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What to do when a buyer pulls out of a house sale

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What to do when a buyer pulls out of a house sale
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You think you have sold your property and you are making plans to move into your next house. Then, things go quiet and you get the dreaded call from your agent telling you that your buyer has pulled out.

Unfortunately, this situation is common for house sellers. You cannot always guarantee the success of a house sale – and sometimes, when operating in a chain, it isn’t even your buyer who creates difficulty.

So, what do you do when a buyer pulls out of a sale? Read on to find out.

Can I pull out of a house sale?

You are allowed to pull out of a house sale, as long as you do so before contracts are exchanged.

Before you pull out of a sale, you must notify your conveyancer/solicitor. Once you have done this, the solicitor will inform the other parties involved and provide advice for the successful termination of the transaction.

Pulling out of a house sale in the early stages can be simple, but withdrawing after the exchange of contracts has some consequences. It becomes more and more difficult to withdraw the further the sale has progressed, not to mention costlier.

What happens if a buyer pulls out of a sale?

It is easy to feel downbeat after a buyer pulls out of a property sale. However, if you understand the consequences of this situation, it can help you to prepare properly.

If you have recently accepted the offer – but not exchanged contracts – and the buyer pulls out, you may not be faced with as much of a headache. You can relist your house and look for another buyer.

However, if your buyer pulls out after the exchange of contract, there will be some financial implications. First, the buyer may lose their deposit, and non-refundable costs can’t be recovered by either side (including you). Therefore, in this situation, it is common for the party responsible to be taken to court to cover losses.

If your buyer pulls out of the sale because the mortgage valuation is less than their offer, you may consider renegotiating the price in line with the reduced mortgage valuation. However, this can affect any onward purchase.

Why might a buyer pull out of a house sale?

It is most common for a buyer to pull out a house sale when the deal is near completion. This decision is typically caused by a few common scenarios.

Firstly, your buyer may have found a new property, which they prefer. Perhaps the house is cheaper, closer to their children’s school, or has a slightly larger garden. Many dropouts take place after a survey is carried out on the property. If a few issues come up – for example, rodents have been found, or there is water damage to the roof – then buyers often get cold feet. Unfortunately for you, they may not voice this concern straight away, and only do so when they secure a new property to move into.

Your buyer may also pull out because their finances are not in order. For example, if the main ‘breadwinner’ in your buyer’s household is made redundant, it is extremely common for house sales to fall through.

How much does it cost when a buyer pulls out?

When your buyer pulls out, it is inevitably going to cost you money. You may have already paid significant conveyancing fees, for example, and this is not something you can get back. A conveyancer in the UK often costs around £1000 – and the later you are in the sale process when the buyer pulls out, the more you will be charged.

There are other fees you commonly have to pay too, including survey fees, and lender valuation fees.

Research by the HomeOwners Alliance found that just over half of sellers (51%) incurred financial costs averaging £2,727, and 12% were forced to shell out more than £5,000, when a buyer pulled out of a sale.

On the other hand, you can guarantee that a buyer never pulls out of a house sale by selling to WeBuyAnyHome. As a cash house buyer, we guarantee to buy your property – meaning that you don’t have to worry about a sale falling through and the costs associated.

What can I do when a buyer pulls out?

Your options are unfortunately quite limited when a buyer pulls out of a house sale. After all, until they have signed a contract which commits them to the sale, you cannot hold them hostage.

On the other hand, the situation is slightly different if you are selling a property in Scotland. Once missives have been agreed, you can take the dropped-out buyer to court for being in breach of contract.

When your buyer pulls out of a deal, you should immediately put your house back on the market – there is no time to waste. You should also contact your estate agent, and ask them to reach out to other past bidders on your property, and find out if they are willing to increase their asking price, above what they did previously.

The next thing you need to do is communicate with the other people in your property chain (if you are in one) and inform them that your house sale has fallen through. Do not lie to them about the reasons for this – honesty is always the best policy. Once again, this is usually a task your estate agent can do for you.

You may have to re-adjust your expectations after a buyer pulls out of a house sale. For example, if you are keen to move quickly, and cannot find anyone else who is willing to pay the price that your previous buyer was, then you may have to accept an offer £15,000 or £20,000 cheaper. This is never the ideal situation – and you should speak to your estate agent before making this decision – but sometimes, stubbornness can cause the house sale to drag out for several more months after a sale falls through.

In a situation where you want to move house quickly, you can also contact a cash house buyer. This option will typically result in you receiving less money for your sale than was initially going to be the case – but if the lost sale has upset you, and you want the property ‘out of your hair’, then a cash house buyer can be an excellent, convenient option.

When can you pull out of a house sale?

You can withdraw or reject an offer on a property up until the exchange of contracts.

However, there is a legally binding contract after the exchange of contracts in which both parties will be subject to the terms.

Withdrawing before the exchange of contracts is not as much of a headache, but you can still be faced with charges to pay.

As a seller, you sometimes have to pay an estate agent’s fee if they have found a buyer who can complete, but you then withdraw. Check the terms of your agreement with the estate agent to be sure.

Can you withdraw an offer on a house

You can withdraw or reject an offer on a property up until the exchange of contracts.

However, there is a legally binding contract after the exchange of contracts in which both parties will be subject to the terms.

Withdrawing before the exchange of contracts is not as much of a headache, but you can still be faced with charges to pay.

As a seller, you sometimes have to pay an estate agent’s fee if they have found a buyer who can complete, but you then withdraw. Check the terms of your agreement with the estate agent to be sure.

Do solicitors charge if a house sale falls through?

The vast majority of solicitors charge for their services, even if the house sale falls through. This is particularly the case when the sale is close to completion – and the costs may be higher in this situation because your solicitor will have already paid for surveys and legal fees.

Unfortunately, you have no choice but to pay these fees, and should contact your conveyancing solicitor to find out how much they are. The cost can vary, depending on what stage you are in the property sale process.

Some solicitors only ask for a deposit before starting their work, whilst others will take their costs out of the money made from the sale and transfer the remaining balance to you.

Sell your house quickly in the UK

When selling a property in the UK, the average time taken to final completion is 6-9 months. It is a complex and stressful process, and one full of risks. And it all happens when the seller most wants clarity and certainty.

You want to sell your house fast, perhaps by selling your property online – and We Buy Any Home can help. We are a cash house buyer that sells your property quickly in any timeframe. No fees, no hassle, and no delays.

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