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Would you ignore solicitors advice?

(37 Posts)
ClarkL Wed 16-Nov-16 11:53:06

Help! We appear to have had none stop issues with house purchasing and I really can't tell if I just have blinkers on now to force the purchase or if there may actually be an issue.
Firstly I should say I have concerns about our solicitor. She is never available on the phone when you call, can never get a time for her to call you back, sometimes it's within an hour sometimes the next day which is really tricky with work so I tend to email her.
She takes a day to reply to emails and continually speaks in 'solicitors' speak, which annoys me, If I understood what she was talking about I wouldnt need her, I'd be handling the purchase myself, so again I know I aready dislike her which may be clouding my thoughts.
So the property we are buying is not registered with land registry. Our solicitor has said she would charge us £300 to register, plus the land registry costs (£270) but there is no guarentee we'll get it registered and there are risks, many risks, financial risks and risks around not getting full title (I have no idea what that means)
Yesterday my husband spoke with her, she told him it was a terrible thing and we must make the sellers register it first even if it takes months. Yet everything I have read online suggests this is a really common issue and we can take out indemnity insurance to help with any legal costs if it becomes complex.
Husband says he wants to pull out because he doesnt understand the risks, but shes told him there are risks.
I say she has to talk to their solicitor see if they are willing to register and we can meet them part way on the costs. Our mortgage offer is valid for 5 months and we are currently in a rental so we aren't in a huge rush. I call the estate agents to inform them.
Today estate agent phones sellers solicitor to ask what they think, turns out my solicitor hasn't even bothered contacting them yet despite me emailing instructions yesterday lunch.
My gut instinct is I sack our solicitor, write off the money we've paid her and get someone new to handle the sale and agree to registering the property after purchase.
Does my solicitor have a point, if the title deeds are correct (which would be her job to check) that really what is this blummin risk she's whittling about because quite frankly I don't get it. Deeds used to be paper, now they are electronic and there's a few paper ones not yet converted it all seems straight forward and logical to me.

PurpleDaisies Wed 16-Nov-16 11:59:56

To be honest, I think you've got slightly unrealistic expectations for how quickly solicitors usually respond to queries. I don't think it's unusual or unacceptable for them to get back to you the next day-you aren't their only client.

Their job is to minimise at risk to you-surely its good they're doing their job rather than exposing you to problems later?

I hope you get the issues resolved.

Jackiebrambles Wed 16-Nov-16 12:02:35

All conveyancing solicitors are pretty slow. I think they have masses of cases.

I've bought twice (and sold once) and every time the solicitors were bloody frustrating - so it goes with the territory!

You could of course move to another but you might find they are no better to be honest.

ClarkL Wed 16-Nov-16 12:07:42

I guess my issue is I have no idea what the risk is because she won't explain it. I find myself googling everything she says - I don't think I'm particularly stupid!

I agree that im not her only client, but it would certainly help if her PA could say when she would phone me so we could arrange a convenient time for both of us, that way I wouldnt have to rely on email, of which she doesnt respond to in a timely fashion and half the time doesnt answer what I have asked her, so I reply then wait a day for her to respond and miss out half of what ive asked or reply in a way that isnt helpful.
Eg. Her. The property isnt regstered
Me: With who, what does that mean
Her: With land registry
Me: Ok, what does that mean
Her: There's risks and an increase in costs
Me: What risks, please confirm costs
Her: £300 plus land registry
Me: Ok and what risks
Her: Not full title deed
Me: What does that mean????? (this was the point my husband phoned as it has taken us 5 days to get to this point and she just confused him on the phone with telling him it's a risk)
So because I was fed up of the back and fore told her to ask them to register and we'd cover costs. She hasn't done that.

PotteringAlong Wed 16-Nov-16 12:09:12

I also wouldn't go against their advice. If they are saying don't buy unless it's registered then I wouldn't buy.

