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Would you pull out of this sale? Your opinions please (sorry, long)

(22 Posts)
pebbley Thu 17-Feb-05 13:13:29

We're in the middle of trying to sell our house, but it all seems to be going pear-shaped, and we're wondering whether to pull out of the sale.

Background - Bought house in Feb 03, brand new newbuild, nice little 3 bed with garage on a small estate, outskirts of rural market town. Lovely.

July 04 told by dh's work that he is being moved (MOD) put house on market and get offer on it Aug 04, which we accept. Solicitor/estate agent shananigans seem to go on forever (buyer 'lost' their mortgage offer, had to get another etc etc).
Nov 04 we move, advised we would exchange in days. 1 week later buyer pulls out. We're left with empty house 200 miles away to try and sell, new rent and mortgage to pay on just dh's salary (as I no longer have job thanks to move)and a £300 solicitor's bill for non-sale

All went quiet over Xmas and then at end of Jan we get another offer, near to original, which we again accept (getting v broke now what with paying for both places). Cash buyer. All sounds fab.

But.... and this is our dilemma. Buyer's solicitor is being a complete @rse. Paperwork has been going back and forth for 4 weeks, with him requesting all sorts of obscure planning documents (£200 worth for the original estate, we have all docs for the house), insisting we pay all the fees for changing deeds at land-registry (buyer's responsibility), wanting to withold money (£2000) until next part of estate is completed, wanting us to pay for increase in indemnity insurance blah blah blah.

Our solicitors thinks it is all outrageous and completely unnecessary, will increase our bill hugely and also thinks that sale will falter if we say no to any of this stuff. Estate agent agrees with our solicitor and has talked to buyer, who just wants it sorted asap, but won't say anything to her solicitor as he's the 'professional' and 'just doing his job'.... I'm just dreading agreeing to everything, building up more huge bills and then the sale failing anyway.

So do we
1) Get our solicitor to write stroppy letter outlining what we won't accept, and giving deadline for exchange to take place (and if that doesn't happen house goes back on market pronto)

2) Agree to everything even thought we're being fleeced because we desperately need to sell the place.

If you've got this far, well done and thank you. Any thoughts please, or advice from anyone with experience ...

pixiefish Thu 17-Feb-05 13:15:39

number one- it's up to the buyer to tell her solicitor to behave. put house back on the market

amynnixmum Thu 17-Feb-05 13:17:10

Got no experience or professional knowlegde whatsoever but if the people your end think you shouldn't put up with it then I'd get your solicitor to say no to all the extras.

Twiglett Thu 17-Feb-05 13:17:15

number 1

no doubt about it

wouldn't even involve the solicitor

tell the estate agent .. give them a week to sort it out then put the house back on the market

amynnixmum Thu 17-Feb-05 13:17:49

Oh yes and put the house back on the market.

Twiglett Thu 17-Feb-05 13:17:50

giving them a week is being really nice .. give them 48 hours

Pamina3 Thu 17-Feb-05 13:18:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gwenick Thu 17-Feb-05 13:21:20

If there any chance you can talk to the buyers directly (ie with out the solicitor etc etc). We did that when we were having 'problems' buying our last house and it all got sorted out much quicker when we talked to the buyers on the phone and explained things to them,,,,,,,,,,,,,it turned out that BOTH sets of solititors were arsing around!

HunkerMunker Thu 17-Feb-05 13:22:39

We had this with our flat sale/house purchase.

We were doing both through the same estate agent, so when it all started to go pear-shaped (our buyers wanted us to agree to paying for major renovations that were happening to the flats the year after we moved ffs!), I told the estate agent that we were going to pull out of both sale and purchase that day unless they stopped mucking us about and behaved.

Five minutes later, he rang me back and said they were fine with us not paying for these works (which they'd known about from before they made the offer!).

I found that if you just say oh ok and hope you don't lose your buyer, you end up being taken for an idiot. If you get shirty, it can work, as long as you're being reasonable - and it sounds like you really are. Their solicitor sounds like he wants more money for more work - can you point out (via the estate agent) to your buyer that he isn't being very professional, he's trying to get more of her money by dragging it out?

Hugs - it's a stressful time!

pebbley Thu 17-Feb-05 13:34:49

Wow! such quick responses. Thank you I'm glad you all think he's being an @rse too.

