to be furious at being so openly lied to by a solicitor and confront her about it

(27 Posts)
darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 16:29:17

Long time lurker first time poster here.

I'm a first time buyer and I've had an offer accepted on a new build property (small developer) the developer offered to pay for both my mortgage advisor and solicitors fee if I used his chosen ones, a solicitor and an advisor he'd been working with for years and who get things done quickly, I didn't like the idea of this but due to all the expense of moving couldn't really afford to look a gift horse in the mouth, the mortgage advisor is amazing and has everything in hand.

All was going well and I was set to complete tomorrow, I'd contacted the solicitors weeks ago to leave my contact number and introduce myself as the developer had already instructed them, they said they'd get back in touch when they needed anything from me. I received no contact until two days ago when they sent me a corrupted email with 3 files I couldn't open at 5pm. The day after I contacted them and they said they'd a lot of forms for me to complete. I went in filled in all the paperwork and was told completion may be delayed but only by a couple of days and work was well on the way with the case.

I received another call today. It was the solicitors wanting to confirm a few details on the form, when I asked how it was progressing she said 'oh it'll be a good few weeks until exchange then two after that until completion' when I questioned it she tried to deny that we had spoken the day before and then told me she'd received instruction on the 1st and then later on said it was on the 5th. I told her I'd already sorted a landscaper and a plumber and a moving firm and was just about to end my tenancy and she said 'do you really think these things happen overnight, I have a lot of work to do you know, I was only told about you today.'

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Thu 07-Apr-16 16:32:20

I think you can make a complaint but the likelihood is it won't go anywhere. If you haven't even exchanged yet there is no way you will be completing that soon.

Do you even know if the property is built yet?

Madbengalmum Thu 07-Apr-16 16:33:06

There is no reason why you cant exchange and complete on the same day, so that is rubbish telling you two weeks apart.
Have they got the searches back, a s they can delay things?

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Thu 07-Apr-16 16:35:54

Well there is a reason if the solicitor is saying she can't! Very very unusual to exchange and complete on a new build on the same day.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 16:36:37

oops think I might have posted two threads.

the property is built and all ready to go, carpets are in and they've taken down two huge spotlights that had been in the garden.
Everything was ready for completion apart from this solicitor. The developer was dealing with her primarily as he's paying the fees and also using her for the other 10 houses on the development, he was under the impression that all she needed was some last details from me and then we'd complete and exchange on the same day. It's all come out of the blue.

FemaleDilbert Thu 07-Apr-16 16:38:06

House buying a selling is all about untruths and half truths (spent a large part of last year in the chain from hell so am slightly jaded). If you don't like lying just be glad you've bypassed the estate agents grin

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 16:39:31

She's not even sent off for the searches, she said she'd been very busy with the April 1st deadline for stamp duty, then she said she wasn't instructed about the property until the 1st and then changed her mind and said the 5th when I asked why it took her 4 days to send the email.

All I want is for it to be done as quickly as it can be now, if saying anything is going to delay it all then I won't but I'm furious. I'm living with packing boxes and now will probably have another 6 weeks to wait.

MyKingdomForBrie Thu 07-Apr-16 16:39:44

all was going well and I was set to complete tomorrow that can't have been the case without having received and signed the contract and transfer, as well as having received and checked the legal report on the property. It sounds like you have been misled somewhere along the line, was it the same lady who said completion was two days and then six weeks? Could they have been speaking about practical completion of the building rather than legal completion i.e. the sale?

CrushedNinjas Thu 07-Apr-16 16:45:48

Contact the developer and ask him to put pressure on her to prioritise you over the other house sales.

pookamoo Thu 07-Apr-16 16:47:34

Sorry to hear this, it must be really disappointing!

I used to work as a property solicitor with developers, and sometimes things can get a little fraught! It does sound like you have misunderstood the process a little.

