Can I pull out of buying if my offer has been accepted?

When your solicitor sends in your offer to buy a house, it’s a nerve-racking time, especially if there’s a closing date. You pace the floor and pass the time doing meaningless tasks until the phone rings – and your solicitor confirms your offer has been accepted. Your offer has been successful and you’ve bought your new house. Or have you?

What happens after your offer is accepted?

Whilst your solicitor will confirm your offer has been accepted, this is just the first stage in creating the contract to buy your new house. Whilst the seller’s estate agent will have briefly discussed the offer with the seller, they are likely to have touched only on the price, the date of entry and the extras to be included and whether there are any other suspensive conditions in the offer. We will look at suspensive conditions later.

Your offer is then passed to the seller’s solicitor. The solicitor will discuss the terms of the offer in detail with the seller and then issue their acceptance. This acceptance is likely to be a “qualified” acceptance. That means the seller is prepared to accept your offer but wants to either change or remove some of the conditions it holds. Your solicitor will discuss the qualified acceptance with you and if the changes proposed by the seller’s solicitor are acceptable, your solicitor will issue a final acceptance. This will lead to conclusion of missives. This is the point where a contract between you and the seller to sell and buy the house is in place.

However, if the conditions in the qualified acceptance are not acceptable or only some of them are acceptable, your solicitor will send a further qualified acceptance to the seller’s solicitor indicating which, if any, of the conditions contained in their qualified acceptance are acceptable. This can go back and forward between solicitors for some time until a final acceptance is issued. Again, at that point, missives will be concluded.

This means that any time up until a final acceptance has been issued, you can pull out of buying. However, you also need to be aware, that the seller can also pull out at any time up until missives are concluded. You can also do that without there being any penalty.

Can I pull out of buying the house after missives have been concluded?

There can be certain circumstances that would allow you to pull out of the purchase without penalty even after missives have been concluded.

Earlier we mentioned suspensive conditions. These are conditions that are inserted by a buyer or seller in the missives which make the contract being conditional on something happening. For instance, the Scottish Standard Clauses Offer contains conditions relating to the offer being subject to the buyer receiving a satisfactory valuation or survey report. Or it might be that the offer is contingent on the buyer receiving a satisfactory offer of loan. Alternative, from a seller’s perspective, there might be a condition saying that sale is subject to the seller finding a suitable alternative property. Clearly, the solicitors for each party will want to remove these conditions if possible. In a seller’s market, such as we have had over the last two years, should the seller receive several offers, any offers that do not contain these types of conditions are likely to be given more consideration even if they do not contain the highest price.

If these suspensive conditions cannot be satisfied and if these are imposed by you, as the buyer, you have the right to pull out of buying the house without penalty.

How will I know what I can do?

We will advise you at every stage in the missives process and confirm to you when missives have been concluded. If your circumstances change and you feel you need to pull out of buying the house, we will discuss your options with you at that stage.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a house and you would like to discuss these with us, please get in touch.

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