Will talk to dh when he gets back from work, and tell him the consensus of mumsnet's considerable wisdom is to go with number 1) and get the house back on the market asap.

I think we will probably give them a week, just because we really need this sale, and if we can get it sorted, then life will be a whole lot easier. I'll also see if we can quickly contact the buyer direct and have a little chat...

Caligula Thu 17-Feb-05 13:36:44

I agree with Gwenick, try and talk to the buyer directly - it's incredible what liars estate agents are, and if you can bypass them, everything will be speeded up.

Freckle Thu 17-Feb-05 13:38:31

Another option, to take the financial pressure off of you, is to speak to your mortgagee and ask if they will give you a payment holiday. Most lenders will allow you to miss an agreed number of monthly payments, especially if they know that a sale is likely to go through and they will recoup all their money in a short period of time. It's worth a try and then you can tell your buyer to go take a giant leap without worrying about how you are going to pay the rent and the mortgage.

Gizmo Thu 17-Feb-05 13:41:21

What a bugger. It's horrible how it makes your blood pressure rise, isn't it?

We've just sold our house, with a similar level of idiocy on the part of buyers/solicitors. Drove me nuts.

Firstly, do you have any idea of the buyer's contact details (for example from the enquiries before contract, perhaps the estate agent might pass them along on the qt?). It worked much more smoothly, IME, when I spoke directly to the buyer and outlined the options (nicely) to him. Ours was a first time buyer and didn't appreciate that they needed to be in the driving seat, otherwise sales just drift along.

Secondly, how long was your house on the market for, second time around? If you've had two offers on, and one in a very quiet period for the property market, then I would say it's got something going for it. My feelings would be, as the others say, you need to get more viewings and (hopefully) more offers to sharpen up your buyers act.

So, if I were in your shoes I would get a list of the standard costs from your solicitor (ie what people normally expect to pay in these transactions) add a small contingency on top that you are prepared to use in negotiations and armed with that, give your buyer a call to have the following conversation:

1) find out what he hopes to achieve by allowing his solicitor to add all these abnormal charges to the transaction. Basically, he is allowing himself to be talked into a situation where he is risking losing this house (and still paying his solicitor's fees) for - what - £500 benefit to him upfront? Perhaps getting him to think about the benefit in those terms might incentivise him to take charge on this topic.

2) Do you have any results from the searches in the previous sale? If so, now might be the time to offer them, and to make the point that these extra searches were not considered necessary in your previous sale, so you have *no intention* of paying for them now.

3) Finally, if you feel that he still isn't going to get the message then I think I would ask him to get his solicitor to generate a full and final list of costs that he thinks will fall to you and is appropriate for this sale. In the next 2 days. Or the house goes back on the market. There is nothing worse than the whole 'death by a thousand cuts' which takes you weeks and you get no further.

Once you have that, then you can decide to either a) pay it (but I would only do so if you have agreed an exchange date in the very near future in return) or b) tell them to take a running jump, the house is going back on the market. Either way, you can bring matters to a conclusion within a week.

Sorry - I think I'm ranting now, but I cannot believe how people just let these things drift along when it's one of the most important financial commitments of your life

Gizmo (who got a bit annoyed with her buyers, can you tell?)

Gwenick Thu 17-Feb-05 13:43:18

phew glad to here that we're not the only people contactly the buyers/sellers directly - made things SO much simpler. Infact when we sold our last house to move to this one we had a private sale and although our buyer used a solicitor he passed everything by us and we always knew EXACTLY where we were in the process.

ixel Thu 17-Feb-05 13:44:35

We're in a similar position now, not knowing whether it it our solicitor or the buyer's one that's lying about things. But ours is definitely lazy (and when we get involved to speed things up, he gets stroppy about too many people being involved). Then again, the buyer's one had told her tons of things to make her panic, until the two of us went for coffee and sorted things out face to face.
If you put the house back on ther market, at least that shows you're not taking any crap, and might spur the buyers into telling their solicitor to pull his or her finger out!

HunkerMunker Thu 17-Feb-05 16:40:18

We contacted our vendors directly when we were buying this house and they were vile to us. Our buyers went on holiday (ffs!) the week we were due to exchange and hadn't signed, our vendors rang us directly to have a go at us.

