1. Don't tell the other party and/or the estate agent that you’re desperately keen to purchase the property:
This will reduce your leverage in negotiating terms. One scenario is where an agreement that is subject to a prior offer/agreement comes to an end. In fear of losing out, the purchaser indicates that he/she is keen to purchase, and is pressured by the vendor, through his solicitor and estate agent, into reducing the due diligence process to only a couple of days before declaring the agreement unconditional. Make sure you allow enough time to get all of the information you need to make the right purchase decision, and think about what may not be obvious.
2. Complete your due diligence - do not simply trust the other party and/or estate agent:
In this instance the purchaser of a property was not happy with certain issues in the Building Report and wanted the vendor to rectify them. The estate agent, eager to close the deal, told the purchaser that the vendor had other offers and if the purchaser didn’t go unconditional soon, he would lose the contract. The estate agent further assured that the remedial work would not cost much. The purchaser declared the agreement unconditional against his solicitor’s advice. When properly assessed, the cost of the remedial works turned out to be enormous.
3. Don't feel the need to trust the other party and/or the estate agent, just because they seem 'nice'.
When it comes to money, everyone is in it for themselves. A business-savvy couple (the Purchasers) wanted to purchase management rights to a commercial accommodation property which was owned by an elderly couple in their 70s. The purchasers met the elderly couple and were very complimentary about how they had managed their business to date. However, their solicitor noted that some of the clauses in the agreement were detrimental to the purchasers as it left them open to risk of future claims by third parties due to the vendor's fault. The purchasers were advised to amend the agreement before going unconditional. The vendor's lawyers knew that the purchasers were very eager to purchase the property, so they declined to agree to variation of the terms. The purchasers thought that if they spoke to the "nice couple” they would happily instruct their solicitor to agree to changes in the agreement. The couple replied that they would stick to their lawyer's advice and refused to agree to any amendments.
4. DON’T take legal advice from a person whose job is to sell the property.