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House purchase muddle - WWYD?

(13 Posts)
TheMethren Fri 19-Oct-12 23:07:59

Apologies in advance as this will probably become an essay...

After a long search DH and I have finally found a house we both like and had an offer accepted. We are slightly clueless first-time buyers (not young, just haven't been in a position to buy until our early 40s now), but we instructed a solicitor, submitted a mortgage application via a broker, lined up our own surveyor to do a building survey when the mortgage is approved - and thought we were doing OK.


The estate agent contacted us earlier this week to say that our vendors were getting anxious because the mortgage survey hadn't yet taken place, and wanted an update on progress with the mortgage application. Vendors are relocating quite a distance away in 3 weeks and want to exchange before they leave (although we were only made aware of this time-scale in the last week).

Our broker went away on holiday the day after submitting our application, isn't back until next week and isn't answering emails. So I contacted our lender directly, and found out that our broker went on holiday without submitting all of the supporting documentation for our application. So nothing has happened with our application, or will happen until the documents are submitted. I can't submit them myself (I asked), only the broker can do it. I relayed all this to the estate agent, who didn't seem too worried but asked that we keep them updated.

Fast forward to today, when I receive an urgent message from the estate agent - vendors very anxious, want to know why there's been no progress, talking about putting the property back on the market. I speak to the estate agent and we agree that to demonstrate good faith, we will proceed with our own survey before the mortgage is approved. Estate agent asked me to have our surveyor contact him directly, and seemed to think this would be enough to reassure the vendors.

I contact our surveyor, only to find that he is also away until Monday <bangs head repeatedly against wall>. So in order to get things moving I contact another surveyor, recommended by the estate agent, who gives me a quote and says he will speak to the estate agent and email paperwork to me. Great, I thought, all sorted.

The surveyor's paperwork comes through by email late this afternoon - a letter confirming instructions that we need to sign and return with payment before the survey can proceed, and an invoice matching the amount quoted to me over the phone. We intended to return paperwork and payment by post tomorrow so that the survey could be booked on Monday.

Except that all the paperwork refers to a Homebuyers Report, and I made it clear over the phone that we want a full structural survey. Tried emailing the surveyor's office back again to clarify, but by this time it was 5.30pm and, not surprisingly, I've had no response.

So what do we do now? Do we:

A) Stick with the second surveyor, after making it clear that we want a full survey and checking that the quote is correct?


B) Go back to the first surveyor on Monday, given that we haven't signed anything to commit us to the second surveyor and they have mucked up the paperwork?

I would prefer to do B), not least because the first surveyor was cheaper but gave a better impression - but not sure what would be a reasonable course of action.

Also, more generally, what else could/should we be doing to expedite the purchase? We really don't want this to fall through, or to annoy our vendors who seem like really nice people.


(Sorry, that really was long blush)

lambinapram Fri 19-Oct-12 23:15:22

What bank will your mortgage be with? In my experience they will instruct a surveyor and you have to pay for it. Have you checked with the bank that you can instruct your own surveyor?

TheMethren Fri 19-Oct-12 23:20:30

No, we have already checked and our lender will arrange their own survey, but will not allow us to "top up" to a full structural survey. It is an older property which has been extensively renovated, hence the wish for a proper survey rather than just a Homebuyers Report.

kickassangel Fri 19-Oct-12 23:29:26

Generally the mortgage lender will insist on instructing the surveyor for the house value mortgage. You can then request the surveyor to do the house buyers survey and they will charge you extra for this but not as much as getting a different person out will do.

There is no such thing as a full structural survey. Once you have the home buyers report done then you get specialists in to cover any issues, eg roofing damp etc.

Sounds very unprofessional for the broker to go on holiday and have no one in the office to do paperwork and emails etc. if you're just getting a regular high street mortgage I'd sack him and go direct to a lender.

And just cos the vendors advertise the house again doesn't mean they will have any viewings or offers. It is close to impossible that they will get another buyer and get to completion in 3 weeks, they are spouting hot air.

