You have every right to get excited when you get an offer when you are selling your house and it exceeds your expectations. Perhaps, in the heat of the moment, you forget that saying “yes” is only the start of the process. That process involves an exchange of letters between solicitors which create the contract of sale and purchase. Lawyers call these letters missives. When agreement has been reached between the solicitors on the terms of the contract, they consider that missives are concluded. But does that mean you have sold your house?
Is the buyer still able to withdraw from the purchase after missives are concluded?
Whether the buyer can withdraw will very much depend on what the missives contain. If buyers withdraw without entitlement, you can claim compensation from them. However, it is not always as clear cut.
The reason for this is that, sometimes, missives are concluded containing conditions favourable to the buyer. That means the buyer may be able to withdraw from the contract without penalty. For instance, there may be a condition in the missives making the purchase subject to the buyer receiving a satisfactory mortgage offer. This means if the buyer does not get a mortgage offer, they can withdraw from the purchase without penalty.
Conditions such as this are called “suspensive conditions”. They usually start off by saying “this offer is subject to……” That means the condition needs to be fulfilled if you want to hold the buyer to the bargain.
When there is a seller’s market, it would be unusual for a seller to accept suspensive conditions. But that is not always the case.
Why would a seller accept an offer with suspensive conditions?
Let’s take the example above of the offer being subject to the buyer receiving a suitable mortgage offer. The buyer might have submitted the mortgage application and provided all the necessary supporting information. The lender may have issued an acceptance in principle but is awaiting further information. Such information might be confirmation of the buyer’s income, affordability scoring, valuation details and the like. If the seller is made aware of the progress in this area (and if there is no other offer on the table!) a suspensive condition such as this may be attractive to the seller. Of course, the buyer can still withdraw from the purchase, without penalty, if they do not receive a satisfactory mortgage offer.
We are also more likely to see suspensive conditions being accepted in a slow market.
We should also point out that the seller may also insert suspensive conditions into the missives. when that happens, it is for the buyer to consider whether these are acceptable.
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Our solicitors have years of experience in dealing with residential conveyancing. We help our clients when buying a house or selling a house. We are well placed to advise you on every aspect of the conveyancing process before or after missives are concluded.
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