Advice from the Property Auctions expert
David Sandeman offers guidance for those going through the process of buying property at auction, here he takes an in-depth look at understanding ‘Legal Packs'.
What is a property auction Legal Pack?
Scrutinise the Legal Pack
If you are not entirely happy with the information in the legal pack or there are still unanswered questions the best advice is 'Do Not Bid'. If you do bid, you will be bound by any matters that come to light later, and might adversely affect the property and unable to rescind (cancel) the contract.
Lookout for the 'Special Conditions of Sale'
Most auction properties will have a legal pack of documents most of which are important. Probably the most important is a document called 'special conditions' in which the vendor states that they do not accept any responsibility for any errors or omissions that you find out about after the auction. Anyone can read through the special conditions of sale and covenants.
The special conditions of sale to look out for are; a shorter completion period, an additional sellers premium and or overage clauses. With covenants, look out for; non development or split, rights of way, retirement flat age restrictions. If buying leasehold look for information regarding; the length of lease remaining, service charges and the sinking fund.
If there is nothing obviously untoward then get your solicitor to confirm your views and to look at the rest including access and the local authority planning portal. It is important that either you or your solicitor inspect this paperwork thoroughly prior to auction. Legal paperwork can always be viewed in the auction room on the day of the sale, but by this time it may be too late for the inexperienced purchaser.
Be aware that the legal pack can be incomplete, information may come in stages and very close to the auction day. Where a legal pack is incomplete contact the vendor’s solicitor. You may have to take a view, for example, if leasehold it might be appropriate to knock on the neighbour’s door to ask questions about the managing agent.
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