You’ve made an offer, had it accepted, and have asked the seller to take the property you’ve fallen for off of the market.
The problem is, they’ve said they’d prefer to keep it on. Now what? What’s the best course of action when a vendor won’t take their home off the market after accepting an offer?
Read on to find out.
Your first step should always be to open up lines of communication with the seller via their estate agent.
Reach out to the seller’s agent and ask why their client is reluctant to take their property off the market. Be polite, courteous, and patient, but express your concerns and ask for clarification on the reasons why they feel the property should stay listed. Doing so will highlight any issues that may be easily addressed and give you an idea of what’s motivating them to dig their heels in.
Effective communication will ensure any misunderstandings are ironed out early and will also bring any issues and concerns to the forefront so they can be resolved.
Can I contact the seller directly?
While it may be possible to do so, it generally isn’t a great idea.
Estate agents are trained negotiators who aren’t as emotionally attached to the transaction as buyers and sellers. Their experience in the property market and proficiency in dealing with both sides of a sale enables them to provide valuable insights and guidance to both parties. They are your intermediary.
Ask the agent to help you present your concerns to the vendor so that you can work together to find a solution that benefits everyone.
State your case
A good estate agent will know how to handle situations such as this, but you should still make your position clear.
During your conversation with the seller’s agent, re-emphasise your commitment to making the transaction happen. Let them know about your concerns over other buyers entering the fray and the possibility of the process being prolonged as a result. No one–not the seller, their agent, or others in the chain–wants delays and complications, so stress the benefits of a smooth and efficient sale and your willingness to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.
Trust and cooperation between both parties are essential components of a hassle-free transaction, so make a point of highlighting the fact that you are doing your bit.
Consider a lock-out agreement
A lock-out agreement (AKA an exclusivity agreement) can be a helpful tool used to prevent gazumping and ensure the seller commits to taking the home off the market.
Such agreements are legally binding contracts between the two parties and they prohibit the seller from talking to other prospective purchasers for a specified period. While the agreement is in place, the property is taken off the market, allowing you to do your due diligence and secure your loan without the risk of being gazumped.
As with everything, however, there are pros and cons:
- Gives the buyer a sense of security and time to complete the purchase without worrying about other interested parties
- Shows the seller's commitment to the sale and their willingness to work with the buyer
- Encourages both parties to speed up the buying process to meet the agreed-upon deadline
- Drawing up these agreements may involve additional legal costs for both parties
- Some sellers may be reluctant to enter into a lock-out agreement, as it limits their ability to entertain other offers during the exclusivity period
- If the buyer fails to complete the purchase within the agreed time frame, the seller may lose other potential buyers
If you can persuade the seller to go ahead with an exclusivity agreement, it’s important to negotiate terms that are reasonable and fair for both you and them.
Take the following into consideration:
Agree on a realistic time frame for the lock-out period, taking into account the average time for mortgage approvals, surveys, and conveyancing to be carried out and completed.
Fees and costs
Discuss who will bear the legal costs associated with the lock-out agreement and whether any fees will be paid by yourself in return for the seller's commitment to not entertaining other offers.
Specify the circumstances under which the agreement can be terminated, such as failure to secure financing or the discovery of significant issues during the property survey.
As one would expect, it’s always advisable to work with a solicitor when drawing up an agreement such as this to ensure the terms are legally sound and in your best interest.
Assess your options and be prepared to walk away
As disappointing as it may be, not all property transactions will reach a successful conclusion.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself in a situation where the seller won’t budge and will flat-out refuse to take their home off the market. In such cases, it’s important to remember that walking away may be the best route to take and you’ll likely be avoiding heartache further down the road if you just walk away. The property market is forever changing, so there will be other opportunities.
That said, you shouldn’t throw the towel in too early, either.
Weigh up the pros and cons of continuing with the purchase
Before making your final decision, take some time to fully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of proceeding with the purchase.
Does the property have unique features you’d struggle to find elsewhere? Is its location too good to pass up? Would you be willing to risk being hit with a price increase? How would being gazumped affect you mentally and financially?
Ask yourself difficult questions and seek guidance from a trusted friend or family member to gain an objective perspective.
Consider alternative properties and know when it's time to move on
If you find that there are more ticks in the cons column than there are in the pros, it could be time to move on.
Although it’s easier said than done, it’s crucial not to become emotionally attached to any property you’re looking to buy. Doing so will only cloud your judgement and make rational decision-making all but impossible. Start searching for other properties in your desired area and price range, and keep an open mind about what you're looking for.
- Keep a clear head, maintain perspective, and prioritise your long-term interests
- New properties hit the market each and every day, and your dream home could be next
- Knowing when to walk away is a vital skill in negotiation, and dealing in the property market is no exception
That’s it for this week. If you’d like more information on how to be successful in the property market, the following articles may prove useful:
- Petty's Guide To Choosing A Surveyor
- How To Keep A House Chain Moving Forward
- How To Beat Other Property Buyers In A Busy Market
- What Is A Mortgage In Principle & How Long Do They Last?
If you’re based in London or West Essex and want to enter the property market soon, talk to us.
We have been operating locally for well over a century and have a wealth of experience when it comes to making things happen in the property market. Our sales team pride themselves on helping people just like you achieve the smoothest move possible, which will keep things stress-free for you. Going above and beyond is all part of what we do here at Petty Son and Prestwich.
If you want to find out just how different working with a reputable, reliable, and responsible estate agency is really like, give our team a call today to see what we can do for you.