How to stay ahead of the game

I have just put my house on the market, and the estate agents have received a huge amount of interest. We have had more than one offer for my property already.

I have just put my house on the market, and the estate agents have received a huge amount of interest.

We have had more than one offer for my property already. Two prospective purchasers are very keen, and I cannot decide which one to sell to.

Can I ask my solicitor to send a contract to both of them - and then the one that is ready first will be able to buy my house?

You are talking about a contract race and you should think about this very carefully.

Your estate agents will advise you as to whether this is a sensible course of action, or whether it would be better to choose which of the buyers who can pay the best price and can proceed on the terms that you require.

But wouldn't it be simpler just to issue contracts to all of those who are interested?

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Under the Solicitors' Practice Rules 1990, rules have been set down regarding contract races and if your solicitor breaches these rules, he or she may face disciplinary action.

What do these rules say?

If you decide to run a contract race, your solicitor must tell all parties that there is a race. The precise terms of the race must be made clear.

Often the terms of the race are that the first buyer who presents a signed contract and deposit cheque at your solicitor's office will secure the property.

What are the disadvantages of a contract race?

Many buyers would be reluctant to enter into a contract race, as the loser will have incurred substantial expenses.

A contract race may deter buyers who would otherwise have been genuinely interested, but do not wish to waste significant sums of money and have all of the stress of a contract race.

You should discuss this with your estate agent and solicitor. This decision aside, it sounds as if you are going to sell your property easily, so it is just a case of taking advice from your estate agent and solicitor and then deciding the best way to proceed.

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