house? what house?
We put the offer in on our house on February 27th. It's now June 16th. Have we exchanged contracts yet? Nooooooooo. The house purchasing system in England (please can we adopt Scottish housing laws? Please please please?) is ridiculously and needlessly complicated. Let me explain.
In Canada, if your offer is accepted, the house is yours (I suspect that it's similar in the States). Here, you make an offer, and then (if it's accepted), you pay several hundred pounds for various searches (land registry, water, etc.) and to get a survey done on the house. Some people pay solicitor's fees up front (we very cleverly opted to pay upon completion), and then of course you've got all the joys and fees that come with selling your existing house. So, you shell out the dough for all the paperwork, you sell your house, you're ready to exchange contracts and get a move date sorted, and one of the sellers or buyers goes, "Ummm actually, we don't think we want to move anymore. We have some lovely parting gifts for you, though. Thanks for playing!" That's it. Your house purchase falls through, you're back at square one, and you've lost a few hundred quid to boot. Smashing, isn't it?
There is nothing in place that ensures once your offer is accepted, the house will definitely be yours. A buyer or seller can back out at any point, and there's nothing to stop them, legally. This is why we're a bit stressed these days and are anxious to complete the sale. And dammit, all my chocolate is gone.