An updated version of this article is here: Attended Exchange after Brexit
Attended exchanges are making a come back, but what is an ‘attended exchange’?
An ‘attended exchange’ is where the Buyer’s solicitor ‘attends’ the Seller’s property solicitors’ offices to effect an exchange of contracts shortly after an offer being accepted by the Seller. The ‘Attended exchange’ results in an exchange of contacts happening within 24 hours of an offer being accepted as opposed to a number of weeks.
It is a weapon in an aggressive buyer’s armoury. In the 1990s it was frequently used by cash buyers or incentivised buyers who were desperate to acquire a property due to the increase in the market and knock out other interesting buyers hovering around that particular property. Having spoken to numerous estate agents and property solicitors throughout the UK it appears as though the ‘attended exchange’ is coming back into fashion.
Why the return of the ‘attended exchange’?
Like gazumping, the phenomenon of the ‘attended exchange’ resurfaces when sellers start to hold the balance of power in the property market. Over the last few weeks it has been widely reported that as a result of a shortage of properties being placed on the market desperate buyers are looking at creative ways of ensuring that they purchase a property that they desire. Some top end estate agents have even been speaking about ‘sealed bids’ whereby multiple buyers place bids (theoretically in secret) for a property on a given day and the Seller proceeds with the highest bidder.
The speed of transaction is often a determining factor when a seller decides who to sell to and there is nothing quicker than an ‘attended exchange’
Home Information Packs have made ‘attended exchange’ easier than they would have been years ago.
In the past, as a property solicitor (I was a property solicitor before converting to a licensed conveyancer), I would often have a client instruct me to immediately rush to the seller’s property solicitor only to find that property solicitor did not have any paperwork to look at. The contracts were sometimes hardly worth the paper they were written on by virtue of the fact that completion would be conditional upon so many documents being made available prior to completion such as the Local Authority Searches, Water Searches, management information, etc. .
Post Home Information Packs every property must have a Home Information Pack, the ‘attended exchange’ is much easier. Home Information Packs contain the bulk of the legal documentation required in a conveyancing transaction, especially in freehold properties. In the case of leasehold, you might be caught short a little bit in the Home Information Pack as there is no requirement for Leasehold Home Information Packs to include management and service charge information.
Cash buyers or buyers that are prepared to take the risk of proceeding to exchange of contracts without a mortgage offer should give serious consideration to an ‘attended exchange’. It is not for the faint-hearted and most property solicitors in the UK are not capable of doing an ‘attended exchange’ because a property solicitor does have to think on their feet and have significant drafting skills and the confidence to deal with a complete set of paperwork in a very short period of time.
The type of property solicitor who is interested in a tick box approach to conveyancing is not going to cope with an ‘attended exchange’.
I am not aware of any property solicitors currently marketing ‘attended exchanges’ This is a service that we offer at Fridaysmove, so get in touch on 0800 038 6446.