So it's not always the best option - we knew our vendors were splitting up, but later found out that the police had been called to our house on numerous occasions because he'd beaten her up (with her three children in the house...nice) and we've since heard that he's been banned for drink driving. Charming chap - think I got off very lightly with just a torrent of abuse really!

janeybops Thu 17-Feb-05 16:45:58

Have you considered renting it out?

Sponge Thu 17-Feb-05 16:48:01

I would definitely say no to unreasonable extras and say you'll put the house back on the market.
We did this when we sold our house and it speeded things up immeasurably. You'll probably find that your buyers are also anxious about losing the house - if they've got this far then they want it and they'll have spent money - and tell their solicitor to sort it out.
Also it's in the estate agent's interest to try and make it happen. No sale means no money for them and lots of wasted time so chat them up and try and get them working - after all they're acting on your behalf.

Casmie Thu 17-Feb-05 17:09:18

pebbley - I know it's a gamble, but we had a similar situation with our last sale (in retrospect I think the buyer wanted to delay moving until it was convenient to her, whereas we were perilously close to going bankrupt and buckling under the strain of living apart while dh worked away from home). In the end we just thought "she's taking us for a ride" and told her that contracts had to be exchanged within 48 hours or the house was going back on the market. It was amazing how everything got sorted so much quicker after that... was still horribly stressful, but there was a lot less piss-taking along the way.

Of course, it can also horribly backfire - so it's definitely an "end of your tether" decision.

hub2dee Thu 17-Feb-05 17:19:56

pebbley, might I suggest an alternative 'mid' option ?

You want to sell it fast, either to this seller - if they stop arsing around - or get it back on the market ASAP. Quite possibly the buyer is simply trying to see if s/he can screw you down just a tiny bit more. The property market is not exactly heaving at the mo, so I would see if it is possible to keep this buyer but to negotiate a win / win.

I agree with comments above about talking directly. Your direct communications will save money / time and you can negotiate individual points in minutes rather than weeks through two (possibly) greedy / busy solicitors.

What I'm suggesting is to basically call the buyer's bluff: Say the points they raise are understandable, although the fees and other issues they raise, in your view, are all their problem.

Tell them you want to conclude this sale, or the house will go back onto the market in 48 hours. Tell them to take a running jump about the 2K estate-not-finished malarkey as this has sod-all to do with you. They need to take a view on it, and the incomplete estate is the new buyer's risk.

However, explain that you are reasonable and that you want to get this sorted, and as a gesture knock a certain amount off the sale price - say 1, at a push 2 grand IF THESE OBJECTIONS ARE DROPPED AND THE SALE HAPPENS QUICKLY (hopefully even quicker than any hitherto discussed timescale)

Yes, you may be an extra grand or two down, but you will have clinched the deal, and in your head you could offset any discount against the mortgage costs you're still having to cover).

Agreeing to this buyer's conditions (planning docs, land-reg fees, indemnity insurance etc., plus solictors) would have soon all added up to a grand or two anyway.

pebbley Thu 17-Feb-05 18:16:25

Thank you all so much for all the advice - lots of really helpful suggestions, and it has given us loads to think about. It's our first sale and we weren't sure how quite how to react. At least I feel more in the driving seat now after everything that's been said, rather than rather weakly thinking that maybe we should just agree to everything (I think stress does that!).

Planning to make lots of phonecalls tomorrow and kick arse. Will let you know what happens!

A slightly less-stressed and more empowered pebbley

liseyloo Fri 18-Feb-05 17:53:29

i hope that you have managed to sort things with the house sale. I do conveyancing for a living and would appreciate it if you did not tar us all with the same brush - we are not all greedy fat cats .

Most conveyancing Solicitors charge a fixed fee for conveyancing - i find it unusual that yours doesn't - what part of the country are you in??

The Solicitor who bought the property for you should have copies of all planning permission and buildings regulations etc on file - these are required to be seen on houses that are less than 12 years old - if you have not supplied them the buyers solicitor is entitled to request copies from the local council.

The retention that the solicitor has suggested usually occurs with New Builds where the sewers and roads have not yet been adopted by the council - £2000 is a bit steep - it is usually about £500 and is refunded once the council takes over.

The Buyer however is responsible for the Land Registry fees etc

Hope this helps and good luck with the house sale

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