Do conveyancers *try* to create animosity?

(45 Posts)
BuyingWoes Fri 11-Jun-21 22:49:00

All through the buying process, the sellers' solicitor has been really difficult. We got no responses to enquiries for two weeks, only a third of them were answered, and when our solicitor asked for responses to the ones that had not yet been answered, he outright refused to answer a number of them, and would not give straight answers to others. The seller is also refusing to respond to any "further" enquiries (i.e. ones that were already there, but they didn't answer the first time), and we are wondering if that is because their solicitor told them not to bother.

We don't know how much of the difficulty is coming from the solicitor vs. the sellers, but we are certainly sensing a lot of bad feeling, and based on the, frankly rude, responses from their solicitor, we are wondering if it's all down to the interactions of the solicitors. We're supposed to be exchanging next week and completing right at the end of June, and yesterday our solicitor asked theirs to make a simple amendment to the contract to protect us financially in case of the sellers not completing on the agreed date. The sellers' solicitor replied at the end of the day today, with a very rude email, saying that they do not agree to that. It turns out he may not have even put it to the seller! If they don't agree then we feel we will have no option but to walk away, because this is really the last straw following a string of unreasonable behaviour, and we have made a lot of concessions in this process that others might not, including pushing the completion date back at their request. (We are cash buyers, so have a bit more leniency with some things, but I'm tempted to just get a mortgage next time so that sellers have to take potential problems seriously).

I can't help feeling like this process would have been a lot simpler if we had discussed most of these things between ourselves first (sellers and buyers), and then sent everything through the solicitors afterwards to have it all down in the legal documentation. Having solicitors trying to score points against each other just creates a feeling that the sellers are unreasonable people, and I expect they are thinking the same of us. The estate agent has hammered into both us and the sellers that we should not communicate directly with each other about any conveyancing matters, but frankly I think the sale may fall through if we don't, because their solicitor seems to be trying to obstruct what should be a simple process (no chain on either end).

Have others experienced this? What is their solicitor trying to achieve by behaving like this? Has anyone had a better experience by communicating with the sellers directly?

OP’s posts: |
LawnFever Fri 11-Jun-21 22:53:13

If their solicitors are being so bloody ridiculous can you pass a message to the sellers via the estate agent asking what on earth is going on, list out what they’re refusing to answer and say if you don’t get it all rectified by a certain date you’ll be pulling out.

There’s no need for them to be so obstructive.

2019user44 Fri 11-Jun-21 22:53:37

OP I would suggest letting the estate agent know what the problems have been and get them to intervene. this is the kind of thing they are paid for and they will not want to lose the sale

DelphiniumBlue Fri 11-Jun-21 22:59:03

Just wondering how and why your solicitor has asked for the standard, nationally agreed contract terms to be varied. You are calling it simple, but the standard contract is normally thought to be adequate to protect both parties. It may be that the sellers solicitors see this request as unnecessary and even as a delaying tactic, hence a brusque reply.
As suggested, get the agents involved to iron out any problems.

coffeequeenindevon Fri 11-Jun-21 23:08:46

I was going to start exactly this thread tonight but from the other side - we are selling (no onward purchase) and are really struggling with the messaging from our buyers’ solicitor. Today, for example, our buyers sent an email to the EA saying ‘The CoffeeQueenInDevons only returned disclosure last Friday’. This is nonsense. We sent all of our docs in April and have email evidence our solicitor sent them on immediately. We then had radio silence from the buyers until last Friday and turned around the enquiries with our solicitor immediately. Seems to be the solicitor making stuff up and just causing grief.

Generally, it’s been amazing how combative the whole thing has been. It’s really added to the stress.

NoSquirrels Fri 11-Jun-21 23:09:58

You haven’t said what the aggravating issues are - what you’ve agreed to, what they’re not answering etc.

You absolutely can communicate on matters between yourselves- no idea why the estate agent says otherwise. You can’t just agree things don’t matter, though. The solicitors have a duty towards due diligence, raising matters of concern, getting the legal elements in place so that if you decided (or the other parties) that something had gone wrong/something big come to light post sale, that they’ve fulfilled their obligations and everyone was informed. They don’t want to be sued! So whilst you can agree between yourselves you don’t care about certain issues the solicitors will still require evidence they’ve done everything.

Are you FTB? This all just sounds pretty standard to me - response times, queries unanswered and needing to be asked again etc.

NoIdontwanttoseeyourknob Fri 11-Jun-21 23:11:26

Definitely talk to the estate agent, they want the sale to complete so that they get paid! When I bought my first house my solicitor, recommended by the agent, was an utter arsehole who just refused to make progress. I found out my sellers had moved out in desperation and I was still on a friend’s sofa! No amount of pleading from me would get the fucker to do any work - and I was paying him! The estate agent put a rocket under him in the end. He’d recommended him so had lost a lot of face.

