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Buying house - what to expect from solicitor

(28 Posts)
ataposaurus Thu 20-Nov-14 10:20:57

We are buying a house privately from acquaintances and made them a verbal offer a few days ago which they accepted. We have instructed our solicitor, who is a family member, my mother in law used him recently to sell her aunt's house and this all went smoothly.

I have not done this before so not sure what to expect. I am just a bit disappointed that we instructed him two days ago and when I called him today it turns out he has not even contacted their solicitors yet. I explained that at present all we have is a verbal contract and we would like a more formal agreement before we get on and organise and pay for surveys etc - we all want to move as quickly as we can. I asked if he could contact them today though felt I was being a bit pushy! Also, he didn't really give me any advice about when to organise a survey so I am not sure whether to get on and do this or wait till have got a draft contract.

Am a complete novice at this so maybe my expectations are unrealistic and I am being very annoying! Would appreciate some advice from any seasoned house buyers or solicitors re what to expect! TIA

wowfudge Thu 20-Nov-14 10:39:41

This would be ringing alarm bells for me. Has he sent you his terms and conditions and a letter of engagement setting out what services he is providing for you to sign your agreement to? I would expect that from a solicitor straightaway once instructed.

Did you contact him informally, e.g. on his home number or personal mobile or via his firm/place of work? Has he given you a fee quote and is he a conveyancer or does he have another specialism?

Your OP doesn't indicated whether he did confirm what action he would take following your call to him.

Either you get things on a more professional footing with him or instruct someone else.

ataposaurus Thu 20-Nov-14 11:02:39

Hi, we contacted him at work, I am expecting to get, and pay for, a professional service! I think conveyancing is his specialism. No we have not had his terms and conditions or letter of engagement yet.

It is early days I suppose. My mother in law (who is more diplomatic than me) is going to ring him this afternoon about the things you mentioned and maybe arrange a face to face meeting next week so we can be clear on our expectations!

I am a bit surprised as parents in law have apparently had no issues with him, so not rushing to change just yet! Thanks for advice.

specialsubject Thu 20-Nov-14 12:17:58

choose another solicitor. You are paying for a service and you should have had the paperwork by now.

don't grovel, you pay.

high streets are full of old family solicitors who expect clients to wait for days or weeks, while they lunch/piss about/bugger off for four weeks at Christmas/go on holiday without paying. These lazy sods stay in business because they are the old family firm.

wowfudge Thu 20-Nov-14 12:50:10

I agree with special - don't bother getting someone else to intervene or organising a meeting: get another solicitor who wants the work to get on with it.

You are the client, he appears to be taking you totally for granted. You would hope that a family member would give you super dooper service, not put you at the back of the queue. If this is how he is at the very beginning of the process, it's a very clear indicator that your purchase is not going to move quickly at all.

You haven't signed anything, you owe him nothing. Save your MIL the bother and embarrassment of contacting him on your behalf.

Theorientcalf Thu 20-Nov-14 17:32:24

Never use a family member. Don't mix the two. Find a decent solicitor, you don't need someone close to home as you can do everything via post and email as we did, it's simple.

Why are you not sure if he's a conveyancer?

You should have had a quote for the work. I can totally recommend my solicitor if you like, she's great, very efficient. Would recommend to anyone.

WantToGoingTo Thu 20-Nov-14 20:44:02

We had a quote setting out all the itemised payments we would have to make at the outset, and had to sign letter of engagement to instruct them. We had a letter in writing from our estate agent signed by them on the date of our offer being verbally accepted to confirm it, which was sent to us, the other side, and both sets of solicitors. I would have expected something in writing regarding your offer at the very least within 2 days, and a quote/letter of engagement from solicitor. I would also be very reluctant to use a family member. We had to push our solicitors a lot to get things done (and they were large national reputable firm) and if it came to that with family it would be more difficult to achieve the outcome that you want.

SoMuchForSubtlety Thu 20-Nov-14 20:55:32

Buying the most expensive asset you'll ever own is not the time to either budget on the little things (like a good solicitor) or to let family obligations / favours shape your decisions. A good solicitor is worth their weight in gold on a house purchase - they find things that may cost you a lot of money in future if not dealt with.

specialsubject Fri 21-Nov-14 10:11:53

yes, but a good solicitor does not necessarily mean an expensive one. The high street ones are expensive and some of them are dreadful.

this one has already proved to be dreadful.

Theorientcalf Fri 21-Nov-14 11:50:03

Our solicitor was recommended by a friend. We've used her twice now and have recommended her to a few people who are equally as happy. I agree that a good one is worth their weight in gold. I couldn't have been happier about the service we got, they made a complicated house process (due to the seller's solicitor) hassle free.

ataposaurus Fri 21-Nov-14 16:39:47

Oh dear - so everyone seems to think solicitor is a bit crap! Am surprised really as had him pegged as quiet, conscientious type, mid forties, oxbridge educated, so not too old and past it hoping for an easy life!
Anyway, after some prompting he has now contacted their solicitor and says he has the other stuff in the post (terms and conditions etc). Not massively impressed so far, but he has done some good work for pil, so will keep going with it...

