Unfortunately we were assigned Countrywide Surveyors when trying to fix up our recent mortgage and frankly the whole experience with them was an utter nightmare from start to finish. I paid a very substantial fee to as I thought, engage a so called professional to survey my property and what I received was a humourless little man, totally devoid of even an ounce of personality who was completely incompetent (despite apparently being a Senior Associate) and whose totally incorrect decision in relation to my property ended up costing me over £550 to engage a Structural Engineer to complete the work that I had already paid Countrywide to undertake on my behalf.
The Countrywide man’s refusal to admit his mistake and the subsequent delay arising from this ended up costing me an additional £1,500 and despite the fact that he must have realised he was in the wrong, his ego and sheer bloody mindedness seemingly almost scuppered the whole deal, made all the more frustrating by his point blank refusal to help us in any way once having received payment for the job.
The whole experience was terrible from start to finish and I would implore anybody to refuse to deal with this company if ever your mortgage company try to lumber you with them. To even contemplate letting Countrywide people through your door could end up being a very costly mistake indeed and whatever you do, don’t put yourself through all the stress and frustration of having to deal with such an incompetent bunch of cowboys, whose only interest is taking money off you in return for a “service” that can only be described as utterly abysmal.
Quite simply, avoid at all costs.
We found the staff at RMNJ extremely friendly throughout our correspondence with them, and as first time buyers, we found them to be extremely helpful when it came to answering our questions. However we were extremely disappointed with the overall service that we received and with the handling of our application. Being first time buyers, with no chain and with a seller who was desperate to move quickly, we were amazed that the whole process took 15 weeks!
After being told that RMNJ strive to complete within 6-8 weeks of receiving the completed forms, ended up completing in the 15th week. Whilst we are aware that there are some factors that have been out of their control that have helped to influence the timescale, there were a number of key actions on behalf of RMNJ that meant that the process was prolonged. For example at one point, information was received by RMNJ from our vendor's solicitor in mid-December, but nothing was actioned as a result of this until the 16th January. We were informed that this was a fairly standard form that required very little input from RMNJ, and therefore there seemed to be no need for almost a month to pass before any action was carried out. This action needed a response from the Vendor's solicitor but nothing was received, and despite numerous calls from ourselves to RMNJ regarding its progress, this was not chased up. On Weds 15th Feb I enquired again as to its progress and was informed by a member of staff that she could see from the notes that no-one had yet chased this up despite the fact that it should only take 7-10 days for them to return the information, to which the member of staff then pointed out that she was surprised that no-one from RMNJ had bothered to chase this up yet. So were we! We must have called four or five times within this period, each time speaking to different people to whom we clearly explained that we would like to move as a matter of urgency, and each time had been reassured that we were being looked after and our case was a matter of priority, when in fact nothing was being done on our behalf.
We do understand that our vendor's solicitor proved difficult to work with, but this seemed to be a small factor in the overall picture.
In addition, we did not receive any text messages regarding the progress of our application as promised until 6 weeks after signing the initial application (apart from an initial message to inform us that our forms had been received).
We were also disappointed to find that having been told we would receive our own solicitor and having been reassured that we could call them personally at any time, our first direct contact with our solicitor was 7 weeks after we'd started our application. Every time we called within this 7 weeks we were told that our solicitor was on the phone and therefore unavailable.
I once called the company at 4.47pm over an urgent query-thirteen minutes before their closing time. I was informed at our solicitor's entire team were on the phone so could I call back tomorrow. When I replied that it I would wait for someone to come off the phone as I needed to speak with someone that day, I was told that when they came off the phone they would be all be going home. When I asked if someone could just spare me 5 minutes I was informed that even if someone would be willing to talk to me, their computer would automatically switch off at 5pm, so they wouldn't be able to access my details.
As you can see we were rather disappointed with the overall service. We did get a sincere apology from RMNJ but it was all too little too late really.
We have recently moved house and used RMNJ Conveyancing Solicitors for both selling and buying.
Before I selected RMNJ I did some research on online conveyancing firms. Some seem to operate like call centres where incoming calls are handled by anyone who is free at the time. Others seem to be traditional small practices who are sometimes swamped by the volume of work that hits them from time-to-time.
One of the things that appealed to me about RMNJ is that they assign an individual to be responsible for your business. Another thing that I liked about them is that their website has headshots of their staff.
