Missives concluded – does that mean I’ve sold my house?

Image of a formal document with a pen on top signifying missives concluded

You’ll have heard lawyers and, perhaps, your friends and family talk about “missives” when they’re buying or selling a house. Missives are the letters lawyers exchange that make up the contract for sale and purchase. So, when you hear people talking about missives concluded, that means that the contract has been completed. But does that mean you’ve actually sold your house.

We always remind clients when they accept an offer that it isn’t binding until missives are concluded. When we receive the offers for your sale and discuss these with you, you will indicate which offer is the most acceptable. We then get on with the exchange of letters with the buyer’s solicitor to finalise the terms of the contract. The exchange of letters will accept, remove or impose conditions. Whilst this process continues, either party can withdraw without penalty. The exchange of letters between solicitors can go on for a few weeks. Once this process is completed, the terms of the contract are agreed.  At this stage we will tell you that “missives have been concluded.

The concluded missives contain conditions on both seller and buyer. Some are technical and relate to the title to the property. Others will cover the condition of the property and the things you are leaving. There will be conditions on the buyer to pay the price on the date or entry in exchange for the keys. The sellers has to give vacant possession of the property to the buyer. There will always be a condition that outlines what happens if the buyer fails to pay the purchase price.

Missives concluded – but they contain suspensive conditions

There are, however, situations where the buyer can withdraw from the purchase without penalty. That can happen when the missives include some “suspensive” conditions. An example of this type of condition might be that the purchase is subject to the buyer securing a suitable mortgage. Alternatively, it might be that the purchase is subject to the buyer selling his or her own house.

If the missives contain conditions such as these, whilst missives are concluded, and for all intents and purposes you’ve sold your house, it still means the buyer can pull out without penalty.

So, having missives concluded in your sale is essential, making your sale pretty secure and giving you a considerable degree of certainty. If, however, the missives contain suspensive conditions, there is always the risk the buyer can pull out even though missives are concluded.

We would always take your clear instructions on any suspensive clauses prior to concluding missives.

If you have any questions or concerns about a property matter, please get in touch.