LittleBearPad Fri 21-Nov-14 16:46:06

I wouldn't stress too much to be honest, the offer was only accepted a few days ago. Conveyancing is slow and tedious regardless of who you use

Will you be mortgaging the property? If so your bank will organise surveys etc as part of your mortgage offer. Do make sure the solicitor you've chosen is approved by your bank though as otherwise this could make the mortgage difficult.

specialsubject Fri 21-Nov-14 17:01:43

I disagree - someone who can't even be bothered to kick off the process is idle and inefficient.

are you really happy to continue to pay someone that YOU have to nag to do their job?

mid-forties doesn't mean he isn't idle and inefficient. Look at our politicians...

LittleBearPad Fri 21-Nov-14 19:03:01

Most conveyancing solicitors aren't going to set the world on fire, that's why they do property law. OP don't assume another one will be better.

wowfudge Fri 21-Nov-14 20:38:55

I've never heard of a solicitor having to be approved by your bank - what on earth does that have to do with them? As long as you have given the solicitor the necessary permission to act on your behalf that should be sufficient.

And there is no need for it to be a slow and tedious process. It's accepting that kind of thing that slows things down.

Spickle Fri 21-Nov-14 20:41:41

I am surprised you haven't had a letter confirming your instruction for the solicitor to act for you.

Do both sets of solicitors know the details, i.e. address of property, sale price of property, your names/addresses and the vendor name/address plus the other solicitor contact details? When these details are to hand, the solicitors send an introductory letter to each other. Without this information, neither solicitor can proceed. Also, the vendor's solicitor has to provide draft contract papers in order for your solicitor to start work. This is the draft Contract, draft Transfer, Fixtures & Fittings list, Property Information form, EPC, and copies of certificates and guarantees which can take a little while to collate.

LittleBearPad Fri 21-Nov-14 21:01:42

When we applied for our mortgage with Nationwide there a moment of concern when the law firm we'd chosen wasn't on their panel. It was only because we'd given the acronym not the full name. I've heard similar about Lloyds. The money lent by the bank is at risk on a property purchase - it's not that surprising they want an approved solicitor involved surely.

Theorientcalf Fri 21-Nov-14 21:03:47

Our solicitor had to be approved by the mortgage company. They had a list of names or something.

ataposaurus Sun 23-Nov-14 08:27:32

Hi, thanks for all the comments. No mention has been made of solicitor needing to be approved by mortgage company - in any case, conveyancing is pretty much what he does so imagine it would not be a problem.

My other issue with the solicitor is he hasn't really given any guidance about stuff like when to get a survey, which I don't know as not done before! I suggested to him we might like to wait to get the survey when we had the sale (subject to survey) agreed more formally than a conversation in the playground, and he seemed to agree but vaguely! Then he mentioned a draft contract so maybe should wait for that, Or perhaos the mortgage company will have their own requirements about survey so should speak to their advisor when we meet?

Spickle Sun 23-Nov-14 09:06:28

Yes, your solicitor has to wait until he receives the draft contract before he can start the work, mentioned above in my earlier post. The paperwork he needs also include the title deeds, draft transfer and various papers that the vendor has to supply. He will also need a copy of your mortgage offer (sent by the mortgage company directly to him). If your solicitor is not on the approved panel of solicitors that the mortgage company deal with, it means that there will be another solicitor acting for the mortgage company and the paperwork is duplicated. However, since you say he does conveyancing most of the time, this will probably not be an issue.

You can get your survey done whenever you want to. Your solicitor does not get involved in this, other than if you want him to raise queries on your behalf once you have the survey to hand. Your mortgage company will want to do a valuation survey - this may mean just a drive by to confirm that the house is worth what they are lending you. You can choose to get a Home Buyer's Survey or a Full Structural Survey which are more detailed. I've always had the Full Structural Survey done, mainly because the houses I've bought are not new(ish) and because I want to protect myself as much as I can on such a large purchase.

Quitelikely Sun 23-Nov-14 09:09:49

What to expect from a solicitor? Absolute shambles! They are slow and never seem concerned about the pace of things! Grrrrr

Theorientcalf Sun 23-Nov-14 09:11:13

Your mortgage company does the basic valuation. If you want something more you'll have to organise it yourself. We went with an independent company for the home buyers report with our last house purchase, with our first house we got a homebuyers report as part of our mortgage deal. Get it done after the valuation.

Your solicitor should know all this and be in contact with you throughout.

Quitelikely Sun 23-Nov-14 09:14:13

Your mortgage company will ask for your solicitors details and they will also contact the other party to go and arrange to carry out a surveyors report.

Your solicitor will get sight of this report incase he needs to raise anything with you. Your lender and you will also receive a copy.

Once this is received and you are happy things usually go from there.

The solicitor will request deeds, carry out searches and agree a completion date with the other solicitors. Now you are better off speaking to your friend directly and agreeing a date between yourselves then telling your respective solicitors what that date is.

Spickle Sun 23-Nov-14 09:15:46

The only paperwork you should have received, having only instructed him two days prior, would be a letter confirming your instructions and information relating to the various stages of conveyancing, what searches etc you need (usually paid for separately) and ID. No other work can be started until the other solicitor supplies paperwork regarding the house you want to buy, which takes a week or two. So this would be the ideal time to sort out survey and mortgage.

Theorientcalf Sun 23-Nov-14 09:18:40

Solicitors aren't slow if you find a good one. Ours was very efficient and always replied to emails. We've never needed a full structural survey, only a home buyers. It's up to you what you chose, a full structural survey costs the most. Depends on the house you're buying and what you need. But your solicitor won't have anything to do with it.

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