We completed on the purchase of a house last Thursday. I always insist on inspecting the property on the morning of completion- much to the surprise of many agents and indeed my clients, However, it is an essential if rather tiresome part of the process. Why? Because some sellers are, quite frankly, mad.
Fortunately, in this instance the house had been beautifully cleaned and even the garden had been spruced up in a nice gesture by the seller (especially considering the dreadful weather…). However, not all sellers are this considerate. In the worst instances, some will try to remove all the door handles, lightbulbs and even the floorboards. The agent I was with last week said that he once had a client who managed to trap himself in a room having removed the doorhandle and not been able to refix it to exit the room! He was discovered by an agent and the buyers which I imagine must have been mildly embarrassing. The house was worth £5m, the doorknobs probably about £50.
Indeed, I once inspected a flat on the day of completion to find that the person living there had no idea it was being sold. You can imagine the conversation:
Me: Sorry to disturb you. I am just checking the flat before completion.
Them: Who are you?
Me: The person who is planning to move in today. Who are you?
Them: I am a friend of the owners. What do you mean you are moving in today?
Me: Errrr…I presume you haven’t booked a removals firm then. I think I need to speak to the estate agent to clarify the situation.
The owners has completely forgotten to tell him they were selling the apartment and that he and all his belongings needed to be out that day. The agent and I managed to resolve the issue, but you cannot take it for granted that just because all the paperwork has been signed and money transferred that you will have vacant possession of the property in the condition you agreed the sale. Of course, you will have legal rights, but it is always more difficult to rectify these problems if the money has already been transferred.
The inspection only takes a matter of minutes but it is vital. Admittedly, in most instances the property will be left in good order. However, a small minority of people do act in a decidedly bizarre manner. This is why it is also incredibly important to make it very clear in your offer letter what you expect to included in the sale. This does not meant that you need to start listing floorboards, doorhandles and wallpaper! These are extreme cases and you are just as unlucky if you deal with someone like this, However, do not assume fridges and the like will be left. This is especially true if the sellers think they have “lost” the negotiation.