Having selected RMNJ I wasn't disappointed with the service they gave. Once I had signed up they sent by post two packs of documents (one for my sale and a separate one for my purchase). The same individual dealt with both my sale and purchase and I was given his name and a direct phone number.
There were a few complications with the sale and I had to phone RMNJ on a number of occasions. Each time the phone was anwsered promptly by a member of the team dealing with my transactions. In fact, I never spoke directly to the individual assigned to me. The members of his team were able to access my records as needed and to answer all my questions.
I cannot fault the service that I received. The bill was very reasonable. I requested some optional items that increased the total from the original estimate, but these options and costs were explained to me beforehand and there was no pressure on me to take them.
The whole process was completed promptly and efficiently. RMNJ kept me informed at every stage and every contact that I had with them was friendly and polite.
homesurv, incorporating Russell Francis & Co, Northampton.
We had a Home Buyer Survey done by the senior partner of this company. They omitted to inform us that as the doors had been removed between the conservatory and the dining room it was now an extension and needed Building Regs. We complained to the Senior Director, who said that our solicitor had not done the correct search (which he had), the defect was not significant and anyway we should ignore the Building Regs. We went through their complaint procedure, then went to the Surveyors Ombudsman. The Ombudsman's Provisonal Conclusion said that the fact that the doors had been removed should NOT have gone unreported and that Homesurv should pay us reinstatement costs. The senior partner appealed and the Final Decision, which is binding upon him, agreed with the Provisional Conclusion. Initially Homesurv, incorporating Russell Francis & Co, refused to pay us despite it being binding, this has already taken nearly a year. Don't use this company. After the Ombudsman's non-compliance team insisted that he paid we finally rec'd a cheque on 22 March 2010!! No apology was offered.
DON'T use J P Waterhouse, Banbury, as Solicitors for your house purchase/sale. They are not our Solicitors but have been instructed by the vendor, so I cannot comment on the quality of their legal advice - but their customer service is appalling. The solicitor himself 'unavailable' for weeks at a time, surly receptionists who even just hang up the phone! Give misinformation, different messages each time you speak to them. Unreaosnable delay caused. I wouldn't even consider buying a house in future if I knew the vendor was using them! Be warned...
This surveyor conducted a survey of a property for me in 2000. He failed to mention that two parts of the property were in need of complete demolition and rebuilding. He said they were fine with just minor repairs needed. This negligence cost me upwards of £15,000. When a complaint was made to him directly, then to the RICS, he refused to make any reply to me, my solicitor, or the RICS. So far, the RICS has fined him £1500 each for several breaches of their code of practice plus given him a "severe reprimand" for refusing to reply to the complaint. But he still refuses to make any reply to the complaint itself. So nearly three years on, he still conducts his surveying business as nobody knows his track record. He uses the RICS logo in his Yellow Pages advert, how many people will bother to check with the RICS about his record beforehand? I understand that my experience was not the first, nor the last such incident with this guy. I would advise you to avoid at all costs. (Also uses the names "Property and Construction Consultants Ltd" and his own name "Martin Sharrock".)
Moving house can be stressful enough thus it is a good idea to get a decent Solicitor on your side to do the conveyancing. When I bought my new house I got I special deal on the conveyancing with "New Homes Legal Helpline" with the builders. The sale of my old place and buying the new place all went through very smoothly and I was very happy with the service I received especially after the I had moved in and received a cheque from my Solicitor for £5,000. "Great some money left over, that's a nice surprise", I thought. So I did what any self respecting person would do who had just moved into a new house and had to buy the extras and furniture, yes I spent the lot. Just over a month later a received a phone call and a letter demanding the money back as they had made an accounting error. They had forgotten to add on the cost of the deposit of the new house which they paid for out of bridge account and in fact I should have owed them £40 at the end of the sale. Well I explained the money was gone and after receiving some free legal advice (www.lawsolutions.co.uk I have written an opinion on this web site in DooYoo) I agreed to pay them the money back over a series of instalments, £1000 then £50 per month. I sent the letter off and did not hear anything until 4 months later, the same time the last house in the estate had been sold and thus no more new customers for them. The letter I received 4 months later had a extremely bullying tone and demand a £1000 a month and an agreement in 7 working days or they would instruct their solicitors. As you can image I was taken back at their attitude after it had taken them 4 months to reply. Anyhow the legal advice I received suggested I should be able to get compensation and decide within reason the amounts of repayments. I raised it up to £150 a month and after a few letters back and forth they finally agreed, but their letters where very threatening and meant to scare me with the fear of going to court.
