I'd hate to lose it now

Our lawyer Fiona McNulty looks at the issue of nervous selling agents pushing for a speedy exchange
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Nervous selling agents cartoon
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
Question: We are trying to purchase the most expensive property we have ever bought. I have received bonuses over the past couple of years, so we may buy the house with a relatively small mortgage.

When our offer was accepted, the selling agents, which is a small independent firm, gave us 10 working days to exchange contracts. Since then it has been telephoning us several times a day, saying that if we do not exchange contracts quickly, the seller will withdraw the contract. My solicitor has not yet received all the contract papers, even though the offer was accepted a couple of weeks ago. We do not want to lose the property but are worried. What should we do?

Answer: Because of the current state of the economy, many people involved in the property world are nervous. The selling agents want a speedy exchange of contracts so the seller is happy and they will be entitled to their commission. The 10-day time limit will only start running once your solicitor receives the complete contract package from the seller's solicitors.

If the Home Information Pack contains an acceptable local search, your solicitor will not have to carry one out and this will save time. As you are getting a mortgage, your solicitor will have to ensure compliance with the strict requirements of the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook.

No matter how much you would like to exchange contracts, to ensure you do not lose the property, your solicitor must be satisfied with the title. This may take more than 10 days, but all outstanding issues must be dealt with satisfactorily first. Communication between solicitors will be important but remember that although the seller can withdraw from the transaction at any time before exchange - so can you, without penalty.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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