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Hawkins001 Fri 11-Jun-21 23:17:48

BuyingWoes

All through the buying process, the sellers' solicitor has been really difficult. We got no responses to enquiries for two weeks, only a third of them were answered, and when our solicitor asked for responses to the ones that had not yet been answered, he outright refused to answer a number of them, and would not give straight answers to others. The seller is also refusing to respond to any "further" enquiries (i.e. ones that were already there, but they didn't answer the first time), and we are wondering if that is because their solicitor told them not to bother.

We don't know how much of the difficulty is coming from the solicitor vs. the sellers, but we are certainly sensing a lot of bad feeling, and based on the, frankly rude, responses from their solicitor, we are wondering if it's all down to the interactions of the solicitors. We're supposed to be exchanging next week and completing right at the end of June, and yesterday our solicitor asked theirs to make a simple amendment to the contract to protect us financially in case of the sellers not completing on the agreed date. The sellers' solicitor replied at the end of the day today, with a very rude email, saying that they do not agree to that. It turns out he may not have even put it to the seller! If they don't agree then we feel we will have no option but to walk away, because this is really the last straw following a string of unreasonable behaviour, and we have made a lot of concessions in this process that others might not, including pushing the completion date back at their request. (We are cash buyers, so have a bit more leniency with some things, but I'm tempted to just get a mortgage next time so that sellers have to take potential problems seriously).

I can't help feeling like this process would have been a lot simpler if we had discussed most of these things between ourselves first (sellers and buyers), and then sent everything through the solicitors afterwards to have it all down in the legal documentation. Having solicitors trying to score points against each other just creates a feeling that the sellers are unreasonable people, and I expect they are thinking the same of us. The estate agent has hammered into both us and the sellers that we should not communicate directly with each other about any conveyancing matters, but frankly I think the sale may fall through if we don't, because their solicitor seems to be trying to obstruct what should be a simple process (no chain on either end).

Have others experienced this? What is their solicitor trying to achieve by behaving like this? Has anyone had a better experience by communicating with the sellers directly?

Sounds very fishy, almost like the other side has lots to hide.

BuyingWoes Fri 11-Jun-21 23:23:45

@NoSquirrels Their solicitor has been refusing to even pass on some enquiries (where they weren't answered adequately), so their solicitor is actually preventing ours from doing proper due diligence. The reason I'd prefer to bypass the solicitors, at least in the first instance, is because then we could ask the sellers to send through the things that their solicitor is obstructing, and have amicable dialogue that gets us the answers we need quickly, without endless back-and-forth while the solicitor mis-communicates our questions, or refuses to answer them. I would still want everything to go through the solicitors eventually, but I think it would be a darn sight quicker if we weren't having to send every question and clarification through them, especially as their solicitor seems to be doing everything in his power to obstruct clear communication. If their solicitor is refusing to engage with enquiries, what is ours to do?

OP’s posts: |
BuyingWoes Fri 11-Jun-21 23:33:11

@Hawkins001 Exactly! We said to the EA today that this kind of evasive behaviour from the sellers/their solicitor is putting us off the house far more than any minor defects that came to light might have done. We said that we are at the end of our tether, and that we will walk if this isn't sorted properly. I will be very sad if that is the way it ends up going, because we've had months of continuous anxiety over this, and spent £1000s in fees. But all of this has made me feel pretty depressed about the whole purchase.

OP’s posts: |
PickAChew Fri 11-Jun-21 23:37:56

I'm increasingly of the opinion that conveyancing doesn't attract anyone who takes pride in a job well done. Like with PPs, it was the EA that kept things moving when we bought this house. Difficult vendors using a shitty online conveyancing farm that never answered the phone. Not helped by our own solicitor working very odd part time hours and suddenly remembering things they should have done over a week ago.

DH has to sell his parents' house a year later and the solicitor he got couldn't even direct him to to the correct office when they asked for documents - and were somehow unable to transfer them to the correct office a mile away. That ended up being a 2 week delay in a simple no chain sale.

Hawkins001 Sat 12-Jun-21 00:06:38

BuyingWoes

*@Hawkins001* Exactly! We said to the EA today that this kind of evasive behaviour from the sellers/their solicitor is putting us off the house far more than any minor defects that came to light might have done. We said that we are at the end of our tether, and that we will walk if this isn't sorted properly. I will be very sad if that is the way it ends up going, because we've had months of continuous anxiety over this, and spent £1000s in fees. But all of this has made me feel pretty depressed about the whole purchase.

Completely understanding, better to have a detailed report rather than lots of gsps, then for argument sake, you brought the place only then to be stuck with a bag of pickles so to speak.

NoIdontwanttoseeyourknob Sat 12-Jun-21 07:59:57

Have you talked it through with your own solicitor? I had an issue with a seller who just couldn’t answer a lot of the questions, she has been widowed (hence moving) and was of the generation where the man took care of things like certificates and building permissions. My solicitor gave good advice on how serious the gaps were - basically although I had no paperwork for things like the replacement windows or the boiler my solicitor was confident that all the basic stuff was in place, like she actually had the right to sell the house! So I went ahead in the end.