LIZS Wed 16-Nov-16 12:12:40

Surely it means the vendor have no registered proof that they own and therefore can sell the property. Make it their problem and no you shouldn't pay for their oversight. I'd be surprised if your lender would proceed with a mortgage until it is formally done. They'd encounter the same issue with any other buyer. Are you FTB, you don't seem very clued up yet are willing to go against legal advice confused

MrsNuckyThompson Wed 16-Nov-16 12:13:25

We bought a house which was not registered. We are both solicitors (tho not conveyancers thank god!!) and although we didn't think we got a particularly 'wow' service, we did ultimately take the advice and make the sellers register.

The major risk to you, of course, is that if there is a major problem with the registration (for example, the old deeds are unclear on boundary lines leading to a major dispute) you might end up having bought an unregistered property and have legal hassles to boot. At some point, it might be better to walk away from the property than have this headache. You can't do that if you own it!!

Also it can be hard for mortgage providers to agree to lend on unregistered property.

I'd take her advice and then not use her again - she is probably doing a good enough job technically but NOT doing a good job of communicating with her clients.

halfdoneharris Wed 16-Nov-16 12:13:39

Registering property with the land registry can be a bit of a faff, and maybe it is something she doesn't do very often. There are risks buying a property that hasn't been registered as all the documents are held separately (deeds, confirmation about who may have rights over the land by easements or restrictive covenants, an outstanding mortgage on the property etc), so until she has looked into it she doesn't know if there is a problem for you. I would pay her the money to register it if you are happy buying the property.
An hour or a 1 day turn-around isn't too bad for a conveyancing solicitor, she will have plenty of our files to sort through...
Read up about registering for the first time on this website, it may help to understand some of the legal terms that she is using.
www.gov.uk/registering-land-or-property-with-land-registry/register-for-the-first-time

Shurelyshomemistake Wed 16-Nov-16 12:14:44

Does the vendor have the title deeds ?

If you're not happy with the Sol, by all means get a new one, but she is really only doing what you're paying her to do: that is, not take avoidable risks. It would be better if the vendor registered the property, especially if they don't have the title deeds.

You might have mortgage issues if there is no title/ registration/ indemnity policy in place.

Shurelyshomemistake Wed 16-Nov-16 12:16:10

"advising you to not take avoidable risks" that should have read.

wooooofudge Wed 16-Nov-16 12:21:44

I think you have unrealistic expectations of the service your solicitor should be providing you with. You are not her only client, I guarantee it. She is responding to you and she is getting back to you within 24 hours. When you can't speak to her or get an instant reply, it's because she is working on another client's file.

If the property is not registered then there won't be electronic documents available - there will be an old fashioned paper deed pack. She is simply telling you that you will be taking more of a risk if the property is transferred to you before it is registered. Better for the seller to register it first them sell it to you. But it takes longer.

If the solicitor thinks anything is in doubt them it's better for the seller to take the risk and have to register it first. I think you jumped the gun getting the EA to phone the other solicitor - you need to be more patient and give your solicitor time to do her job.

Land law, which is the area of law governing buying and selling property, is highly technical - if you don't understand what the solicitor is telling you, ask her to explain so that you do. She is working as your advisor, but you need to take the decisions - she can't make them for you.

Bluntness100 Wed 16-Nov-16 12:24:04

I think your solicitor is correct. We also had a problem with the land registry and it did take a couple of months to resolve, not just because of the registration but also their solicitors, uoure solicitors , neighbours solicitors etc all hav e to review.

I think uour desire for the property and you're dislike of the solicitor is clouding uour judgement, any other solicitor worth their salt will do as she is doing. Sure she's a shit communicator, but funamentqlly she is 100 percent correct, the seller has to register the property, and be sure of exactly what they are selling, at this stage, you have no clue what you're buying, you might find it's a whole lot less than is being put forward and it may cause future sales to be difficult or give uou a major financial loss.

The only difference I would have with her is I would have the seller register, not uou, and if they refused I would pull out. Do not in any circumstances buy a property that is unregistered.

