On Thursday, I received a telephone call from a former client – she told me that she had decided to buy an apartment and wanted to know my fees. I started by asking her some questions, and the conversation went a little like this:
Me: In order for me to give you as precise a breakdown of the fees as possible, I will need to ask you a few questions.
Client: I just need to know what your fees are.
Me: You have told me it is an apartment, so it would really help me if you could give me a few details and we can then be sure as to what is involved and I can give you some figures and try to avoid any nasty surprises as regards fees at a later date.
Client: Ok (big exasperated sigh).
Me: I know it is annoying but it really does help – so you may not know the answers to all of these questions but let’s see how we get on . Do you know how many years are left on the lease?
Client: 49 – look, the seller wants to complete quickly and I want to buy the apartment quickly. She had a sale fall through just before Christmas and those solicitors have all of the information so it is going to be quick.
Me: Do you know why it fell through before Christmas?
Client : (Even bigger exasperated sigh) what does it matter? All the work was done before then, they have all of the documents ready to send to whoever I appoint and I just want to get on with it and this is all wasting time; they are giving me their survey report and searches.
Me: (Very patient voice) well the thing is, that it would be good to know why the sale fell through before Christmas as that would give us some idea as to what we need to look out for. You just told me that there are only 49 years left on the lease so that is something we would need to look into.
Client: I don’t care about that – I just want to buy it – I will be dead before the lease comes to an end so it doesn’t matter to me.
Me: (Even more patient voice) I know but what if you wanted to sell it, it may be difficult to sell and no one is going to be able to get a mortgage on it.
Client: REALLY! I AM NOT HAVING A MORTGAGE AND I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND THAT I JUST WANT TO BUY IT!
Me: Okay – well just give me your email address and I will send you over some figures but these will not be precise as I don’t have sufficient information.
*Client provides email address*
I send over quote, thinking that I don’t really want to act…
Friday morning – email from client: Thank you for the figures but you are far too expensive and I got the impression that you were going to ask me too many questions. I just want to buy the apartment and I have therefore gone with another firm who I could buy four flats with for the cost of just one with you. You are far too expensive and I don’t know why I bothered to call you. You did not understand that it was all in order and that the previous buyer’s solicitor had done all of the work and it was none of your business why the previous buyer did not go ahead.
Me: (Big sigh of relief)