Q. I am selling my house to a really nice couple that are in a chain but their sale is really advanced almost ready to exchange in fact. However although the sale on mine was agreed four weeks ago and I have completed all the paperwork and returned it to my solicitor, I have just heard from my Estate Agent that the solicitor has yet to confirm instructions or send out a draft contract to my buyers solicitor. This has resulted in my buyers postponing their survey which was booked in for next week. Obviously I am worried I could lose my buyers, what can I do?
A. When a sale is first agreed the first step of the process is that the Estate Agent sends out ‘Sales Memorandums’ to both the seller and the buyer and their respective solicitors. Once received both solicitors then write to each other confirming instructions. The seller’s solicitor would then get together the draft contract and supporting papers to send out to the buyer’s solicitor; upon receipt the buyer’s solicitors would then begin the buying process. Do make sure that you have signed your solicitor’s terms of business and submitted money on account requested as this too could be a reason for your solicitor not to commence work. Having done your part as a seller if the buyer’s solicitor has yet to receive confirmed instructions after the sale has been agreed for four weeks already this would indeed start to raise a red flag on the buyer’s side. Not receiving a draft contract is one thing – some solicitors prefer to get absolutely everything together before they send the pack out which would mean they are also relying on the seller returning fixtures and fittings forms as well as the seller’s questionnaire. But not confirming instructions to the other side is indeed very worrying. I would immediately contact your solicitor and ask them to confirm what the delay is? If they are awaiting further documents to be included in the pack then ask them if they can at least drop an email or fax confirming instructions to the other side. This will go a long way in setting the buyers mind at rest. If your solicitor is not very forth coming and not able to give a reasonable explanation for the delay I would seriously consider jumping ship and using another solicitor. If they are acting this way at the very onset of the transaction then how are they going to be when things really start to heat up as you near exchange, especially as you have a chain that needs to managed too? Ask your estate agent if they have a recommended solicitor you can swap over to. Change at this early stage would not have too much impact but further along it would mean starting from scratch again so if it needs to be done do it now to prevent further delays which could result in a loss of your buyer.