I found their whole tone to be one of bullying and pressurising. At the end of the day they made the mistake and thus should be prepared to suffer at bit for their mistake. Their first suggestion was that I put the £5,000 on to my mortgage and thus have to be an extra £5000 over 25 years, no way. When they got back to me after the 4 months they kept saying this had to be sorted as quickly as possible as their account was done £5,000. Then why 4 months to reply to my first letter? Because of the possible bad publicity from the other new houses near me whom would also have been offered this special deal. I understand it was a mistake, but you don't expect a solicitor to give away £5,000 of their own money do you? I am now a little concerned that if they cannot add up properly how many other mistakes have happen that have yet come to light. Only after this problem with the money, I discovered they where also very late in forwarding on vital documents to me as well.
The process of house moving is always very stressful, but perhaps it helps a bit to know why some things take so long and what can be done about it. From the point of view of a buyer You need:- 1) an offer of a loan. 2) the sale of your existing house 3) the result of searches, principally a search with the local authority and the environment agency (contaminated land). 4) a contract from the seller's solicitors. 5) replies to formal questions about the house called enquiries before contract. 6) a survey for value (minimum) and condition (needed for most houses, except new houses). What slows it down then? 1) find out what you lender needs to be able to approve the release of funds. Because so much is now carried out at a distance there are a good deal of new anti-fraud procedures to make sure that you are who you say you are, which why you are asked to send copies of utility bills, passports and the like. Bear in mind that you need to fill in these infuriating forms and get them back as soon as you can. They also often need to see proof of life insurance and sometimes this can lead to medicals being required, for example. Some will insist on either using their own house insurance (expensive) or exhaustively checking the one you want to use, which can lead to delays while they get proof of cover. 2)It goes without saying that this can slow matters down. You could get bridging cover from a bank to enable to go ahead without selling first but that is very risky. 3) These searches can take 4/5 weeks. Some local authorities are computerised so can do it in a matter of a few days, but many are not and anyway the environment agency are now a major cause of delay, as it seems they are not geared up for the demand whipped up by all the scares about landfill, polluted land etc which are generally checked now. The environment searches are often done on post codes, so a
"positive" ie polluted site can be shown even though it may be half a mile away, but in the same post code..Doh! 4) This should be fairly rapid, provided the seller has told its bank/building society to release the deeds to the solicitor. 5) Again this should take only a few working days, provided the seller helps by replying fairly quickly. 6) Surveys are to 3 main standards; the lender's valuation (they check to see the house is worth lending against) a house buyer's survey (a bit of valuation and some checking of condition and this at least gives you some cover) or a full structural survey, which is recommended for unusual / older properties or where there are signs of possible trouble - cracks which you can get a credit card in, for example. If you are anxious that some of these stages may hold you up and you may lose your bargain, you might try and get the seller to enter into a lockout agreement, giving you say 3 month's exclusivity and some security. So what can you do to speed it up? Find a solicitor who is recommended for attention to detail, for being accessible and getting on with it. If you cannot get a recommendation from a reliable source (Not the selling agent) then ring around for quotes but chose not on price but on how much information they ask and how much they give you in return; if they take time to listen and respond in writing, this is often a good sign. There should be a few of these rare animals in most major towns. Your solicitor does not have to be based in the place where you are buying, although local knowledge helps. Do not chose on price alone, otherwise you risk a poor service. Ask who will do the work day to day; are they a qualified solicitor? How long have they been doing conveyancing? Ask to be copied in on correspondence so you can see what is happening without having to call all the time. See if your lender will "pre clear&q
uot; you for a loan up to a given amount before you make an offer, so you only need to get the survey done once you find the house of your dreams. Ask the lenders which local solicitors and surveyors are on their "approved" panels- if you use someone not approved, they will insist on getting their own people to check over the same work- more delay and often more cost too. Chase up your surveyor after the inspection to make sure the report is OK and written up as soon as possible. Finally, if you are offered a seller's survey, consider who selected the surveyor, who paid for it and whether you feel comfortable about this. This is the major problem with the seller's pack. I had one offered to me and was not impressed. Remember too that the major cause of delay is the "chain" of people who get involved in several linked and dependant sales Good Luck!