BumbleNova Wed 16-Nov-16 12:24:18

she is probably handling hundreds of cases and you have stated you dont like her. she has probably noticed. I would put money on the fact your attitude has put you bottom of the list. no one likes rude clients.

I think you are being a bit difficult, and she has actually responded pretty quickly. I think the issue she has been trying to highlight is that the property is on "unregistered land" i.e. it has not changed hands since formal registration was introduced.

there are currently no records at the land registry of your property which means what it says on the tin - they will need to gather all records in relation to your property and send them to the land registry. this means old maps and all deeds they can find. there is a risk that something is missing from those documents.

I suggest you have a read of this which explains the process www.inbrief.co.uk/land-law/registering-unregistered-land/

she is talking about the risk of you not being granted "absolute title". all of this was easy to find on google.

so um yeah - your solicitor is correct and you are being very unreasonable.

TwitterQueen1 Wed 16-Nov-16 12:27:11

I too think you have unreasonable expectations of your solicitor. And bear in mind that you will be charged for every email / phone you send / make, so it pays to be patient. There is no rush here.

And (I'm not an expert) there is no way I would buy a property that isn't registered. If it's not registered, you don't know what you are buying - where the boundaries are, who owns what fences, how much land you have - whether the house is even the property of the vendors!

The vendors must register it and pay all costs themselves before you should even think about buying it.

wooooofudge Wed 16-Nov-16 12:30:46

TwitterQueen it is normal to agree a fixed fee for the solicitor's work on the conveyance so the OP is unlikely to be being charged for every call, email, etc. I don't think I would buy an unregistered house, but if the vendor registered it and then transferred it, I wouldn't have a problem.

ClarkL Wed 16-Nov-16 12:33:06

LIZS I am a first time buyer so perhaps my expectations are a bit high, however our seller does have a route of title, the paper deeds from when they purchased the property 30 plus years ago.

MrsNucky Thank you! You have actually explained it in a way I understand, I also agree about her maybe being technically ok but her customer service is appalling and actually it isn't ok. I made no secret I was a first time buyer (although the same solicitor is selling a house for my husband that she is dragging her heels about) and did not know the process or legal jargon.
Our estate agent has actually had to decode and explain things to me that the solicitor has said and I haven't understood. I know that the estate agents handling the sale of my husbands home are equally frustrated with her

I think I will ask her to stop on the purchase of the property, cut my losses on what we have paid and look for a solicitor that speaks to me in a way I understand. They may say the same thing and that's fine, but I do agree my dislike for her is clouding my judgement

JaneAustinAllegro Wed 16-Nov-16 12:44:43

Compulsory registration of properties didn't come in until 1990. If you can find an older solicitor with experience of the unregistered system, switch horses now (ask if there's someone in the firm).

People bought and sold unregistered quite happily for many years adn the lack of registration isn't itself a problem. You will buy but it will be up to the Land Registry to assess what you've bought. We bought from someone who had first registration. WHat they didn't notice is that when it was registered after their purchase, they were not given a right of way over teh only (unregistered) access road. It caused them issues (time delays) when they sold to us, and we made them buy an indemnity insurance policy to cover the access issue.

Your solicitor should be advising you what kind of indemnity policies are avaailble to you in the event of registration not covering what you expect.

What sort of property is it? are the neighbouring properties registered? SHe should have done an index map search which would show that, or you can do it yourself. I would suggest if there are neighbouring registered properties, there will be fewer issues than if you are buying an unregistered plot (possibly made up of a number of different unregistered titles - eg ours has one for the ditches, another for the hedges) that's in the middle of a load of other unregistered titles as the solicitor won't be able to see what rights of way etc ARE registered.

Essentially, it shouldn't be an issue for an experienced solicitor and I don't think that suggestions that lenders would find it an issue are correct.. They've lent for hundreds of years on unregistered land, it's only in the last 20 that it has become more of an anomaly.

ClarkL Wed 16-Nov-16 12:54:51

Jane Hi, it's a detached bungalow. House to one side was sold in 2000 so would be registered, the house on the other side is for sale, the field behind the house I am looking to buy belongs to the house for sale so essentially there are just 2 neighbours.

