Solicitors are revered by some and reviled by others.
The good solicitors are worth their weight in gold.
I am very fortunate in that I tend to work with very good solicitors who not only are technically excellent, but who also offerfantastic service.
Unfortunately I have dealt with some appalling solicitors and normally they represent the sellers. These solicitors tend to be:
- Technically average
- Poor communicators who hide behind jargon
- Never answer the phone and are slow to respond to emails
Poor or unhelpful solicitors are one of the main reasons that upwards of 15% of property transactions fail after terms have been agreed.
In the worst case, I have had to ask that the seller’s solicitor be replaced because she was so incompetent. As soon as she had been, then the transaction was expedited with minimum hassle.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, too often people assume that solicitors are efficient, reliable and competent. Many are, but just like any trade or profession, there are the good, the bad and those who should not be allowed to practice.
Therefore it is essential that you monitor the progress that is being made during the legal process. If you do not you run the danger of losing your ideal home or investment either because the seller gets annoyed and decides not to sell (even if his solicitor is at fault) or they simply put the property back on the market and someone else bids and moves more quickly than you.
Unfortunately I am dealing with a situation like this now, where my client wanted to use his own solicitors. To be fair, the solicitor on the case was very good. Unfortunately she has just left on maternity leave.
The sellers’ solicitor has been rather slow which has not helped. He is also not entirely to blame because the managing agents have taken a painful amount of time providing the information.
The estate agent has actually been rather good which has helped.
The problem has started with the hand over to the new solicitor on our side who in one email has set the alarm bells ringing. I emailed him (copying in the client) because I had been advised that he had been sent the outstanding information he needed to exchange contracts. I wanted to know if he felt that this was the case and if not, what was still outstanding. His response which also copied in the client was:
“Sorry I do not have time for that. The seller’s solicitor very well knows what is outstanding apart from the insurance quote.”
Not very constructive and this is how delays and bad feelings grow between the buyer and seller. He is immediately assuming that the other solicitor is in the wrong. He may well be right, but that does not help the situation. Indeed, the sellers’ solicitor may have emailed the information and it has ended up in a junk file. In which case, both parties are technically right.
Ultimately that is irrelevant. The only thing we should all be focussed on is ensuring that the transaction takes place (assuming everything is in order).
This may sound absurd but solicitors will often exchange emails claiming that the other solicitor hasn’t done the work WITHOUT ACTUALLY MAKING CLEAR WHAT IS STILL REQUIRED.
This is why I asked for a list of what is outstanding so that we can solve the problem swiftly.
So I am now going to negotiate with our solicitor (because ultimately this will be a negotiation although hopefully just a simple conversation) to get him to do his job (I will not be telling him to do his job – that would be confrontational and there is a better way to tackle this particular situation even if deep down I want to tell him to do his job or drop his fees!).
You may need to do the same so be vigilant. The negotiations do not stop once you have agreed the terms of the purchase. That is really only one of many hurdles you need to clear.
For more information on how to ensure that your purchase progresses smoothly and successfully, I suggest you read Chapter 10 of my book, The Prime London Property Puzzle, again.
If you would like to request a free copy of the book, or if you would prefer to have me help you buy your ideal home or investment in London and would like to discover how I can save you not only money but also time, stress and all the unnecessary bureaucracy involved, then please email email@example.com to arrange a consultation or call 0800 389 4280 (+44800 389 4280 from outside the UK).
Good luck with your search for a property in London.