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How To Deal With A Sale Falling Through

By Laura Anderson
If there’s one thing agent Matt Lahood tells his vendors, it’s not to pop the champagne until the deal really is sealed.

“I always set my owners up for knowing that anything could happen,” he says. “I say, ‘We’re going to see some amazing things happen. So the best thing for you to do, until I say “this is done” is let’s not even get excited about anything.’”

In his years as an agent, Lahood, who is the director of sales at McGrath, has seen plenty of offers rescinded. “I could give you a book on the type of things that could happen,” he says.

“Having an offer does not necessarily mean you have sold the property.

“The owner should never bank on there being a sale until [the contract] goes unconditional.”  That happens once the cooling-off period has passed for a private treaty contract, or after the hammer has fallen and contracts are signed at auction.

After an offer has been made and accepted, plenty of things can change a buyer’s mind and cause them to rescind their offer.

“The pest-and-building could go wrong. The bank could knock back the finance. They could get a bad valuation,” Lahood says.

“Mum and dad might not like the property. I’ve had that happen plenty of times over the years where they’re all keen, the family members come in and they go, ‘You’re buying what?! You’re paying what?!’ Good old mum and dad come through and cruel the deal.”

Lahood says he always tries to persuade potential buyers to bring any family members to inspect a property before they hand over a deposit cheque so any concerns can be addressed early on.

Sometimes, it’s not so much a problem with the property and more to do with a better offer cropping up.

“Buyers [can] go out really excited on Saturday, have a look at it, ring back on Saturday again, maybe go back Sunday, make an offer on Monday. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday something new comes on the market and they jump ship, which happens often,” says Lahood.

“You’re sort of reaching for the rosary beads if you’ve got an offer on something on Saturday before the papers come out again. You hope that nothing comes out that’s going to steal your buyer away.”

Beware of rushing off and buying

The biggest danger is that vendors can wedge themselves into a tight spot.

“Owners can get a rush of blood and go and buy something else because they think they have sold their property,” says Lahood.

“We would strongly advise against buying until the contract is unconditional.

“Even if you’ve got finance approved, I still wouldn’t do it because it can just drag on after that. If there’s a bad pest-and-building, and you’ve gone and bought something, [the property you’re selling] might need rectification work. That could take a fair bit of time.”

Lahood says the recent trend for vendors to obtain pest-and-building inspections and share them with potential buyers is leading to fewer offers being rescinded as there are fewer nasty last-minute surprises to throw the deal off course. 

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