What Happens if Completion is Delayed by Your Buyer?

Estimated reading time 7 minutes

If you have ever been part of a property chain before, you have no doubt been caught up in the stress and hard work it can bring. From contracts to completion, from searches to surveys, each part of the process seems like it could go wrong at any moment.

What about when you are just about to reach that final hurdle though? Offers have been accepted, contracts are ready, and the moving date is now weeks away. It can’t possibly go wrong now, can it? Unfortunately, it can, even at this late stage. Sometimes the buyer of your property puts a stumbling block in the way, and whilst it may not mean the sale is dead and buried, it may cause reverberations further down the chain. Reverberations that can cause the move to your new home to stall or collapse.

Luckily, you can still look to have the move completed, and even when a buyer delays completion, all is not necessarily lost. In this edition of our blog, we take a look.

Can a buyer delay the completion date?

Yes, they can. Although, it can prove to be a costly thing for them to do. Once contracts are exchanged, the property transaction becomes legally binding, which commits both parties to the purchase and sale of the property. Delayed completion can be requested by the buyer. They will still purchase the property, but not within the typical timeline normally seen between exchange and completion.

What is completion?

Completion is the term given to the part of the property process where keys are handed over, and the funds from the buyer are transferred to purchase the property. Typically, completion occurs within 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts.

What is delayed completion?

Delayed completion is when a completion date is set later than the typical completion date period. This means that in some cases, a property purchase may not be completed for months after the initial contract exchange. In extreme circumstances, this period could extend to a year or more. Typically, delayed completion relates to the purchase of new builds, where properties are often not ready in time. However, it has become more commonplace across a host of property purchases over the past few years. Unfortunately, an unexpected, delayed completion can see the property transaction fall apart.

Why would a buyer delay completion?

There can be various reasons a buyer may delay the completion of purchasing your home. Some easily resolvable, others a little more complex.

Your buyer is relocating

If your buyer is based abroad and is moving to the UK, they may try and delay the completion until they are back in the country. Granted, this should have factored into the move, but sometimes, unexpected delays may arise back in their home country. This, in turn, disrupts the purchase of your property.

The exchange was only “subject to planning”

Occasionally, the contract exchange may have been “subject to planning.” This can be a little disheartening, as this type of exchange means the buyer is not committing to the sale. They are instead, waiting to have the confirmation given to them, that planning permission has been granted for them to alter the property.

The property chain could have been delayed elsewhere

The buyer may still want your home, and is committed to getting the deal completed, but elsewhere things may have slowed. The funds generated from their sale are likely being used to purchase your home, and if the people buying their property have had to force a delay, the effect of that will inevitably roll on to you.

A sudden change in personal circumstances

Life can throw up a host of surprises and incidents relatively fast, and this can often come at the time when you least expect it or want it. Relationship breakdowns, job losses, a loss in the family, and more could all result in a property transaction moving to the back of the mind. Whilst understandable, it can cause additional headaches for the other parties involved. The buyer may need to ask for a delay to assess whether the move is still affordable.

Financial problems

Whilst a mortgage agreement could be in place and funds for a deposit possibly ready to go, money issues can often cause the buyer to seek alternative funding to help push the transaction over the line.  Furthermore, the way they are funding the purchase of your property may stem from being cash house buyers. If a sudden issue arises, where those funds must be urgently used elsewhere, they may have to seek the more traditional route of applying for a mortgage, which can see a significant delay in a property purchase.

What can you do if a buyer delays completion?

You will no doubt be hoping to sell your home fast, and a delay certainly doesn’t help in those goals. In many cases, the buyer would like a quick sale too, but if their circumstances have forced the property sale in another direction, there may not be much they can do. There is something that you, as the seller, can do though.

  • Contact your solicitor. The solicitor will be an expert in all legal aspects relating to property and will be able to find potential routes to a resolution. They will also be able to give you advice and speak with the buyer’s solicitor to try and find a result that works for both parties.
  • Speak with your estate agent. Your estate agent will be next on the list. Speak to them to inform them of the reasons your buyer has demanded a delay. They will also be able to contact the buyer and the buyer’s solicitor to try and smooth out any issues.
  • Check that you are not causing any delays. This may sound strange but whilst the buyer is delaying completion, you should double-check you have not missed anything. Is all of your paperwork correct? Are you ready to move out when the transaction is completed? Has your solicitor completed all their work? If any of these parts are missing, the buyer could well state that you caused the delay in the first place.
  • Pause the exchange. You may have already seen that the buyer is slowing the process down so you could look to hold off the exchange of contracts assuming you haven’t got to that stage yet. This could provoke the buyer into working a little harder to get things completed, especially if they are keen on buying your home.

Finally, you could serve a completion notice as a last resort if the completion or delayed completion date has passed. This could be the one thing that pushes the sale of your home through.

What is a completion notice?

When you serve a completion notice, you are asking your solicitor to, in simple terms, force the purchase of the property. This notice, also known as a “notice to complete,” requires the buyer to purchase the property within ten working days of the notice being served. In many cases, the buyer will be required to pay interest on the monies owed on the property purchase. If, after ten days, the sale has still not been completed, you should contact your solicitor again. They may advise you to pull out of the sale and put in a claim against the buyer. With contracts signed, the buyer is likely to face a costly penalty.

Perhaps the fastest way to avoid a delayed completion is to take on a trusted cash buyer. Someone who can guarantee your house sale by buying it with their own funds in as little as seven days. Gone are the delays, the chains and the worry. Instead, a seamless process, where your property is valued and then quickly purchased, takes place. Leaving you free to move on with your property plans in a timescale that suits you. If this sounds appealing, speak to Gaffsy.  Our cash-buying property experts are on hand to purchase your property today, and it doesn’t matter where your house is, the condition it is in or the type of property it is. We buy any house anywhere.

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