November 2010, I was very happy to win the instruction on a 3 bedroom first floor flat that had been extended in to the loft space. It is an old house that has been converted in to two flats. One ground floor with freehold, one first floor leasehold.
Early December, I was even happier as I had agreed the sale of the property to a young family for which it was perfect. They had had their property on the market for a long time. They were thrilled to finally have their own buyer and be able to move from their one-bedroom flat with their young boy to something with a garden and loads of space.
Even better was that their buyer had no dependant sale and my vendor had no dependant purchase. It was a two property chain. Pretty straight forward stuff.
Buyers submitted their full mortgage application and things got under way. Took a couple of weeks for the survey to be booked in and was a simple mortgage valuation. Survey went back to lender and they requested a full structural survey to be carried out. Minor hiccup. Based on cracks to exterior and side walls.
Whilst discussing this the buyers buyer pulled out. The bottom of the chain had gone. Their estate agent was brilliant at hiding what had happened and it took over a week to get confirmation. Their buyer, for whatever reason, were not happy with something. Survey was okay etc. but they had pulled out. End of.
This happened, if I recall correctly, in the run up to Xmas. What crappy timing. Nobody looks for property over Xmas. The market is snoozing.
Early January and I was instructed to sell my buyers property in the hope they can keep their purchase (which now needed a full structural) going.
I found a buyer and had sale agreed within 7 days. Most popular property on my books. Madness. Their previous agent’s marketing was so bad that it entirely put people off going to look. I shan’t name them, but they’re a very big, prominent agent.
The chain now had an added property on the bottom. So we’re at 3 properties and four people. Still pretty easy going, but most importantly, we’re back on!
Now for the full structural to get done. Through a bit of deliberation a full structural survey was booked in a week later and carried out at the buyers cost.
Survey came back inconclusive. Further tests needed.
My now vendor number two’s sale was progressing smoothly. Survey done, back good. Happy days.
Through long, arduous chats with idiots in a call centre, I ascertained the way to move forward that the buyers lender would be happy with. Vendor1 contacted freeholder and made a claim on the building insurance. Within four, very long weeks, we’d had the drain surveyed, dug up, repaired, test holes dug and the foundations checked. Couple weeks later and bingo, all is okay.
Buyer’s (vendor2) solicitor raised enquiries. There was a new problem! Basically, the loft extension was done with verbal consent from the freeholder. It wasn’t in the title of the property. It was owned by the freeholder, who was not the same person. Bugger. Would the previous freeholder put it in writing? No. Would it have made a difference? Probably not.
The crazy thing was that the vendors solicitor was adamant that it didn’t matter, and actually advised our client that the buyers solicitor was being pedantic. He wasn’t. There was no way they could proceed to buy the flat without owning the loft space.
Vendor contacts freeholder to discuss it. Freeholder contacts solicitor. Solicitor says “don’t give the loft away, you can charge for it”. Obviously.
There will be two very different sides to the way this story is viewed. My view is that the freeholder was worryingly adamant about using his chosen surveyor to value the loft space. We had it independently valued and it came back at approx. £2000. based on a percentage of the value it added to the property after considering cost to have work carried out etc.
The freeholders surveyor was twice the price of every other surveyor. His solicitor wasn’t cheap either. So anyway, freeholder wouldn’t take an independent valuation and insisted on his surveyor doing it. Vendor1 being held over a barrel and forced to do whatever he wanted. The freeholder was under no obligation to sell the loft to them. Hard to watch. The most frustrating thing was the length of time it took people to do anything.
Freeholder’s surveyor wasn’t interested in being helpful with timescales, even though the chain is now wanting to exchange and becoming impatient. Took a long time to book in, put his price right up and then merrily took his time getting his report back. In my personal opinion, his report was a complete joke. No idea how he worked his figures out, but I’d go as far as to say he’d more or less made them up. Anyhow, the cost of the loft was now £10k. Great.
In the meanwhile, vendor2’s sale had completed and they had gone in to a short term rent and put their stuff in storage.
You may notice that I’m not mentioning vendor1’s solicitor too much. That’s because they were epically useless and did next to nothing. Their biggest contribution was to give terrible advice. Most of my solicitor rants are down to this firm. Nothing was ever passed along. They just did nothing. And if they did decide to do anything, it was wrong and took them a week. Even down to simple bits of communication, they just wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t do it. I spent god knows how many unnecessary hours on the phone sorting out their incompetence.
Things had taken so long that vendor2 now back to being the buyer, had lost complete faith in this ever happening. They began, under their solicitors advice, to start looking for another property. They only went and found one. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. They’re really nice people and I had sold their property for them, so had no bad feeling. I was gutted.
I decided to get things to a point where if they did decide to stay with this property, that it would be able to complete.
Eventually had the deed of variation to incorporate the loft drafted. Buyers solicitor had to rewrite it and had done so much extra work that they now wanted paying too. £400 more for the freeholder to find. Agreed it to be paid on completion. I sorted this out in an hour. Whereas the vendors solicitor had
The shining beacon in this sale was the fact that the buyers/vendor2 had no faith/trust in the agent they had found this other property through. I told them where we were with things and they continued the purchase. Was a very long and stressful week of waiting (for all involved).
There was about another week of sorting stuff out and we got there. Exchanged yesterday. Completed today. 15th June 2011.
I’ve certainly lost a lot of time and money on this sale. But, I’m bloody happy to have got it through.
The stress on vendor and buyer was massive. The buyer gave me a big hug when I handed the key over. Quite a fitting end to a nightmare sale and emotional rollercoaster.