Q. I’m buying a property that I have had my eye on for a while and to be perfectly honest the seller has messed me around previously. My agent had agreed a sale a couple of months ago when the seller suddenly changed his mind. Recently however after looking at multiple other opportunities I was drawn back to this particular property so decided to go all out and offer him substantially more money. To my surprise he has accepted my offer, the only issue I have now is I feel extremely nervous that he is going to change his mind again before I get to exchange of contracts. I am a cash buyer so should be relatively easy but wondering if there is anything I can do to speed up the process and exchange asap to prevent this happening again?
A. Once a seller has already proved to be unreliable it can easily set the tone going forward. Of course, you are right to proceed with caution because as you know until exchange the purchase is not legally binding and he is free to change his mind until that point. Having a switched-on solicitor is your number one priority, don’t cut corners here, let them know you need to exchange asap and they will work with you to do so, some solicitors can action this within 48 hours of receipt of papers if you are willing to forego some usual checkpoints, please ensure that you always adhere to their advice though. The fact that you are a cash buyer is extremely helpful as you don’t need funding from a bank or building society which also means if you are happy with the property and it is relatively newish you could even skip having a survey done as this is only a requirement of lenders. However, if you do decide to do this please ensure you carefully consider the ramifications. And if you are buying a period property then I would not recommend this time saving option as older properties can sometimes be hiding a multitude of defects. The local authority searches also can cause a long delay some authorities can take up to six weeks to provide these but if you are very familiar with the area you are buying in you may be willing to save the time and skip this step, your solicitor can take out some indemnity insurance for you in relation to this which will give you protection should the need arise later. Your solicitor should be able to deal with many of the enquiries that do need to be addressed between exchange and completion, so exchange subject to these additions is the best route which is ideal as by this point you will know its legally binding and there would be no going back.