Property Clinic: delays after signing contracts

Your property questions answered

It is not unusual that closing dates might slip. Either party can delay this for a variety of reasons

It is not unusual that closing dates might slip. Either party can delay this for a variety of reasons


Q: We are buying an apartment and we have already received confirmation from the bank that the money was transferred to the seller and the contracts are already signed. As agreed, the closing day should have been a couple of days ago, but it did not happen because the solicitor of the seller is saying that their bank did not confirm that they received the money. On the other side our solicitor is not doing anything to try to get this sorted and we have proof that the sellers are delaying the process in order to sell the furniture that we did not want to buy. How can we proceed? This is the third time that they are delaying the sale and we just have a couple of weeks to stay in our current flat.

A: Buying and selling properties can be an exhaustive and frustrating process. There are numerous reasons that delays can occur, and frequently you can feel utterly helpless in trying to influence the timing. There are two key issues raised in your question.

First, you state your bank has confirmed that funds have been drawn down and that contracts have been transferred. To be clear, there are two stages to the contractual process. First, the exchange of contracts when the contracts are first signed. Typically 10 per cent of the purchase price will be paid to the vendors’ solicitor at this stage. Once the contracts have been signed and exchanged by both parties (buyer and seller) you are contractually bound.

Then, there is a deed of transfer which needs to be drafted and approved, closing documents signed, requisitions on title, tax affairs to be considered and searches. This all typically take four weeks after exchange but it can be longer if issues arise.

It is not unusual that closing dates might slip. Either party can delay this for a variety of reasons. However, it certainly would be unusual to have the sale delayed on three occasions by the vendors.


You have suggested that this might be because the vendors want to sell some furniture prior to closing. This could take some time, and you need to get your solicitor to write to the vendor to let them know that you are very anxious to close the sale as you only have a couple of weeks remaining in your flat. Perhaps ask that the vendors might arrange storage for the furniture in the event that it remains unsold.

Your solicitor is working on your behalf, and if you are not happy with the level of progress make contact with them. Be very clear that you are not at all happy that the closing date has slipped and that the vendor appears to have delayed closing on three occasions. Remind them that you have to vacate your flat in a couple of weeks. If, for whatever reason, the closing is delayed beyond your tenancy, you can ask the landlord or their agent to hold over for whatever additional time it takes to close the sale and move into the new property. Gerard O’Toole is a Chartered Residential Agency surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,