Property Blog: Buying Blind

Published: 29/05/2014

With house prices rising at a staggering £10,000 a month, a growing number of buyers are foregoing the viewing phase and plumping straight for the offer stage. Lynne McCaffrey discusses the legalities of buying a property you haven’t even seen.

“I am definitely not an impulse buyer. I’m the type of shopper who will go around town, visiting every shop only to inevitably return to the initial retailer to buy the first thing I saw! I call it the sensible shopper approach; after all without the luxury of limitless cash you can never be sure that you won’t find something that’s a better fit.

“I therefore wouldn’t even dream of buying a property without even seeing it. However latest figures suggests there are many who would. In fact according to one London-based company between 10-15 per cent of their clients do just that.

“And we’re not necessarily talking about the lower end of the market; examples include a £2million flat, a £7million North London property and a £11.25million house where the buyer relied solely on the surveyor’s report and bank’s valuation.

“So with many taking this leap of faith what happens if they misjudge the jump?

“From a legal perspective a property purchase is only legally binding once contracts have been exchanged. This means, until this point in the conveyancing journey, either party can pull out of the deal. It may be the case that the buyer puts in an offer without seeing the property but then, after seeing it at a later date, decides it’s not for them or the survey reveals something untoward. Equally, the seller can also pull out at any point up until this point; perhaps they have received a better offer or simply decide not to sell. However any fees paid including valuations, surveys and solicitor charges will be lost.

“After contracts have been exchanged then there is a little a buyer can do without incurring a sizeable penalty.

“It’s certainly not ‘best practice’ to buy a property without at least a courtesy glance but I can understand why some buyers do in certain situations. Blind buying is more common amongst buy to let purchasers; you can also understand if a buyer has previously seen a similar property in the same street or block of flats. But then you have to ask yourself why they didn’t they buy that one? Perhaps they saw something they didn’t like?!”

Lynne McCaffreyLynne McCaffrey is a licensed conveyancer with over 18 years experience. As Head of Property at Goldsmith Williams Lynne is responsible for the day to day running of the property department, which specialises in conveyancing, remortgage, buy to let and bridging.

Content correct at time of publication

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