Conveyancing: Who pays solicitor fees when buyer pulls out?

When selling your home, probably, the buyer of your home is selling their property too, except if they are a first-time buyer. This cycle is referred to as a property chain, and if one link in the chain falls, the whole chain can fall apart too. 


Why do buyers pull out?

There are several reasons why this may happen. It could be as a result of the buyer getting cold feet or a mortgage offer falling through. The list is endless, but one thing is sure – it will end up costing you in the process.  

You may have to remarket the property and may not gain the same price you were selling it for the first time. It can be very frustrating, especially if there were other interested buyers when the property was marketed in the first place. So, what can you do when a buyer pulls out of a house sale? 

What are your rights? 

When a buyer pulls out, and you have to drop your price to find another buyer, you may find yourself losing more money than you ever envisaged. 

Whether you have rights or not depends solely on if you exchanged contracts with the original buyer. If you did not have a contract, unfortunately, you cannot take any action against the initial buyer for your loss. 

However, if you made exchange contracts with the initial buyer, then it becomes binding, and you may be able to pursue them for your losses under the terms of your agreement.  

Your contract will usually provide that the purchase price must be paid on a set date, which is generally the completion date and failure to do so is a breach of contract. You are eligible to demand interest on the price until it is fully paid. 

If neither paid with interest (when applicable) or within 14 days, it is usually categorised as a breach of contract. At this point, you can choose to discontinue the contract.  

You will then be authorised to recover all losses that have been sustained as a result of the initial buyer’s failure to pay the purchase price on the agreed date.

What happens to the solicitor fees if my buyer pulls out when I’m selling the house?

Unfortunately, you are still liable to pay. You are obligated to pay your legal fees. However, depending on what stage you are in the sale process, the conveyance and sale will determine how much the attorney will charge you. This applies to every seller and buyer. 

When you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to rise above it quickly by: 

  • Getting your property resold as quickly as possible
  • Finding another buyer and commencing the legal process as soon as possible 

You could ask that the new buyer drop a token deposit with your solicitor who could potentially be lost if they pull out, and there is no fault on your part. 

Final thoughts

Are you interested in selling your house? Do you want to draft a contract for your buyer? Or do you need a conveyancing solicitor to help you handle the sales of your property? Look no further as we have got you covered. Visit and choose your residential conveyancing solicitor today and let them make your dreams come true.  


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