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Thomas, Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7620
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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I am in the process of buying a house for my Mum. A property

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I am in the process of buying a house for my Mum.

A property was chosen, an offer made and accepted. After I received the contract documents for review and also in response to the areas highlighted in the survey, I asked to allow additional independent inspections for electrics and gas/water plumbing.

Shortly after this the sellers' solicitor contacted my solicitor to say that they did not wish to sell to me, and that the property they had put an offer in on had fallen through so they were taking their property off the market.

The same day, their property was readvertised on RightMove for £5k more than the original asking price.

From my reckoning with all the costs on local authority searches, surveyors fees etc. I have spent just under £2,000 and would like some way in which to recover this. I am waiting for confirmation from my solicitor on just what costs have been incurred from the conveyancing side.

What I do not understand is that the offer was accepted, I can spend this money and potentially have no recourse to claim it back.

Can you please advise what options I have open to me?

Best regards,


Thanks for your patience.

I am extremely sorry to say that you have no legal recourse to recover your costs in this transaction.

All property transactions are ‘subject to contract’ until such time as contracts are exchanged. This means that legal contractual relations are not formed until contracts have been exchanged. This means that neither you nor the seller are under any contractual obligations until you have exchange contracts and therefore either party is free to withdraw from the transaction if they wish without incurring any liability.

Indeed, you could similarly withdrawn from the transaction without giving any reason whatsoever and the Seller would not have been able to sue you.

Unfortunately the money that you have spent is not recoverable from the Sellers.

It’s part of the vagaries of house buying in the UK unfortunately. I am very sorry.

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Kind regards,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Thank you. What about the Estate Agents? Do I have any recourse with them? Are they not bound by: OFT guidance for estate agents: compliance with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 - a consultation Within this the following statement is made: - not acting with the standard of care and skill that is in accordance with honest market practice and in good faith (failing to show professional diligence) [p36-38]

The Agent contacted me on Friday 21st September and told me that the vendor wanted to exhange contracts by Friday 28th September with contract completion by 12th October. This was before I had received any documentation from my solicitor. Is this not against the guidelines above by putting on undue pressure, which my solicitor anecdotally

told me was for the Agent to achieve his sales figures in September?

The property was being marketed on their site as Sold Subject to Contract until today when I was told on Friday that the vendors would not be proceeding with the sale with me.

Your further thoughts are appreciated.

Best regards,


Hi Fiona,

If it was the vendor's genuine requirement then it cannot be a breach of the regulations. So to have the basis of a complaint against them you woudl have to show that it was contrary to the instructions given to the agent by the vendor.

Even if you were able to do this, this would not mean you woudl be able to claim your search fees from them because you would incurred these irrespective of the statement made by them. The loss you have suffered is too remote to say that they were caused by the agent's statement and therefore it is no claimable if the regulations were to form the basis of a claim.

I'm not trying to be obstructive, it's just better that you reconcile yourself with the fact that you are not going to be able to claim your costs from the seller or the agent.

Believe me, I do this for a living and lament this behaviour as much as anyone. The property agency system is nowhere near as regulated as it should be.

Please remember to rate my answer.

Kind regards.


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