Should I Buy a Property? – “What if I Change my Mind Mid Transaction?” – Part 5

By Kirstie Philpott

Senior Associate

The big question on everyone’s lips at the moment, whether they are looking to invest in the property market or find their new home… Should I buy a property?

With a market that has seen so many ups and downs over the last 3-4 years, it is understandable that buyers are becoming more cautious when considering their next step (or maybe even their first step) on the property ladder.

Kirstie Philpott’s series of residential property blogs “Should I buy a property?” answers your questions about buying property in today’s market, including where to get started, what considerations you should make before offer and how to assess your financial position. The series looks at all property types including houses, flats and new builds.

Change in Circumstances or Changes in the Transaction

From the time of offer, property sales and purchases can take a number of months to get to the point of an exchange and completion, where keys are handed over. During that time, you may experience changes in your personal life, whether it’s a change in your family life or a change to your employment status. Maybe you have a new baby on the way, or your employer has announced they are making redundancies meaning you need to put your move on hold or adjust your budget. Perhaps your changes are positive, you might have inherited a large sum of money or been given a promotion at work and so your budget has increased!

Perhaps the change isn’t something personal to you but instead related to the transaction itself, you could lose your buyer on a related sale or someone else in the chain could lose their buyer on their sale, which would have a knock on effect for the rest of the chain. Your solicitor or surveyor may have pointed out a major issue with the property which has impacted your intended use or enjoyment of the property or impacted your lender’s ability to loan against this particular property.

There are many reasons why people withdraw from selling or buying a property, it could even be just a bad feeling about the wrong place and time. Whatever the reason is, you are not committed to a sale or purchase until contracts have been exchanged.

Exchange of Contracts

Exchange of contracts is the point of no return, once contracts have been exchanged, the completion date is fixed and both parties are bound under contract to complete on their sale/purchase. You are within your right to change your mind for any reason and withdraw from the transaction as long as you haven’t exchanged contracts.

Withdrawing Costs

You should bear in mind the costs you will still have to pay if you do withdraw from a sale/purchase.

If you are purchasing and the transaction is quite far along, you will still need to pay your surveyor and solicitor costs.

If you are buying a new build property you may have paid a reservation fee at the time of offer and you should speak to the developer’s site office about a refund of this, in most circumstances they will refund this fee although may deduct reasonable costs. You should check the terms of any reservation agreement you signed when your offer was accepted to confirm if you will received a refund of the fee.

If you are selling, you will need to cover solicitor costs. Your estate agent shouldn’t charge you a fee until a sale has reached a successful completion, so they should speak to you about whether you want to place the property back on the market or withdraw completely.

If you require any further information, please contact our Residential Property Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be happy to assist you.