Q. I have been due to exchange on my property for the past two weeks with the only thing holding things up being the searches, they wouldn’t accept a private search so I decided to pay an extra fee for the local authority ones to be sped up to a 72 hour service. Now they are back, my solicitor has received a whole load of new enquiries one being that the buildings insurance refers to the block as another name – apparently the original off plan name and they are insisting this is clarified, is this going to take forever to resolve, and if so is there any way I can push for exchange and sort this out afterwards?
A. Sales are typically fraught as we approach exchange with the seller desperate for the exchange to tie the buyer in as we know that nothing is legally binding here in the UK until exchange and either party can walk away from the deal up until that point leaving you high and dry with a hefty solicitors bill and no house sale to show for it. Last minute further enquiries are very frustrating especially if you were told they were ready apart from the searches. The issue you have with the block insurance is one that often come up as developments are often known under a different name during construction and off plan sales, and then once completed the block name may be changed to its ‘real name’ as it were. This is where this type of confusion can arise, as the insurers often use the off plan name, and banks will never accept this as everything needs to be black and white. This can be resolved by your solicitor approaching the insurers directly for clarity to confirm that the block insurance is for your apartment in the name it is now known in, this could take a few days to a week or two depending on how quickly the insurance are able to confirm this in writing. In order to expedite an exchange I would recommend asking your solicitors if that can exchange subject to the outstanding enquiries being collected between exchange and completion, agreeing a long stop date or an on or before completion date to allow enough time to collate the outstanding information. This can be done by way of a clause or rider being inserted into the contract which is usually a satisfactory solution for all parties. Exchange can then take place making the sale legally binding and you can relax and leave the rest to your solicitor to address whilst you await completion.