Question: Our seller has asked us to exchange contracts and complete on the same day but our solicitors say we cannot. Why is that? I am sure that we have friends who have done it. Is it because we have a mortgage?
© Merrily Harpur
Answer: Irrespective of whether you have a mortgage, if you and your seller wish to exchange contracts and complete simultaneously then I can see no reason why you should not.
Agree with your seller the date upon which you wish to simultaneously exchange, complete the purchase, and inform your solicitors accordingly.
Your solicitors probably like to set up everything for completion once contracts have been exchanged because there is certainty as the contract is then binding.
However, for a simultaneous exchange and completion, your solicitors will need to get everything ready for completion just as if contracts had already been exchanged — provided you understand that if there is no prior exchange of contracts then there is no binding agreement between you and the seller, and so no certainty for you that the seller will exchange and complete the sale to you on the agreed date.
If for some reason the seller does not sell to you, then you are likely to incur wasted costs such as removal fees. Also your solicitors will need to obtain the mortgage funds from your lender in readiness for completion and if these have to be returned to your lender, then you will be responsible for the interest from the date of release.
If you had a related sale it would be more difficult to line up a simultaneous completion on your purchase, as you would have no certainty that your buyer would proceed with the purchase of your house unless you exchanged contracts with them. And you could risk selling your home but ending up with no property to buy if your seller pulled out.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (www.thrings.com).
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.