Q. I fell in love with a property to buy a couple of months back, made an offer and was just to the point of it being accepted when the seller decided to change his mind at the last minute. I felt so frustrated as it was just what I was looking for and both the agent and myself had invested so much time in making this happen only for it to all be lost. However, given how much I love the property I recently decided to increase my offer substantially to see if that would change his mind and it has, to my delight he has accepted. The issue I have now though is how can I trust this seller, especially if I am now going to make a financial commitment by getting a survey carried out and instruct a solicitor. Any idea what I can to do prevent this happening all over again?
A. I can only imagine your frustration, you find the perfect property, think you have secured it and then overnight all your hopes and dreams are dashed. Your story however is not an isolated incident. Sadly, the UK property laws do nothing to protect buyers or sellers for that matter from this type of outrageous behaviour from happening. The bottom line is you can not rest easy until you have exchanged contracts on the property as its only at this point that the contract then becomes legally binding. My best advise would be to find yourself a super duper no nonsense solicitor that you can explain the situation to and who would be willing to execute a 48-hour exchange of contracts. Any good solicitor would be willing to do this and make it a ‘conditional’ exchange subject to certain things being confirmed and being in order. That way you can at least relax even though it will obviously be a delayed completion whilst the ‘T’s are being crossed and the ‘I’s are dotted to ensure everything is in order and as it should be. If your seller is serious now he should have no objection to this request as it will also show commitment from you as a buyer. Speak to your estate agent if you don’t know of a solicitor that would be able to action such a quick exchange, remember they work alongside conveyancing solicitors on a day to day basis and are bound to be able to recommend someone that would be good to exercise such a swift exchange of contracts to secure the property for you, after all it is to their benefit also to get the deal closed for their client too, especially if they have been working to put this together for a while.