Protracted Sale Agreed concerns

We went Sale Agreed on a house on Dec 21st. We outbid another interested party. We paid a booking deposit on the 22nd.
There is a retention planning application for a rear velux window that won’t be cleared until the end of February, and also a small repair job to be carried out by the vendor before we can get our Building Survey done - so this will hold up the signing of contracts.

The estate agent has sent details to both solicitors and to ourselves. The house has been marked Sale Agreed on their website and on and also in the estate agents window.
The agent promised me that the sign outside would be changed to Sale Agreed before Christmas.

On Friday 8th January the local paper carried a small advert showing the house for sale at the original asking price. I have also realised that the sign outside the house is still For Sale.
Due to the unavoidable delay before contracts can be signed this behaviour worries me a little. I had expressed this concern to the agent before paying the booking deposit and he assured me it would be taken off the market immediately.

The house is unoccupied, the seller is not in a chain and is eager to sell so I do believe they want a simple transaction.
What do you think? Incompetence, laziness or something more sinister?

I guess I probably sound a bit paranoid, but how should I deal with the estate agent to give me peace of mind over the next couple of months?

First of all, figure of whether it’s incompetence (ads were pre-booked and never cancelled) or malice (EA/vendor want to keep their options open). Have someone else call first thing in the morning and ask to view the house (they can always cancel later). That will tell you the state of play.

If it’s still being shown, I would be inclined to tell the agent that if it’s still for sale you’d like to renegotiate the price, given all the tales of property price woe over xmas.

It’s probably just incompetence though.

Sorry for the side step but You don’t need planning permission for a rear Velux window, seems odd to go for retention of it.

Apparently, these particular velux windows do need permission.
Whilst they are at the rear of the house, they are on a pitched roof kitchen extension and facing to either side, visible from the road and adjacent properties.
This obviously surprised the vendor too.

The planning application will give you a good idea on your future neighbours as well if any observations are submitted! Make sure to follow it online.

:nin . Definitely :nin

There’s a reasonable chance that the ad was booked and maybe even laid out before Christmas. I might not be significant but I’d probably have the same feeling you had. Maybe ask the agent for an update on when the sign will be updated?

When we bought, the house remained for sale on the agent’s site, in her office window and the sign in the garden wasn’t changed until we had exchanged contracts.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Maybe you’re paranoid. Maybe you’re not. Maybe there’s something sinister afoot. Maybe there isn’t. Have you asked the agent why the ad appeared & the sign is not changed? Maybe there’s nothing sinister afoot, but a would-be purchaser takes a drive-by, sees the sign, contacts the agent & makes a higher offer. Maybe your under bidder has been getting it in the neck from the wife since they were out-bid & he contacts the agent now to increase the offer, not aware that the sign is not changed. Either way, and whether or not it’s sale agreed, the agent must by law report all higher offers to his client. Maybe you’ll see something else you prefer and just change your mind. There’s a million reasons why things happen the way they do and two million reasons why they don’t happen the way we thought they would.

Maybe its incompetence, maybe its laziness. Maybe he asked his secretary to do two jobs before the Christmas break - change the sign & cancel the ad. Maybe she had a domestic with her boyfriend & forgot. Maybe he asked her to do two jobs before the Christmas break; make sure the ad runs & don’t order the sale agreed.

The agent cannot give you peace of mind. He only acts as agent for the seller and cannot bind either party (vendor or purchaser) to the contract. Your only way to secure the property is to have contracts signed & exchanged, which can be done subject to the completion of the works & receipt of planning for the rear windows (mind-you, I suspect there could well be a building regulation compliance issue that might not be so easily rectified). Only at that point can you (start to) think the property might be yours.

Yes Locutus - a lot of maybes.
I’ve spoken to the estate agent.
They apologised for the newspaper ad and said it went in before Christmas. The also apologised for the delay in changing the sign and will do it over the next day or so.
I also had someone ring enquiring about the house and they were told it was sale agreed and the estate agent moved the conversation on to other properties. So that’s all good.

May I ask what this suspicion is based on?

That leaves open the possibility that I might be significant - but it seems so boastful to put it that way.

so on the face of it, everything is proceeding according to plan?

Anyway. Under normal circumstances, velux windows to the rear of a property shouldn’t require planning, for example, If I stick a velux in my bog-standard-attic-of-my-bog-standard-3-bed-semi-in-a-bog-standard-road to provide light, I shouldn’t require planning. If, however, I’ve changed the configuration of the house, that might be an issue. I’m not sure why a velux in itself needs planning. Ask your solicitor to check it out. 2 phone calls is all that’s needed. Or phone the agent yourself.

Jeez - I went sale agreed on a place on June 21st - planning to close mid Feb. These things just take time.

Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
My issue wasn’t that it may take time, rather that in this time the estate agent had already reneged on promises he had made to me.
Being a FTB I just wanted to get a steer on how to deal with someone who deals in houses for a profession.
Anyway, I have a bit more faith in him now.

Hold it now.

The big promise was that the house was s/a & you’ve already had this verified by mystery shopping the EA. So he didn’t cancel the ad & didn’t put up S/A on the board. Big deal. I wouldn’t say he’s reneged on promises. His responsibility at all times is to his client. Sure, he’s got a duty of care to you, but… I think I’d be more concerned about having my solicitor get the finger out than looking around too many corners.

One step at a time. You’ll drive yourself crazy if you’re looking for conspiracy theories in the property market, they’ll come at you from all sides.

Thanks Locutus.

I’m not looking for conspiracies, but as a FTB new to all of this I just got a little concerned and came on here to ask for some experienced advice.
I am also perfectly happy with my solicitor, he has been extremely proactive and thorough so far.

I would. And whilst it’s not a big deal, the EA, by his own admission didn’t change the sign and take the house off the market as he had promised to do before I paid my booking deposit. (I stated this in my opening post)

Anyway, today has proven that I have nothing to worry about. Thanks to all of you for your guidance.