You found a suitable property on Rightmove - you’ve been to view the property - you’ve calculated the acquisition costs - you’ve arranged the finance - you’ve made an offer that was accepted - you go through conveyancing and are about to exchange contract when the seller dies! What do you do then?
This is the scenario that my client faced when he asked me to take over dealing with the purchase conveyancing. The decision to ask me to act on the conveyancing was no reflection on his usual conveyancing solicitor. His solicitor - who only does vanilla conveyancing - advised him to wait until a grant of probate was issued before exchanging contract.
My client was concerned that the executor may sell to another buyer after my client had invested a lot of time, money and effort into the transaction thus far. My client’s offer was at a very healthy discount to the open market value of the property and my client intended to trade the property on (at the open market value) for a profit so he was keen to secure the property as soon as possible and not wait until the grant of probate was issued - which could be up to a year, given the backlogs with the Courts. This complex problem required a creative solution, hence why my client asked me to take over and conduct the purchase conveyancing. (If you’re new to this magazine, you’ll discover that I have a reputation for creative property strategies and solutions to complex real estate problems. Search #CreativePropertyLawyer).
In this scenario, the entire conveyancing process was pretty much completed. All the searches and replies to pre-contract enquiries had been received. Mortgage all sorted.
My client’s usual conveyancer had reported to my client and obtained a signed contract and the deposit. Likewise, the seller’s solicitor had reported to their client, obtained a signed contract and obtained the seller’s verbal authority to proceed with exchange of contract. Authority was given by the seller to the seller’s conveyancer by phone on Friday. The two conveyancers then got tied up with completions so did not get the chance to formally exchange contract on that Friday. On Monday, when the seller’s conveyancer called the seller to re-confirm the authority (good practice for obvious reasons), the seller’s wife informed the seller’s solicitor that the seller had died over the weekend.