provided which is held up to indicate to the auctioneer that the bidder wishes to place a bid.
  • During an online auction, the platform will assign a bidder number and bids submitted digitally. The auctioneer accepts or rejects bids as required until bids reach the reserve price or above.

The successful bidder must sign a contract and pay a deposit at the time of their successful bid. Contracts will need to be settled by paying the outstanding amount on the sales price on or before the completion date as stated in the contract.

You should be aware that Land Rent is not available on blocks sold at auction.

House and Land Packages

By choosing this option, you can buy land with a builder who already understands your block requirements and is ready to start building. The builder may also share potential designs for your house, to make it easier for you to visualise what your new home might look like.

Our partner builders can offer you expertise on house designs that make the most of your block’s features. They have chosen blocks suited to the unique type of home they build, potentially saving you time in the design process.

Once you have found the package to suit your needs, you exchange contracts with the Suburban Land Agency and simultaneously enter into a contract with the builder.

Suburban Land Agency’s partner builders have met our strict criteria for delivering house and land packages, including a past track record check. However, we encourage you to undertake due diligence and your own further research.

Find new releases and learn more about House and Land packages.

Step 4: Settle the sale

Talk to the right people

When it comes time to settle your purchase, you’ll receive a letter from our solicitor outlining what steps you can take next to confirm the sale.

There are 3 people to call at this stage:

  • Your solicitor can advise you on next steps and help you assess and sign any contracts. If you haven’t got a solicitor, you can find one through the ACT Law Society.
  • Your bank can confirm that your loan is approved and ready to go.
  • A builder. If you haven’t got a builder yet, you can head to the ACT Master Builders Association website to find one and the Housing Industry Association website for helpful information on building.

When is my block ready to build on?

Settlement of the contract depends on when the block is ready to build on. The ACT Government may release land that isn’t ready to build on when the First Grant Contract is signed by the purchaser.

The front page of the First Grant Contract will outline an estimated date range for the completion of civil works. This means it is estimated that the civil construction of the estate will be complete, and all the appropriate certifications and approvals issued, within this period. This is known as Operational Acceptance, or when the estate is ‘Land Ready’.


More important questions on your settlement

Settlement is where the parties, or their legal representatives, meet to complete the contract. At settlement, you must pay the balance of the price to us.

The date for settlement will be determined upon the Crown lease for your block being served on you in accordance with the contract.

If you are obtaining finance, it is important that upon receiving the Crown lease, you arrange for all outstanding matters for your finance approval to be completed.

Our solicitor will provide a settlement statement, which sets out any adjustments to be made between the parties, the balance due on settlement and the bank cheques to be handed to our solicitor at settlement.

Upon the bank cheques being provided to our solicitor, you, or your legal representative, will receive the original signed Crown lease for the block you are purchasing.

If you are not able to settle, we recommend you speak with your legal representative as soon as possible and to obtain advice regarding your rights, potential liability, and options.

If you are not able to settle due to matters outside of your control, you may be eligible for an extension to settlement. The request should be made in writing to our solicitor with supporting evidence. Please note, a request for extension may result in additional costs being payable.

If you do not settle or complete the contract, you may be liable to pay liquidation damages and compensation to us pursuant to the contract.

Please note, fencing may remain erected along the boundary of the block until settlement occurs. If the block is fenced and your bank requires access for the purpose of carrying out a valuation of the property, please email [email protected] with your block and section number. We will arrange for access to be provided.

If the block is not fenced, your bank may carry out a valuation of the block without further notice to use being required.      

The street address for the block is determined by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate once the estate is complete and approved by the ACT Legislative Assembly pursuant to the Public Place Names Act 1989 (ACT). For more information, visit  planning.act.gov.au.

Once the street address for the block is approved, the street address for the block can be found using ACTMAPi at actmapi.act.gov.au 

If you are eligible for a stamp duty concession or exemption, the concession or exemption code should be submitted with your Buyer Verification Declaration. The Buyer Verification Declaration must be completed prior to settlement and its details recorded on the Land Titles Office application form, which accompanies the Crown lease for registration.

The Buyer Verification Declaration informs the ACT Revenue Office of your application for the concession or exemption.

Further information regarding eligibility and the concession or exemption code can be found at revenue.act.gov.au under ‘Home Buyer Assistance’.

Step 5: Start building

The final step is getting permission from the authorities that oversee building and development in the area. This means submitting plans for the building and getting approval before starting construction.

For more information on this and more, check out the Buyer’s Guide in step 1.

Get support

The Sales team at SLA is available to answer any questions that potential buyers may have about the land purchasing process, including information about land releases, sales methods, and settlement procedures.

For more information regarding the sales process please contact the Sales Team on 1800 777 952 or  [email protected]