Conveyancing after auction is different to the normal process that solicitors are used to following.
When you buy a house at auction you pay a deposit and are contracted to complete within 28 days or in some cases, like ours, 14. You should have already done your preliminary searches and have taken a surveyor to the property to check for subsidence, damp and dry rot. You ‘should’ be in a position to simply buy the house.
Your solicitor doesn’t necessarily see it that way. The normal conveyancing process is one of negotiation where the solicitor protects your interests up until the point you instruct them that you are ready to exchange. Usually it is the solicitor that makes this call. You will receive a report with the results of the searches and the solicitor will take you through the detail. You then exchange contracts and fix a completion date. At auction it’s a whole new world…
At auction, you have effectively exchanged form the moment your bid is accepted. The priority then is to complete. However, if the property is a repossession, like ours, then you need to be aware that the owner (the bank) don’t give a flying one about you or the property – as far as they are concerned the property is off their books and better yet, they get to impose punitive interest rates if you miss the 28 day deadline. Their legal department will be overrun with much bigger deals than yours and they will not be responsive. The estate agent, having earned their fee by the time the auction ends are similarly disinclined to be helpful.
How to climb over these obstacles?
The pack you receive after auction should contain the name of the bank’s solicitors. Don’t bother going through the estate agent, get your solicitor plugged in to their solicitors as quickly as humanly possible. Brief your solicitor that your only priority is to complete and sign a disclaimer if necessary that you are doing this against their advice. Then beg, plead and bully them not to raise enquiries – they won’t get answers and you’re already committed in any case, there is no negotiation on price after the hammer goes down. Getting this idea accepted by the solicitor should be straightforward. That has not been our experience!
In principle, there is no absolute requirement to do the searches. After a week of inactivity our solicitor is now talking to the bank’s solicitor. We are having the searches done so that there will be no nasty surprises in the event we decide to sell the house in the future. Fingers crossed, we will complete within the contracted 28 days and if the bank bother to tell the key holders, be free to start the renovation!