Why's it taking so long to buy/sell that house? Throughout the conveyancing process there are often delays of some sort and usually it's the estate agent who gets it in the neck. Problems often occur at the following stages: The title deeds will usually be held by the vendor's bank/building society. It's a good idea to apply for these at the earliest opportunity. ie when you put the property up for sale. The vendor's solicitor prepares the draft contract, it's in his/her hands-there shouldn't really be a delay. Local authorities/Land Registry can be slow in replying to searches. If the sale is urgent, searches could always be done when the house goes on the market. If a search has been carried out for an earlier sale that hasn't gone through, it could be bought for use in the new contract. Obtaining finance can take a long time! A dodgy mortgage valuation can have a number of repercussions. The purchaser may have to get additional reports such as a full electrical report or a full structural survey before the bank /building society will make a mortgage offer. An unsatisfactory structural survey could prevent the sale going through or lead to re-negotiating the purchase price. If the property is a really bad dump the vendor may have to carry out repairs. Solicitors could sometimes use tactical delays. For instance, it may suit their client to hold the process up. Or there is a problem somewhere else down the chain, if there is one. The introduction of 'sellers packs', whereby the vendor of the property has a survey/searches done before offering the property for sale, should speed up the process. *update* A recent survey carried out in Bradford & Burnley has indicated that most people think the £500-£700 cost of sellers packs ie. a survey & draft contract, is too much and may have a detrimental effect, especially 'up north'.
We have recently been in the throes of selling our home and buying a new one. Everything seemed to be going OK. We got some first time buyers to make an offer on our house. We fell in love with the first house we saw (and although we did look at others, that one was the one we really wanted). The house we are buying is empty, there's no chain on either side. SO WHY HAS IT TAKEN 5 MONTHS?!?!?!!? AND we haven't moved YET! I don't know if we've just been unlucky but the so called solicitor (I think she's just a glorified admin person) seems to be like a female absent minded professor. She cannot remember us from one phine call to the next and she doesn't know the meaning of URGENT. Our buyers are in rented property and their lease is now 2 weeks from runnign out. We are also ready to move. All the contracts have been signed on all three sides, so WHY can't we move?!?!?! Solicitors do not know how to pick up a telephone. ONLY letters will do ... wastes time and money if you ask me. They only seem to be in the office 2 or 3 days a week, therefore they are like ships in the night ... they pass silently but never actually get together. If this deal falls through for any reason it will be the various solicitors who are on the cases that will have done it - I cannot for the life of me see why a couple of simple searchs and a bit of paperwork takes MONTHS to sort out. A coupl who looked at our house *after* our current buyers moved into the house next door 5 weeks ago. They bought and completed in 28 days!!! GRRRR.
If you are going to buy a property over 10 years old you are rather foolish if you dont get it surveyed first. It is all very well getting your dad / mate to have a look at it but can you really be sure they know what they are looking out for? A chartered building surveyor will have spent 3 - 4 years studying building defects and a further 2 years obtaining professional qualifications to back up that knowledge - and that is someone quite green. Surveyors charge on a time basis so if you find one that is cheap or charges a flat rate no matter how large the property then you could hazzard a guess that they may only give a cursary glance over some areas. Much as in the same way that if you took your car to a mechanic and he were to charge you a flat rate no matter how long whatever was wrong with it took to fix. It simply wouldn't happen, and to use an old cliche "There's no such thing as a free lunch." The problem is that at the time of comissioning the services of a chartered surveyor the poor punter is only a speculative purchaser and if he gets a major thumbs down (say the property is about to fall over a cliff / into old mine workings, etc.) then he will want to walk away and look at something else. Hence the purchaser wants to spend as little as possible on the survey as he may need to have another and another on other properties if he is unlucky. The remedy for all this is soon to be passed as law which will require all vendors of properties to have their dwellings surveyed when they put them up for sale. The purchaser can then make a reasoned judgement on the likely condition without incurring his own costs. If he is then buying a rambling Victorian mansion which has had no maintenance carried out on it for 7 years then he may choose to comission his own survey to look at specific areas as pointed out in the first survey. Keep your eyes peeled for more news of this and when it is to come about in the newsp