The first thing is that completion dates are never set in stone until "contracts have been exchanged". This means that the two solicitors acting for each side are holding signed paperwork by their clients, and all prep work has been done. They then have a formal telephone conversation whereby the contracts are Exchanged, and at that point, completion dates are THEN set. In the OP, you said " I was set to complete tomorrow" which unfortunately was not the case. It was only ever a proposed date, it is never set until after exchange. Until that point, either party can pull out.

The second thing is the mortgage. The solicitor is required to give 2 weeks' notice to the lender of the completion date. Until exchange takes place, she couldn't give notice. That's why she said 2 weeks between exchange and completion. Although it is possible as madbengalmum says, to ex and comp on the same day, it is not common.

Is yours the first finished property on the development? You say it's small. I wonder if the recommended solicitor might not have been kept up to speed by the developer's agents. I can't comment on her denying having spoken to you, though! Before any work can start, she would have needed to get your ID, etc.

I'd speak to the solicitor and say "can you just explain the timescale to me, as I had been led to believe we'd have a very quick turnaround on this?" and see what she says. She acts for YOU and your mortgage company, NOT for the developer.

The main thing to take away from this experience is that you should never instruct movers, landscapers, decorators etc until the completion date has been confirmed by the solicitor.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 16:48:23

MyKingdom, It was the same lady as she introduced herself with the same name both times. The property is fully complete and ready to move into and has been since I first viewed it, it just needed my choice of carpet fitting. I've obviously been very naive about chasing things up and how much documentation from me would be involved, if something seems too easier it probably is. What I don't understand is as you've said how she can change it from 2 days to 6 weeks.

Temporaryanonymity Thu 07-Apr-16 16:48:31

I had a similar experience with a "free" solicitor paid for by the developer. There were times where I wondered if she was actually qualified.

pookamoo Thu 07-Apr-16 16:49:50

crushedninjas although that sounds like a great idea in theory, she probably has 100 other properties she's working on at the same time, and will be at the mercy of outside agencies like mortgage companies and local authorities.

Plus, the developer is not the solicitor's client, and therefore cannot put any pressure on her. They can't speak to her if she's acting for the buyer.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 16:52:23

Thanks pookamoo,

It really is a lesson learnt. Mine is the second to be ready and next door is already sold and getting ready to move in, which is the one she's worked on previously. The developer seems to think she's been caught up in the rush of getting things completed before stamp duty increase and completely forgotten about is. He's furious as well and also still thought we were completing tomorrow.

Sootica Thu 07-Apr-16 16:53:53

I can't believe you thought you could complete with no contact from the solicitors! Disappointing but you definitely should have worried when you had heard NOTHING from the solicitor. Has your mortgage offer even been sent to the solicitor?
Sounds like the developer did not pass your details over?

pookamoo Thu 07-Apr-16 16:57:24

Cross posted, OP.

From what you've said, it doesn't sound like she has changed it "from 2 days to 6 weeks". 6 weeks is a pretty quick turnaround for a property transaction. You said she told you that completion "could be delayed but only by a couple of days". She probably meant that the delays in getting the paperwork would only cause a couple of days' delay in completion, but that in any case, it would be 6 weeks' [and two days] time before completion happens.

YANBU to confront her, by the way. The Solicitors Regulation Authority requires solicitors to produce a "Client Care Letter" for ALL new clients upon instruction, and you should have had this when you gave them your ID. They are supposed to get you to sign and return a copy to prove you've had it! That letter sets out who is doing the work for you, the anticipated timescale and how much it is estimated to cost, plus a breakdown of any extra costs. Did they give you a letter like that? If not, then you need to ask them for one or they are in breach of the SRA rules.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 17:02:53

Yes I've received that, it's one of the things I signed when I went in. there was no time scale on it just a very vague statement about how it would depend on the work and how complicated the chain I was in is but no actual timescale.

pookamoo Thu 07-Apr-16 19:23:29

If I were in your shoes, I'd speak to her again, and just ask her for an explanation of the process and where she is up to.

