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Ready, Willing and Able Buyer

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Hopefully somebody can clarify this in more detail. A ready, willing and able buyer on an estate agent’s contract is something I’ve seen a lot of recently, so what does this really mean? I’ve read some posts on this forum and other places on the internet and the whole term seems to be quite vague at times and hoping somebody here can help clarify the situation better.

For example, if somebody views your property and makes an offer at the full price which the seller accepts but then later changes their mind does the seller then have to pay the agent’s commission? Or do things have to progress much further along, like having a surveyor around and then reporting to the mortgage company who then either approve the buyer or not, what then happens if the seller changes their mind at this stage on mortgage approval? Or if the surveyor finds plenty of things wrong with the property and the seller refuses to fix or drop the price, the buyer drops out can the seller be accused of effectively refusing to sell? Or does the term ready, willing able buyer only come into effect on the unconditional exchange of contracts if the seller changes their mind at the last moment?

Also if a seller were for some reason shown to be withdrawing more than once from an offer on their property within the contract period, would they be liable to pay the commission each time they had withdrawn from the sale or is this only a once only penalty?

What I’m really trying to fathom out here, is at what point does the seller actually become liable under law to pay the agent’s commission.

Thanks in advance for any responses here.      


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