Send a calm response, don't panic. Assure them that you are serious buyers trying to work with them to buy as swiftly as possible, but that you cannot make the legal proceedings go any faster. They can always leave a solicitor to finish the sale after they move, then get themselves sorted, plenty of people do.

wendybird77 Sat 20-Oct-12 00:00:26

Talk to the sellers directly. Nothing you can do this weekend about other people but you can slip a note through the door outlining the issues and give them your number to contact directly. Just reiterate that you've done all you can do and that you want the house to go through as quickly as possible, you really love the house and can't wait to move in, etc. Honestly, these things can take forever and there is so little you can do about it. Pick the surveyor you like and don't get caught up in EA recommendations or pressure. Good luck!

TheMethren Sat 20-Oct-12 00:00:44

Thanks for your response kickassangel.

The lender will be instructing a surveyor for their own survey/valuation, and I had just assumed that we would pay extra for that surveyor to conduct a building survey for us, but we have been told that this is not possible with this lender and we will have to arrange our own.

By "full structural survey" I mean a building survey as opposed to a Homebuyers Report.

Don't get me started on the broker. Sorely tempted to find someone else and start again, but this one is also arranging other insurance-related matters for us that have been set in motion properly, so it would be difficult to pull out at this stage.

I'm trying to stay calm. The problem is that this is London, and insane - almost nothing decent is coming on to the market in this area (that we can afford anyway smile), and what does goes quickly. If they put it back on the market they will get viewings and they will get offers. However we are chain-free and common sense tells me that they aren't going to pull out at this stage because realistically they won't find anyone else who can exchange within the time scale. Actually, I suspect that the re-advertising threat was an estate agent ploy to get us to take some sort of action (and it worked).

I think we will probably go back to the first surveyor on Monday. We haven't signed anything to commit us to the second one, and I had a better vibe from the first one I approached.

And breathe...

TheMethren Sat 20-Oct-12 00:04:48

Thanks wendybird, a note to the sellers is definitely worth considering. They seem really nice and have already done several really considerate things in the course of our dealings. I would hate to think that they think we are stringing them along or not trying to get this through as fast as possible.

VerityClinch Sat 20-Oct-12 20:33:07

I can wholeheartedly recommend our financial advisor who got us from mortgage application to agreement in principle (less than 24 hours) to formal agreement (3 days) to survey (48 hours) to formal offer (24 hours) and exchange (24 hours).

Initial offer to exchange in 3 weeks. We complete next week (a week after exchange).

PM me if you want his details.

discrete Sat 20-Oct-12 21:02:17

I second contacting the vendors directly.

My guess is that their main worry is that you may not be truly committed and that you may pull out just as they are moving away, leaving them with a lot of hassle to put up with from a distance.

MrsPnut Sat 20-Oct-12 21:11:08

Kiss angel, there is such a thing as a full structural survey and it does cost a lot of money. We had one done for our home when we bought it but then it does date back to 1730 with many additions.

I would go with the first surveyor and try to contact the seller directly. I spoke to our seller a few times about the sale and he was many miles away at the time. The house was empty for about a year before we bought it and had been. Rented out before that.

frostyfingers Mon 22-Oct-12 11:00:28

Keep the people whose house you are buying informed - every day if necessary so that they know you mean business and are taking it seriously. There is nothing worse than silence from a buyer to make you have doubts.

TheMethren Mon 22-Oct-12 12:42:17

Thank you for all the advice everyone. Not having done this before, we don't have a feel for what is "normal" at this stage in a house purchase, or what level of communication is expected/wanted. We have sent our vendors a message apologising for the delays and emphasising our commitment to the purchase. Also sorting out surveyors and trying to hurry along the broker, so hopefully we'll get some progress soon.

Gentleness Mon 22-Oct-12 20:21:24

Don't trust the EA to communicate effectively. We were told our vendor was being slow and that they thought it was because her brother was poorly, but gave the clear impression she was just a bit disorganised and ditsy. So we put the pressure on. Turned out her brother had a brain tumour, terminal. We felt awful. She clearly was sympathetic to our timescale (I was 8.5mo pg when we eventually got the keys) but we'd known nothing about how difficult things were for her and that she was still committed to the sale.

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