Withdrawal from house purchase between exchange and completion

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taffinnorfol | 14:05 Sun 03rd Jan 2010 | Law
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My highly volatile mother-in-law finally decided to move to live near to us (her daughter and 2 x grandchildren) from a place 140 miles away where she has no friends or family and which she refers to as her prison and solitude. Yippee!
After referring lots of houses to her, she finally "quite" liked one (despite saying the kitchen's too small / her current dining table won't fit in the dining room etc.) and she put in a really low offer. The offer was, to everyone's surprise, accepted and she exchanged contracts before Christmas with Completion to take place on 8th January! It's not a dependent sale and she intended to sell her current house in the New Year.
On the last day of her Christmas stay with us, she went into a complete melt-down rant with my wife, saying that she felt forced into a decision on the house, hated it, hated us and many other very hurtful things, including to one of her grandchildren. I took her home, biting my tongue to avoid further confrontation, before New Year (as planned) and told her to let us know what she wanted us to do re the house as we were supposed to secure the property once keys were handed over. I suggested that she could sell it in Spring and, on a rising market, even make a few quid in the process. She shut the door on me! As a trained psychologist, my opinion is that she is delusional and might have a serious mental problem although I have suggested to her that the stress of the proposed move might be distorting her perception of things - that went down well!!!
The questions I have are - apart from loss of the 10% purchase price deposit, what costs is she likely to face if she pulls out from the purchase before Completion? What on earth can we do to help her see sense.


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WE were in similar situation 4 years ago. In our case Ma-in-law needed lots of reassurance and love and telling her she was doing the right thing in moving. ( And I mean LOTS of reassurance.) and even now the house is not quite right and the garden is too big ( we pay for gardener ) I guess she is just a discontented person at heart. But it was still the right move for her and for us as I can see her most days and support her ( We are on Isle Of Man she was in Birmingham) Can't give you an answer about costs but to me she sounds very frightened and is looking for you all to say " Oh please come and live near us , We love you and want to see you" As a trained psychologist you might think she is delusional but as a daughter in law I think she is acting normally .
So the lady is normally volatile, and abusive to your family in your home----may I ask why you are bothering with all this.Time is of the essence I realise for the property , but why not let her calm down a little before you try to help again.

If she is delusional and may have a serious mental problem , as you suspect from your experience , it is unlikely that she will react in a favourable way if pressurised and harried about her housing intentions.
A very low key approach to her problem may help her.After all the problem is hers ,not yours, inspite of her being part of your family.
I am not sure that you can pull out ater contracts have been exchanged, but do not have knowledge on this to adviise.
Further to my previous post --yes you can pull out and lose your deposit, normally 10% of purchase price and you will incur the charges of your solicitor to date. Looked this up out of self interest.
I though potentially the purchaser could go to court and require satisfaction of the contract? Ie that it happens. Particularly if the vendor has the means to do so, as sounds like the case here.

Dzug is correct, and I have posted on the other category you listed this question. The seller could in theory insist on specific performance of the contract and force the sale through, and in the current market this is happening more often.
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Thank you all for your thoughts and knowledge. Sadly, mother-in-law is a very difficult person who blames everyone else for her mistakes. Having isolated herself because of her moods we thought we could make her happy by including her in our life. Best intentions and all that...!!! We'll just wait to see whether she reflects on what she stands to lose in so many ways.

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Withdrawal from house purchase between exchange and completion

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