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  1. Blog
  2. Pulling out of a house purchase
Conveyancing help and guides
17 January 2022

Pulling out of a house purchase

GetAgent Team

Table of contents

  1. 1. Can I pull out of buying a house?
  2. 2. Can I withdraw my offer on a house?
  3. 3. How to withdraw an offer on a house
  4. 4. How to pull out of a house purchase
  5. 5. Pulling out of a house purchase before exchange
  6. 6. Pulling out of a house purchase after exchange
  7. 7. What happens if a buyer pulls out before exchange of contracts?
  8. 8. When can I pull out of buying a house?
  9. 9. FAQs

There are a variety of reasons someone might change their mind about buying or selling a home — changes in circumstances, new jobs, fluctuations in the market, issues arising from home surveys, or simply changing your mind. But how far along in the house sale process can you go, before it’s too late to go back?

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know if you are considering pulling out of a house sale.

Can I pull out of buying a house?

The short answer is yes. You can pull out of a house purchase (with relative ease) up until contracts are exchanged.

The contracts are the conditions of the purchase and sale between both parties. Once contracts have been exchanged you’ll have entered into a legally binding agreement. You may still be able to pull out after the contract stage, but you’ll be subject to the requirements stated and risk potential court proceedings and significant financial loss.

Can I withdraw my offer on a house?

If it has been accepted, you will still be able to withdraw your offer, as long as contracts have not been exchanged. In the UK, an accepted offer is not legally binding, it’s simply a verbal agreement between the buyer and seller.

It’s fairly easy to withdraw an offer you’ve made on a property, either before or after it has been accepted.

How to withdraw an offer on a house

In order to withdraw an offer you have made on a house, simply:

  1. Contact the estate agent or your solicitor.
  2. They will go back to the buyer and let them know that you’ve changed your mind about the purchase, and you’re withdrawing your offer.
  3. Even if the offer has been accepted, you’ll still be able to pull out of the house sale as long as the contract exchange has not occurred.

How to pull out of a house purchase

Pulling out of a house purchase before exchange

Just follow these simple steps if you’re looking to pull out of the sale before the contract exchange:

  1. Contact your solicitor or conveyancer to tell them you’d like to back out.
  2. They will inform the other parties involved
  3. They will negotiate with the seller on your behalf if there are any fees to discuss.
  4. You may still be required to pay your solicitor if they have carried out work or incurred costs already.

It’s a straightforward process to be free of the sale, but it’s a different story if you wait until after contracts are exchanged.

Pulling out of a house purchase after exchange

You’ll be breaching the terms of the contract if you do not wish to proceed with the sale after exchange has happened.

  1. If you are the buyer, you can expect a “Notice to Complete” to be issued to you,
  2. This gives 10 days for you to complete the sale, and you’ll owe the seller daily interest on the agreed sale price.
  3. Even if the reason you’re pulling out is out of your control, you’ll still be breaking the terms you have agreed to, and your seller will be entitled to end the contract, and keep the deposit for the home (usually 10% of the sale price).
  4. The seller can then put the house back on the market, claim damages or financial loss for any depreciation in value, or ask you to pay the difference in value due to the financial loss you may have caused them.

What happens if a buyer pulls out before exchange of contracts?

If you are the seller and your potential buyer pulls out before the exchange of contracts:

  1. You’ll need to find another offer for the property. Unfortunately there’s not much legally you can do, as the sale was only verbally agreed (when you accepted the offer).
  2. If a lot of time has lapsed, and your property value has suffered because of the delay the buyer has caused, then you could seek legal action for financial loss.

When can I pull out of buying a house?

If you are considering pulling out of a house sale, then do so before the exchange of contracts. Though it is inconvenient for the seller, you will have no legal obligation to owe them any money and it’s simple to withdraw when you are not legally bound by the contract. As covered above, you can pull out after the exchange occurs, but you will be liable for substantial financial damages and be breaking a legal agreement.

FAQs

Can you sue someone for pulling out of a house purchase?

Always seek legal advice, but you should be able to sue for financial loss as well as any incurred fees, and potentially will be able to keep the buyers 10% deposit on the home. If a buyer pulls out of the house sale after the contracts have been agreed and exchanged, then you can take legal action as they will have broken the terms of the contract.

Do I have to pay the solicitors if I pull out of a house purchase?

If you’re the seller you need to check the terms of your agreement with your estate agent and legal representative. If they have found a buyer who's willing and able to complete but you withdraw the property from sale, you might still have to pay their fee.

Whether you're the seller or the buyer, you'll also need to check the terms you’ve agreed with a conveyancer. For example, you could still be charged for the hours of work carried out by the conveyancers and solicitors even if the sale doesn’t complete, and you’ll pay any costs they have incurred so far such as covering the fees for local authority searches.

What happens if you make an offer on a house and change your mind?

If you decide the property isn’t for you, after you make an offer, you can always withdraw your offer through your solicitor before contracts are exchanged. Contracts are usually exchanged around three months after offer acceptance so there is a window where you’ll be able to back out if needed.

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