I have just got off the phone to a local solicitor.
Our current solicitor is based in the south, because that's where the house we've sold is and we currently live in Lincolnshire.
The local solicitor has advised there is a 6 month delay with land registry for registering which is why sellers here don't do it first, they have quoted us to handle the sale and registering the property and come in around £1,000 less than our current solicitor in fees. I'm going to speak to my husband tonight about moving firms for the purchase, (the sale of the other property exchanges and completes in 2 weeks, cash buyer, vacant property and it's taken 14 weeks so far...) so we will keep with her for that part only.
I will take on board comments about solicitors taking their time to reply and be more patient

JaneAustinAllegro Wed 16-Nov-16 13:01:03

There's some value in going with someone who knows the area the property is in and knows the local registry so can pick up the phone and have a good discussion if they see issues with the registration.

Do you know if your plot is currently one title or several unregistered titles? your solicitor should order up copies of the neighbouring houses as there will be good clues in there (particularly if they were carved out of the same large plot of land as yours originally, which from your description is quite likely - ie the root documents will at some point be the same so if there are wierd horrors in their title, they may apply to yours but if their titles are relatively clean, likely yours will be too).

Indemnity insurance is your friend in all of this - policies not normally terribly expensive but in this case the SELLER should obtain and pay for the policies which will cover you and anyone you ever sell to - your solicitor shoudl advise on this.

I'd probably be asking the woman who's currently advising you whether there is anyone in her firm with more experience in unregistered conveyancing and shift to them rather than starting from scratch, and otherwise ask the estate agent who they recommend locally for unregistered conveyancing - they will know

Don't be spooked by it, but don't pay for a rude service from someone who's not giving you value.

Kidnapped Wed 16-Nov-16 13:10:13

We bought an unregistered house last year. It can be quite common with rural properties that tend to stay in the hands of one family for a long time.

Like you, the owners had the title deeds and so it was very straightforward. Are you aware of any parcels of land changing hands in the last 30 years? Or do the current deeds reflect the situation on the ground now? If so, there is unlikely to be a problem.

We looked at the deeds online of all neighbouring properties (they cost about £6 each I think) and matched up the plans. The 'missing bit' matched exactly what was on the ground and what we thought we were buying.

We were happy to go ahead on that basis. It went through no problem and we got the full title about 3 months later.

I don't even think there was any charge from our solicitor for handling an unregistered property. Just the normal Land Registry fee of £270.

Shurelyshomemistake Wed 16-Nov-16 13:20:47

If the vendor has the deeds I think it's more straightforward. Agree a more local, knowledgeable sol sounds like the way to go for the purchase.

Shurelyshomemistake Wed 16-Nov-16 13:21:48

Conversely, my friends bought a house with no deeds and not registered with land registry. This turned out to be not a simple issue to fix. Luckily they had tons of money to throw at it but not something I'd want to grapple with.

TwitterQueen1 Wed 16-Nov-16 14:57:15

Woo Yes of course - you're quite right. It's the memory of an awful divorce process that is skewing my memory here... angry

Bluntness100 Wed 16-Nov-16 15:04:04

The issue is uou can own the house, i.e. Have the title deeds, but not the land the house sits on or the firld you wish to buy, as such uou could buy and then it's not agreed and you've paid for nothing and could have a huge financial loss. The person who does own the land could charge you rent, or refuse to let you sell.

It could be fine, yes, but it's s risk. Change your solicitor if uou wish, although you may find the same with the next one,

Unless uou are a cash buyer it normally will invalidate your mortgage offer too, mortgage companies don't like this risk, they will keep the offer open for x time but will seldom proceed with a sale where the land is not registered.

wooooofudge Wed 16-Nov-16 16:07:15

Bluntness - not sure this helps the OP: you can own the building, but not the land whether it's registered or not. There could be a rentcharge. We don't know what the OP is buying.

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