What are the pros and cons of attended exchange of contracts?

13th January 2022

What is attended exchange?

'Attended exchange' is an option when you need to exchange contracts as soon as possible. This usually happens when a cash buyer has a very strong interest in the property.

How does it work?

Traditionally, the buyer’s solicitor would visit the offices of the seller’s solicitor where they could work through the sale papers, before exchanging contracts the same day. The buyer and seller would also be expected to attend the meeting or, as a minimum, be available by phone so that issues can be resolved immediately. Given how comfortable everyone has become with remote working, there is now also the option of carrying out attended exchanges virtually.

Advantages.

• The buyer is very unlikely to be gazumped.
• Seller knows from the outset that the buyer is fully committed to the purchase.
• Difficult points are often resolved more easily as all parties are focused on the deal.
• There can be more scope for negotiation.
• Both parties become practical and ignore superficial issues which sometimes delay exchange of contracts.

Risks.

• Little time for considering or cooling off.
• Possibility of buyer getting carried away and overlooking important issues.
• No opportunity for further investigation, eg searches, so reliant on good quality information being provided by seller's solicitor.
• Can be expensive as requires the exclusive time of one or more experienced lawyers.
• If carried out in person, the buyer's solicitor is away from their own desk and resources.

Summary.

Attended exchange can be an excellent way of tying up a deal. Whether it’s the right option for you very much depends on the facts of the case in question. As a buyer you’ll need to be flexible on some issues and financially ready to go. You’ll also be dependent on the seller’s solicitor being extremely well prepared in advance.

With advances in technology and the ability of solicitors to share documents and plans electronically, we expect to see increasing numbers of virtual attended exchange meetings – which means both solicitors have the full resources of their own office available to them.

Middleton advice.

An attended exchange can be expensive in the short term, but is well worth considering if you want a deal tied up fast.


Advice papers.

Middleton Advice is a series of top-level answers to questions that are often raised over the course of our client relationships.

It’s important to note that you should not proceed with any investment decision on the basis of the advice contained in these papers without further consultation with Middleton or other professional advisors. Information accurate at publication date of November 2021.

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