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Ensuring access between exchange and completion

Posted: February 2013

By Jo Eccles

I was talking to a friend recently who was approximately two weeks away from exchanging on a property, and had asked the agent if she could view it again. The agent was worried that she might get cold feet, so said that she couldn’t view it until after she’d exchanged contracts. As a first time buyer she panicked.

My advice to any buyer is to perform straight away. That means getting your solicitor to make contact with the seller’s solicitor to ask for initial paperwork, and booking in your homebuyer’s survey early on. Doing both of these things will quickly set the tone of your purchase, and give the estate agent and seller the impression that you are committed to it, without you incurring any fees.

At this point, if you do want to go back and have a second look to double check you’re happy with the property, it’s likely you’ll be allowed access. Always tell the agent you want to go and measure up for furniture – you don’t want to cause any alarm, especially as you may walk away from the viewing remembering that it really is the home you’ve been looking for. If the seller or agent do doubt your commitment, they may start lining up other buyers to replace you.

Before you exchange, we always recommend that your solicitor adds into the buying contract a clause relating to access between exchange and completion. Don’t assume you will be allowed to visit because it’s not always the case – we have seen some sellers refuse any access to the property after exchange and it’s incredibly frustrating.

Gaining access can be particularly important if you’re planning to do work to the property and need tradesmen to visit, or if you’ll be renting out the property and want to line up rental valuations and letting agents ready for when you complete. Therefore, ask your solicitor to specify that you can have a certain number of visits after exchange of contracts of an hour long for example, with 24 – 48 hours’ notice.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sppropertygroup.com or tweet her @joeccles.