There has been more chatter on LinkedIn this week about additional enquiries. There were also postings about why it takes so long for a house sale to complete, and as we all know, additional enquiries are only a small part of that but seem to be the part where everyone feels it is acceptable to blame others for either not responding properly or for asking enquiries which are not needed.
Firms are still asking to sellers’ solicitor to confirm that identity of the seller has been verified, notwithstanding the Code for Completion; firms are still asking for copy FENSA certificates, when, as competent persons’ certificates, these are not needed; and all of this just leads to sellers and buyers becoming more frustrated and becoming abusive towards their solicitors. This is not acceptable.
However, I have to say that there are times when I receive a Memorandum of Sale, and look at the firm acting for the seller and feel a sense of dread. It is then difficult to know how to approach it with my client – should I be honest about the seller’s lawyer and explain to my buying client that the firm always send the same enquiries which are outside of the scope of the Protocol? or should I not say anything? Should I tell my client that it is going to take a lot longer than if the seller had appointed a local firm? Or should I say nothing? and if I do decide to tell my client, I need to be careful how I word it. We all know the firms I mean … .
One transaction this week was very difficult on completion. I can normally get people moved by lunch time and can then move onto the next transaction but we know that if monies are delayed, clients become stressed and need reassurance, removal firms get tetchy, and then it can take a whole afternoon to keep things on course, whilst crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. This happened to me this week – elderly client moving on one of the hottest days of the year and she was third in the chain, moving into an empty property. It should have been straightforward but what I had not realised was that the first time buyers’ lawyer had requested mortgage monies the day before completion and there was no guarantee that they would arrive, and this was even when we had exchanged contracts three weeks ago. No monies coming up the chain – what do you do? You reassure your client that it will be ok whilst silently praying and crossing your fingers and hoping that it will be ok, and updating the sellers’ solicitor so that if we have to enter into some form of Licence to Occupy, then everything is ready. Three o’clock came and went and no monies had arrived. Four o’clock and I was told that the mortgage monies had arrived and we would be moving. But we still had to wait for the monies to come through to us and they eventually arrived, after my elderly client took a turn for the worse due to the heat and the stress. It is not acceptable that clients are put in that position. It is hard for us solicitors to keep people calm when such delays are beyond our control.
So think about the above scenario when you receive the Memorandum of Sale – are you going to tell the client that it could be a difficult transaction right up to the point of them receiving the keys? Or are you going to let them find out the hard way?
This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.
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