What does it mean to have ‘concluded missives’ in the sale of your house?

Selling your home isn’t just about shaking hands on an offer. It’s a dance, a negotiation process that can feel a bit like passing notes in high school. In Scotland, we call these notes ‘missives.’ As these letters go back and forth between your lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer, we’re drawing up the terms of contract for your house sale. And here’s the thing: even though you’ve agreed on the offer, the buyer can still back out at this stage. It’s only when the ‘Missives’ are ‘Concluded’ that things really become set in stone.

From exchange of letters to concluded missives: the point of no return?

So, you might be asking, when we reach the stage of ‘concluded missives,’ does that mean I’ve sold my house? Well, in most cases, yes! The buyer can’t just back out without a hefty bill. It’s usually at this point that most sellers would say, “Sold!” But there’s a bit more to it.

The buyer’s “escape hatch”: suspensive conditions

Sometimes, even after you’ve concluded missives, the buyer has a get-out-of-jail-free card. The contract we’ve been creating might include ‘Suspensive Conditions.’ These conditions act as escape hatches for the buyer if specific events don’t happen. Maybe they can’t sell their own house, or they don’t get the mortgage offer they were hoping for, or you can’t get that necessary planning permission for some modifications you’ve carried out that they’re insisting on. If any of these conditions can’t be met, the buyer can walk away, contract or not.

But don’t worry! Once these conditions have been met, or ‘purified’ in legalese, everything is back on track. And of course, you’re not going to be left in the dark about these conditions. They’ll be clearly stated in the contract.

Why accept suspensive conditions?

Now, you might be wondering, why would I ever agree to these Suspensive Conditions? The truth is these conditions can actually be quite practical. It’s a balancing act between wrapping up your missives and handling potential hiccups. Maybe the buyer wants to secure a mortgage offer before diving in headfirst – fair play to them! In this case, they might delay concluding missives or add a suspensive condition stating they need that satisfactory mortgage offer.

Of course, you can add your own suspensive conditions. You might decide to make the sale of your house conditional on you finding a new house to move to. And if you don’t find one, you could pull out of the deal!

You’re not alone: your solicitors role

Remember, you’re not alone in this dance. We are there to guide you every step of the way. Whether you’re buying or selling, or just have questions, feel free to get in touch with us.

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