Change English law on house purchase so offers are more binding
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After months of work, worry and expense by other parties, a buyer can drop out at the last minute at no penalty except his (or her) legal costs and with no compensation to the person he has let down. My mother at 88 is trying to downsize after my father's death. Offers for her to buy and sell were accepted back in July, and a provisional removal date during next week (late October) was agreed a few weeks ago by all parties. Mum's buyer refused to visit the property at all or meet her until yesterday which was odd, but none of the professionals told us there was a problem. Apparently he made the offer after driving past outside. All the solicitors moved very slowly and we were assured this was normal, so we couldn't issue any ultimatum to the buyer until very recently when the other parties were eventually ready to exchange. The buyer's solicitor had made the usual searches and prepared documentation for the sale for us to sign. In the last week or so, the buyer suddenly started asking questions about the property and requested a plan of the garden. All this information was available to him months ago. I'm told he misled my mother and the estate agent about whether he intended to demolish the house, telling the estate agents yesterday that he did, and he was often unavailable to them when they phoned him adding to our frustration. He withdrew his offer by email yesterday. We are told some people further up the chain who are elderly, with one in poor health, are distraught that the sale has fallen through, and that they had already booked removal firms. Apparently a bridging loan by my mother would involve an extra payment of £8000 stamp duty, which might be returned upon sale of my mother's house, and we do not think it is a sensible route to take. From other stories, I know many people have had similar let downs. I have often heard and have experience of the Scottish system which usually works much more smoothly due to more binding offers. I was also told that the French system has penalties for reneging on an offer. I'm asking the government to look at systems in other countries, and come up with legislation which prevents people from dropping out at a late stage with no warning and no penalty. This would prevent so much upset and worry for so many people.
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