There is a useful flowchart here which sets out the full process for a purchase. I am assuming you are in England or Wales, as the process is different in Scotland.

Hope this helps.

bearbehind Thu 07-Apr-16 19:35:38

All was going well and I was set to complete tomorrow, I'd contacted the solicitors weeks ago to leave my contact number and introduce myself

You introduced yourself to the solicitor a week ago, ie had never had any contact from them before yet thought you'd complete on the property hmm

The problem here is you clearly have no idea whatsoever about what house conveyancing involves or how long it takes so have completely unrealistic expectations.

No solicitor would have said you can complete that quickly if they hadn't had any documentation from you.

Didn't it occur to you that you might need to fill some forms in at the very least?

The 1st April was a Friday, the 5th Tuesday so it hadn't taken 4 days to email - 2 were the weekend.

silvermantela Thu 07-Apr-16 21:41:58

op I think you've had a bit of a bashing both on here and on your other thread - I know you've admitted you've been a bit naive but as a fellow FTB, I think posters who have bought a few houses, and solicitors who deal with this every single day forget how very confusing the whole house buying thing can be when you've never done it before! If you don't have parents willing or able to go through the whole process step by step with you and are one of the first of your friends to buy, it isn't necessarily obvious to you when and how you need to do certain things.

I consider myself to be pretty sensible and sorted but it really is confusing me more than any other 'major life stage' to date! I've also found that sometimes the people that you think are there to help you end up confusing you more than if you'd just done it yourself! e.g. I went for a face to face mortgage appointment to try and get some advice on the best rates, whether it was worth putting more money in for the deposit etc, but firstly he basically said he couldn't give me any advice /influence me at all, it had to be entirely my decision, and then completely confused me by saying I was entitled to some cashback incentive, then half an hour realising I wasn't, and finally did the hard sell on illness/death cover, giving the impression it was compulsory, like insurance. Complete waste of half a days leave - I ended up with exactly the mortgage I'd already thought was the most likely myself, and with various policies I then had to cancel when I'd worked out I didn't need them. Would have been much easier and less straightforward to just do it myself online, and it sounds like a similar thing has happened with you and the developer "helping" you by sorting out the solicitor but confusing the issue with too many people creating a chinese whispers effect.

re your solicitor - you are perfectly entitled to complain if you want, whether you want to do it now or wait and see, up to you. A colleague in work complained about hers recently and the solicitor agreed she'd messed up and refunded everything apart from the search fees. You also have recourse to the legal ombudsman if you're still unhappy, I think.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 23:19:23

Thanks everyone for all the advice,

I've been so organised with everything else with the sale I completely took my eye off the ball here and regret it. With the mortgage I'd done so much research I knew exactly what was happening next and what I needed to do.

To clear a few things up, the developer is paying all of the solicitors fees and the £100 stamp duty, I've already had a survey done. The solicitor had been informed by the developer that I'd be instructing her when he was discussing another matter, the phone call I had with her was to do this, she told me she was already 'on with it' and not to worry about anything she told me at this point that we'd be completing on the 8th and she'd be in touch before to arrange the paperwork and transferring the deposit. I know I should have been more active in chasing her.

LittleBearPad Thu 07-Apr-16 23:31:13

Isn't it possible she meant the 8th of May not April which would be far more likely. Never give notice until you've exchanged.

darbylou Thu 07-Apr-16 23:36:14

She did say the 8th of April and this was last month we had the discussion. Luckily I haven't given my notice already.

MrsLupo Fri 08-Apr-16 02:11:52

How is it not a conflict of interest for the solicitor to be both acting for the buyer and simultaneously the vendor's long-standing 'chosen' solicitor? Who is acting for the vendor/developer? How can you be sure your interests are being adequately represented? I would be more concerned about that than any slippage in the expected timescale.

LittleBearPad Fri 08-Apr-16 08:11:56

Fair enough.

Very good point MrsLupo.

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