Q. The offer that I have just made on the property I intend to buy is apparently ‘subject to contract’, what does this actually mean in real terms?

A. Buying your first property can be an absolute minefield and what seems like a perfectly normal term to your lawyer can raise endless questions to a regular buyer such as yourself.  It’s usual when negotiating the purchase of a property for offers to be made and accepted ‘subject to contract’. This makes the offer and the acceptance conditional on the formal contract being prepared and signed by both parties. This means that until the stage is reached where a formal contract is signed by both parties, neither the seller nor the buyer has a contract that they can enforce, and therefore there can be no breach of contract. This unfortunately is one of the frustrating situations in property selling for both the buyer and the seller as neither is certain of the other until things are legally binding which doesn’t actually happen until exchange of contracts.