You’ve found the house of your dreams, submitted an offer and your lawyer has told you your offer has been accepted. However, something comes up in your private life preventing you from going ahead. You then need to know if you can pull out of buying a house if your offer has been accepted.
To answer your question, we need to look at the stage the conveyancing process has reached. It is particularly important to consider the stage the missives have reached.
When you put in an offer to buy a house, you normally receive a phone call from the selling agent to let you know if it’s successful. Whilst this gives you an indication of acceptance, there is still a lot of work to do to complete the contract. You should be aware that, in Scotland, a contract to buy a house has to be in writing. That contract also has to be agreed between the seller and the buyer.
The phone call from the selling agent indicating acceptance is merely the start of the process of buying a house.
The process of buying a house
Submitting an offer and being told it’s accepted is just the first stage in buying a house. There is a lot more to be done once you find out the seller is prepared to accept your offer. Generally, that means the seller is happy with the price, the date of entry and any extras included in the sale.
However, the offer contains many conditions the seller needs to consider. The seller’s solicitor will guide him or her through these conditions and recommends which of these are acceptable. Then an written acceptance is sent to the buyer’s solicitor indicating which conditions are acceptable and which are not.
The buyer’s solicitor then goes through the terms of the acceptance – which is called a “qualified acceptance” – with the buyer. If the terms of that acceptance are acceptable, the buyer’s solicitor can send a final letter concluding the “bargain”.
At this point, a binding contract to buy and sell the house exists.
Up until that point, the buyer can pull out of buying a house and the seller can also pull out of selling a house.
This process is called the “missives” process and you will frequently hear solicitors talking about concluding missives. That is generally the point where the contract has been agreed and becomes binding.
How quickly are missives usually concluded?
Missives can take take quite a long time to conclude. The buyer might have a house to sell. The buyer will probably not want to conclude missives until they are sure their own house is sold. Similarly, if the buyer is taking out a mortgage, they might not with to conclude missives until they receive an offer of loan. This is not normally issued until very close to the date of entry. Throughout all this period of time, the buyer can pull out of buying a house. The seller can also pull out of the sale during this period.
Can I still pull out of buying a house if missives are concluded?
Whether you can pull out at this point depends on the terms of the missives. There may be conditions that need to be satisfied by the seller before you pay the price. If the seller fails to satisfy those conditions, the buyer can pull out of buying a house. These types of conditions are called “suspensive” conditions. They still need to be satisfied even after missives have been concluded.
So, even though you’ve been told your offer has been accepted, there are still opportunities to pull out of buying a house. As we have explained, it is also possible to do this even after missives have been concluded.
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