NoIdontwanttoseeyourknob Sat 12-Jun-21 08:00:17

(Different solicitor to the previous one I posted about!)

Cocoaone Sat 12-Jun-21 08:16:00

What do you do if your solicitor is shit? Mine is awful, lovely man, but possibly senile (at worst) or very forgetful at best - but we're so far along the process now that swapping, even within the same firm, will definitely cause delays. And putting in a complaint isn't exactly going to make them prioritise your case 😩

SushiGo Sat 12-Jun-21 08:16:45

Step back and consider things from the sellers point of view.

This clause about protecting your costs if it goes past the end of June, yes it's fairly standard, but it's absolutely not accepted by everyone as fair and it is potentially adding a high cost to the seller at the last minute and they might not be able to afford it. I know sellers who pulled out of sales in February because their buyers tried to add these types of clauses in before the first stamp duty deadline when it was completely unrealistic that the sale was going to be dealt with before then.

We also had a situation in our sale where the whole chain was led to believe our solicitor was useless but a different solicitor had made a mistake and one of the estate agents was, again, being totally unrealistic and setting up false expectations. Is there a chance that's happening? Bear I mind your solicitor and EA are unlikely to blame themselves!

Answers to queries: are they refusing to answer them because they and the seller just don't know? If so you need to talk to your solicitor about how to address them, is indemnity appropriate etc. Are these relatively minor things or are these deal breakers?

I was so, so stressed at this point of our sale earlier this year. Some of the stuff I worried about just feels unimportant now its few months later and we're settled in.

Didicat Sat 12-Jun-21 08:23:07

Use you wastage agent as your go between! That’s what I did when the sellers solicitors was pissing me right off. I would be saying my solicitors sent an email at this time, requires the sellers to send back these documents can you make them aware. Being super nice to the estate agent and they will pass on messages for you.

On the other point not all conveyancer are rubbish, I can only say that mine has been utter dream to work with. Completely on it and getting everything that can be done done, and then being super supportive and with fab communication.

We have only used the one branch of conveyancers and they have always been amazing to work with.

Didicat Sat 12-Jun-21 08:24:03

Wastage = Estate but may be correct mistake blush

user1487194234 Sat 12-Jun-21 08:57:38

Yes we love giving ourselves more hassle 🤷‍♀️

NoWordForFluffy Sat 12-Jun-21 09:00:10

user1487194234

Yes we love giving ourselves more hassle 🤷‍♀️

There must be some out there who cause an atmosphere deliberately. There are certainly some in the litigation sector who do (yes, different beast, but much is down to personality of the person doing the job)!

Cs80 Sat 12-Jun-21 09:17:34

Our buyer is a litigator and theirs solicitor is clearly incompetent (ours didn’t use that word but pointed to a number of queries that demonstrate very poor knowledge). It’s a nightmare. Every step is a battle. We have bent over backwards to ease the process. We (via the EA) had a very aggressive email arguing they needed consent for the removal of a structural wall that is still standing - they argued and argued. I was standing in the house responding next to a wall they claimed no longer existed. Madness.

There are bad eggs in every profession sadly.

Didicat Sat 12-Jun-21 09:51:53

@user1487194234 I am of no doubt that there are lots more diamonds than lumps of coal! Our conveyancer is definitely a diamond. The problem is people generally just moan about the bad one, and rarely declare a positive!

LesRosiers Sat 12-Jun-21 10:03:04

The French system, where usually one solicitor acts neutrally to complete the sale/purchase, has a lot to be said for it. It takes so much of the adversarial stuff out of the process.

NoSquirrels Sat 12-Jun-21 10:04:50

The reason I'd prefer to bypass the solicitors, at least in the first instance, is because then we could ask the sellers to send through the things that their solicitor is obstructing, and have amicable dialogue that gets us the answers we need quickly, without endless back-and-forth while the solicitor mis-communicates our questions, or refuses to answer them. I would still want everything to go through the solicitors eventually,

Just give them a call or a polite email then. Really, there’s no law against it, despite what the estate agent says.

Porridgeislife Sat 12-Jun-21 12:29:23

Conveyancing is a low margin, high volume business and the people doing the grunt work (paralegals/conveyancers/solicitors) aren’t in it for a lucrative career.

Does your agency have a sales progressor? We have a FTB who wants to make June 30 but hasn’t been very proactive on her purchase. I’ve spent a lot of time buttering up the progressor to help chivvy the buyer and their solicitor along. She has been ultra helpful in that respect, we speak twice a week generally. I have chased both sets of solicitors for queries and responses, to move things along.

Likewise, I haven’t been very happy with my solicitor. I have a feeling our conveyancing solicitor is now off sick but they won’t actually tell me. It is worth gently opening the complaints progress - after I emailed the business team and politely explained we were behind schedule, my solicitor was MIA and we hadn’t been given a new one, and could they please outline their complaints process? - things started moving very quickly and we’ve had good progress since then. Unfortunately squeaky wheels do get the grease - be polite but ruthless and do it on email for the paper trail.

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