CaRikey! Questions for soliciters or house-sellers(22 Posts)
We got this form through from buyer's soliciter. It asks questions like "Are any trunk roads planned within 500m of the property?" -- Well, the town council wants a bypass for the city centre, it's been in the pipeline 20 years and still not quite happened, no idea if it qualifies as a trunk road or what the current schedule is for completion, but shouldn't the buyer go ask the council if they're bothered??
And, "Is the house built on land formerly used for waste disposal?" Well, heck, we don't know, but do they want us to do some kind of historical search to find out for sure? Don't the searches undertaken by the buyer's soliciter cover this kind of thing, anyway?
And, "When was the house last rewired?" We can make an educated guess, but no way to be sure. Is that answer good enough?? Anyway, isn't that the sort of thing a surveyor should assess, not the soliciter?
And countless more "stupid" questions that peeved DH, especially.
The thing is, we sold the house last summer, got as far as exchanging contrax, and we never got asked these sorts of far-reaching questions. Questions we can't get definite answers to. Has there been a change in the law that soliciters need to ask these questions now? Have any of you selling house recently been asked these types of questions? Am I right to think it's ok to say, "Not to my knowledge" (built on a landfill), or "Simply unknown but probably after 1975" (wiring)?
That's what we thought, Twiglett! One of the questions on the form is actually answered in the seller's pack sent to the buyer's soliciter already; it's obviously a standard questionaire, that's what made DH think it might be a new requirement for soliciters to ask all these things.
Hi Zebra, we're buying a house at the moment, so I can only really give you a buyers perspective, which I know isn't really what you're looking for! But, TBH, if I found that our solicitor had sent such a form to the vendors, I'd fire them! ie, as far as I'm aware, these are all things that they should be verifying with the local council! (Not relying on or badgering the vendors for) The rewiring I would have thought would be in the surveyors jurisdiction too.
Sounds strange to me. (But, I am new to all of this!)
...further rant....Why are they relying on you to do what THEY are being payed for!!
Ah, bit of a cheek of me, Levanna -- we are doing our own conveyancing on the sale. Which I didn't mention immediately because it might make some soliciters who look at this thread feel shirty towards us. Well, we did it successfully enough last summer... Even got told by the buyer's soliciter then that we had been entirely professional about it (but they *were* trying to butter us up, at the time). I think even if we had a soliciter now they would still have to pass the form to us, but at least then they would have the professional experience to advise "Just answer it best as you can!" Which I think is all we can do.
DH thinks soliciters are a funny lot; all legalese in letters and then very vague and not-bothered-sounding on the phone.
Haha, don't blame you! If we were knowledgeable enough to do it on our purchase I'm sure we'd save ourselves a lot of time (and legalese and vaguenes - think I agree with your DH ) Have to admit, I've been shadowing our solicitors work with my own checks via internet of local area, etc , but that's quite a different matter than expecting the vendors or their solicitors (or the vendors if they *are* their solicitors!) to do the work for our solicitor (think I'd better shut up, I'm confusing myself!!) Still find it odd that buyers solicitors aren't checking all this out for themselves, I know our solicitors go to local planning offices of councils to check this sort of stuff out.
Good luck with the sale, and much admiration for cutting out the solicitors.
Actually, on buying we will use a soliciter (well, we intend to, if we ever get an offer accepted, and all that!). I think there's a lot more to getting it "right" when buying then when selling. maybe I'll change our minds... doing our conveyancing was a headache, but we've already had a successful run-through on this house... It also means we understand the whole conveyancing process much better than we ever might have otherwise. Until this form came through with its zillion odd questions!
I hope nobody minds me saying this but I have worked in one of the "Big 5" law firms in the country in the professional indemnity unit. Most of the claims were related to conveyancing matters. So much can go wrong and in my opinion a lawyer is worth their weight in gold if it means something important is uncovered or contracts were misinterpreted. If I were looking to cut costs on house moving it would be on estate agents who charge upwards of 1% of the sale price for a service which carries no legal responsibility at all. I would happily pay a lawyer to answer all the questions and draft contracts for me. After all he/she is the expert. I sure as heck wouldn't pull my own teeth or perform an operation. Hope it all goes well anyway.
That's ok, Jampot. I don't mind you saying. Can't tell you how much more informed I feel for doing our conveyancing on the sale of our house, though.
Um... presumably most of the cases your firm deals with were originally dealt with by professionally qualified conveyancers, though, right? So therefore, the claims almost entirely have to do with work done by people who should have been qualified to get it right, but didn't get it right? Maybe a careful individual who is self-motivated to get it right (precisely because I am acutely aware I don't haven't been trained to deal with every facet of what can go wrong, and I don't have the personal liability insurance, so it would cost me too much to get it wrong) has a certain advantage here?
Just a thought.
zebra we are selling our flat (using solicitor) and received what sounds like a very similar form from our own solicitor, but they said that where we didn't know the answer it was perfectly OK to put don't know. IF they then think it's important they will go find out themsleves. you just have to bereally careful about not putting any misleading information as they could come back and sue you for any loss in value this caused.
We had forms like this to fill in when we sold last year and when we bought we received a copy of a similar form from the vendors. Lots of questions about disputes with neighbours and then another load of forms about whether you're leaving the door handles behind.
