Q. I’m selling a property for the first time and the buyer had originally asked for a simultaneous exchange and completion. However their solicitor has just come back today saying this won’t be possible and to further complicate matters she is insisting that the buyer visit the property prior to exchange to check the tenants have actually left despite me confirming this already. Given they won’t exchange until the check has been carried out we have also been notified it will be a further 5 days to draw down the completion funds. Are they just being awkward or are they just trying to string out the whole process, do they really need to check the tenants have gone and honestly does it really take 5 days to get the funds?

A. When you agree something at the onset of a sale it’s always advisable to get everything in writing. At the beginning everyone is excited and verbally expresses their desire to exchange and complete quickly but this rarely happens unless its recorded in writing on the ‘special conditions’ section of the sales memorandums, and even then things can unfold along the way that change the original plan. Had you have had this in writing your solicitor could insist that the simultaneous exchange and completion happens as discussed but its seems this is not the case so there isn’t really much you can do especially given they want to inspect to check for vacant possession prior to exchange.

This by the way is perfectly acceptable if there were previously  tenants in occupation the solicitor would always advise the buyer to inspect to make sure they have vacant possession otherwise your buyer could complete on a property with sitting tenants and that could land themselves in all kinds of hot water. As a rule it’s advisable for a buyer to have a quick check round a property they are about to exchange on anyway, as its been known for sellers to completely gut the place including removing fitted kitchens etc.

With regards to the funds, five days is the normal timescale to enable the solicitor to draw down the funds from the lender, sometimes they can reach them sooner but it’s always safer for them to allow five days so as not to incur any penalties’ for failing to complete on time because the funds haven’t arrived.