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When to tell my buyers

Hello

Just after a bit of advice as I've not sold/bought before (only bought).

My OH and I are buying a house together. I have a house that is selling. Offers accepted all round and searches/enquiries currently going ahead.

Our new house has an extra bit of land that has been fenced in for 20+ years. Some of the land was purchased/registered, some is still registered to the developers however was fenced in with the registered land so technically they own it, just not on paper.

The vendors have agreed to do an Adverse Possession so that it 'officially' comes with the house. Good news as otherwise the extra bit of land would be worthless (you have to cross the developer bit to get to the registered bit).

However, our solicitor has said that this could take "a couple of months" and is asking what we want to do with our buyer. They are suggesting we tell them about the potential delay ASAP.

The sale/purchase has to happen as part of the same transaction as I need to port my mortgage across to the new house (ERC would be about £6-8k and current rate is <4% for the next 3 years so want to keep it). 

Part of me wants to absolutely keep my buyers in the loop.
Part of me thinks we should tell them only if they ask.
People keep telling me we shouldn't say anything at all and just let it run its course with Land Registry.

I'm so worried that by telling the buyers that they may drop out however there's only 3 of us in the chain and I know if it were me I'd just stick it out but I can't speak for them. They are a young FTB couple who are currently renting.

We're about 3 months into the buying process since all offers were accepted.

For those of you well versed in buying houses - would you want to know? Would a delay of this scale make you want to back out?

Comments

  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,338
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    The fact they're renting would be relevant to me - they'll need to give appropriate notice so may well be keen to confirm dates as things progress on their end. 

    AFAIK, the period for the registered owner to object to an adverse possession claim after receiving notification from the Land Registry is 65 days... so 2 months might be optimistic - and it's not like your buyers won't notice the delay. 

    I'd tell them, and if it looks like they'll pull out I might offer them a month or two rent to keep the chain together? 
    I'm not an early bird or a night owl; I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.
  • theartfullodger
    theartfullodger Posts: 14,378
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    edited 22 January at 4:35PM
    Couple of months?? Why on earth would the developer not want money to sell?? Do you give large sums of money to people who just ask??  I don't (charities yes, but not large amounts - although I reduce my income tax by declaring the charity donations...)
  • Couple of months?? Why on earth would the developer not want money to sell?? Do you give large sums of money to people who just ask??  I don't (charities yes, but not large amounts - although I reduce my income tax by declaring the charity donations...)
    I don't know if anyone has approached the developer. The houses were built late 80s, I don't even know who the developers are. 

    The current owners have basically been using all the land as an extension to their garden - the bit they on paper purchased and this extra bit that they didn't. We're talking a couple of feet of land just along the original boundary line - it's just a skinny strip but it just happens to run horizontally across the land so 'bars' access to the bit they do own as there's no right of way across it (if that makes sense). 

    Also doesn't help that the vendors have passed away so why this land wasn't purchased alongside the other bit is a mystery to everyone.

  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,641
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    There may be a reason they were not able to buy it. e.g A service strip  for utilities or such  like.

    The developer could object  or want paid for the land.
  • JM68
    JM68 Posts: 75
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    I would expect your buyers at this point would have an expectation that the process may not take much longer.

    My understanding is that the adverse possession process is not likely to be quick.  See the Land Registry practice guide below.  My reading is that preparing the application (which seems quite complex), the Land Registry processing the application, inspection of the land and surveyor report, then 13 weeks for the response, then final decision and registration is going to take more than a 'couple' of months.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/adverse-possession-of-registered-land/practice-guide-4-adverse-possession-of-registered-land

    And that assumes the developer is not going to see an opportunity to object in the hope of getting some money to settle the claim.

    Meanwhile your buyers are paying rent and possibly have even given notice or soon may.  More importantly their mortgage offer is almost certainly going to expire a long time before the adverse possession would be completed, so trying to hide the fact from them is just delaying the inevitable and may also create additional bad feeling.

    Telling them sooner at least gives you a better idea of whether they will wait or not and, if not, you could find a another buyer while the adverse possession application is underway?  In my own view, its also the 'right thing' to do with a delay of this order of magnitude and they may be fine with it, as you say you would be in their shoes.

    Alternatively, could you ask your solicitor if you could proceed to buy without the issue being resolved and make your own application for adverse possession later, either at risk or with indemnity insurance from the vendor?  I am assuming it not affect the mortgage valuation if title is not included for that piece of land.
  • gm0
    gm0 Posts: 799
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    edited 22 January at 5:43PM
    As @JM68 says.  The linkage of adverse posession being completed to conveyancing is something you have created (or your solicitor has who cares about their fee and not creating liability for not alerting you to risks but not about chains or whether your transaction holds together).

    If you absolutely want it to be on the critical path.  Because you would not buy this place without the "integral" garden.  All as explicit title. Fair enough.  Your decision.

    But this process could be months of unknown duration lurching along.  Your buyer will (correctly) be livid. Mortgage offers expiring all that jazz.   If in practice you have title A and title B and the facts on the ground are what they are. Enclosed. For decades already.

    So if your previous owner doesn't do it.  And you buy it anyway.   What then.
    Then unless the rules have changed - you will need a declaration of the continuous use and enclosure from the registered title owners - or to wait - again for the defined period and declare yourself.  

    How strict LR are on the signatures representing this prior ownership (given that yours are deceased) I do not know.

    If not - then whoever buys this enclosed strip and wants to proceed down the adverse possession route needs to wait.  And then fill the forms out under the rules then. 

    You could end up starting this process, losing your buyer, then discovering the adverse possession can't proceed yet due to the deaths. 

    And then you have the same decision you have today.  Buy and sort it out later (staying a long time).  Or walk and buy something else (staying only a short time - concerned this is an issue at sale - correctly)

    If it was me - I would be *more* concerned - what the strip was/is for. by examining the neighbouring title plans and services.  The most likely scenario is it is just a legal anomaly at this point and of no further developmental use.  But I would want to be confident of that.
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