These questions are there for a reason. You will be asked to answer them because you may know the answer or be in a better position to answer than the solicitor. *You* are selling your property, not the solicitor (in the case where you are using one) and therefore *you* are responsible for the veracity of the answers (but the solicitor would also be in the firing line if it turned out that he/she hadn't asked you). If you deliberately mislead the purchasers by putting an answer you know to be untrue, then you can be responsible for any losses suffered by the purchaser. And I wouldn't rely on not giving them your new address. Such things can be easily discovered.
Certainly, much of what you have described will be shown on a local search. If you genuinely do not know the answer, then just put that. Do you have the paperwork relating to when you purchased the property? Some of the information might be found in there. It might be advisable to look before you answer too vaguely as that could be construed as misleading - the purchaser's solicitor might assume that you read the paperwork when you purchased and therefore are in possession of that knowledge.
Have you had the property rewired? If not simply state that it was done prior to you purchasing the property and leave it at that.
"Not to my/our knowledge. Please refer to the council" would suffice for the planning type questions.
I've used answers like this on conveyancing forms before.
Thanks for the book tip, Robinw -- I think that will be helpful!
And thanks everyone, interesting how variable soliciters are in the questions they ask. Maybe that's one reason Jampot's firm gets so many cases in this area!
I was under impression that if you need a mortgage the lender will require you to use a soliciter for nearly all the conveyancing work on the purchase, which is fair enough given it's their risk, too. That's another reason I don't think we'd do that side of it.
Honestly, I am convinced our soliciter didn't ask these questions when we bought the property. Anyway, we were going to be completely cagey and yet honest in our answers: things like, "We don't know!" where appropriate, etc.
If you need a mortgage, the lender will use a solicitor. In many cases, where the purchasers are using solicitors, the lender is happy for the same solicitors to do their work too (some have been known to insist on different solicitors acting for them). If you are doing your own conveyancing on the purchase, the lender will simply instruct their own solicitor, although you will get landed with the bill.
If you have a mortgage on your current property, you may encounter problems in getting hold of the title deeds. Many mortgagees are not happy to release deeds to anyone other than a solicitor or similar. Have you checked this out? If you can get hold of the deeds, check out what questions were asked when you purchased and what answers were given. Most solicitors will keep all relevant paperwork with the actual Land Certificate, so this should come to you from the lender. If previous questionnaire is not with the deeds, you are entitled to request this from the solicitor who acted for you at the time. You may find everything is there for you (subject to anything which has changed in the interim). You may not recall your solicitor asking similar questions, but I suspect he/she probably did - even if only to cover their own back ;o)
Thanks for the clarification, Freckle; I know some people would do their own conveyancing even though they also had to pay the lender's soliciter to do it, too -- I suppose the big advantage in that is putting pressure on the lender's soliciter to make sure it's done right!
We do have the deeds to our house in a safety box at the bank. Not that I'm totally chuffed about it -- it's not even fireproof, for instance! Maybe we should have coughed up for a fireproof safe in the house (we have a fireproof safe for computer backups, but it wasn't big enough). Nationwide were good about letting us have the deeds -- yes, we had paid off our mortgage completely.
My sister and her partner have recently had a questionnaire which asks things such as 'Have you ever been burgled?' and then further details if you have. They got it the day before they were due to exchange so weren't happy.
I'm glad we used a solicitor for our conveyancing. We weren't selling our then home but the mortgage document had a clause in about repayment of mortgage on that place. Fortunately he spotted it and was able to get it corrected.
Nothing was said about whether the Sykeses made a loss because their purchasers knew about the history (and therefore insisted that the property was devalued) or whether they sold without disclosing the history themselves. It will be interesting to see what array of convoluted questions start appearing on pre-contract enquiries from now on
Some of their questions are so daft. Does the gutter drain go into the foul water drain in the street or a different fresh water drain. We have no idea or interest, in 30 years living there that never mattered. Put "don't know" and they come back saying that not good enough. I am sure there are records they can access, not that their buyer will care a flying kick. Then they come back saying "title deeds show you living a different address 30 years ago when you bought the house, you must explain the discrepancy". Well DURR we weren't yet living at the house then, obvs. That was the previous house. Finally "are you in negative equity" (answer would be no, but it seemed wrong to ask so checked : our lawyer said, no right to ask that none of their rightful business so refuse to answer; there was no come back). And "provide a copy of your present house insurance". We refused, just because it's private and they have no right (we had attested no special conditions and never been refused), no comeback on that. They are just cheeky and try it on. So impertinent. "are you leaving the soapdish" was on the form. Wow. For all this nonsense, a friend found their funds went through when buying a house and they were legally the owner, but on arriving with all their stuff in a huge lorry, the occupant refused to move out saying the solicitor next in chain hadn't done their stuff and they didn't own their next house. Friend left in a stew, called both solicitors, piously they washed their hands of the matter (apparently this situation is not uncommon), police can't help, YOU are left panickily paying a supplement for overtime to removal men and paying a premium to put your stuff in storage, then you find a hotel for TWO MONTHS until the stubborn occupant of the house YOU legally own, finally moves out and stops squatting in YOUR NEW HOUSE. So what is the point of lawyers and their Dickensian myriad of silly nit-picking questions, if they can't sort THAT out when it happens "on the ground" ?
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