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Help! Please! Connells & Structural surveys!

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Help! Please! Connells & Structural surveys!

edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
10 replies 15.9K views
dellaclearingdellaclearing
86 posts
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edited 30 November -1 at 12:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Hello Everyone[/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial]Please can someone help me understand what's going on with Connells estate agency, are they trying it on or what?!
[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]They are constantly with-holding information from me, or not telling me the whole story. I am helping my girlfriends parents buy a house because they don't speak english well enough to buy a house so I'm doing their translating for them.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]They found a house they wanted through Connells estate agent, Connells waited until they'd already made an offer, done a bit of back and forth haggling and agreed on a price before informing us that it was steel framed house. After a bit of thinking about it, they decided to still take it.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Connells demanded the search and solicitors fees immediately, which grew from the £420 they'd quoted us to over £1000 when they factor in the VAT and what not. Instead of telling us in black and white, they tell us the basic fee without the added extras. I recently learned that it isn't necessary to appoint a solicitor until you've already got your final mortgage agreement, which we don't yet have, despite this I was called on almost a daily basis asking wether I had arranged solicitors yet, and was even told that if I didn't appoint one immediately that they would advise the vendor to put the house back on the market.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]About a week later I get another phone call from Connells advising me that the Halifax have "sent their man in" to perform the survey but now I need to arrange for a structural enginer to perform a survey as well because it's a steel framed property. Back when we first learned that the property was steel framed and we showed signs of hesitation, Connells continually reassured me that they sell several steel framed properties a week and that it was nothing to worry about. For a company so experienced in selling steel framed houses don't you think they would've known that this structural engineer's survey would be necessary and maybe told us up front instead of waiting until we'd already commited some money?[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]I asked the woman on the phone what it was likely to cost, she said around £200 - £400. I had to break the news to my girlfriends parents that there was another hidden cost that Connels had failed to inform us of when we initially asked for everything to be put on the table. I contacted the company they'd recommended (probably a mistake) and the guy I spoke with advised me that the structural survey would cost £320... plus I'd have to find and pay builders fees for actually opening up the columns. So again, Connels haven't given us the whole picture.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Had these sneaky people been 100% honest at the beginning about what we'd have to pay I would've strongly advised my girlfriends parents to walk away.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Another thing, when I spoke to the man at the structural engineer company, Jenkins and Potter, the guy I spoke with said that it was common place for the vendor to pay for a structural survey to be completed because regardless of who buys the house, a structural survey will need to be carried out. We could pay all this money and still have our mortgage application turned down, and then the next person will have to pay for a structural survey, and the person after that, and so on and so on until someone eventually buys it, whereas if the vendor pays then he has something to sell.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]I am getting seriously angry with Connells, and both myself and my girlfriends parents are beginning to think that they are giving us the runaround because (1) They're from Poland and although they speak English, it's not good enough to understand the legalities of house buying, solicitors etc... I think they're trying it on because they think they can, and the trouble is (2) My girlfriend and I who are doing all the communicating for them are not experienced in buying houses either, we're both fairly young and have never bought a house, I barely understand half the things they're talking about and I'm English![/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Can somebody please advise me if Connells are taking the Michael! Have we been badly treated here or is it just my inexperience? Who should pay for a structural survey, the buyer or the vendor? And if they decide to just walk away from this deal now, what would they lose? I know that the £320 searches and Vat is gone.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Any help, advice will be greatly appreciated! Sorry for such a long first post, big rant I know, thanks to everyone who took the time to read![/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana, Arial]Dan.[/FONT]

Replies

  • PasturesNewPasturesNew
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    I'd answer some of that, but it's late and ... long.

    And I got stuck as I was confused as to why Connells would want search fees from you? And what those fees of £420/£1000 are for? As the buyer these items are normally what you pay your solicitor for. Yet you say you haven't got one yet.

    So, I was confused, the posting was long, it's late.
  • PasturesNewPasturesNew
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    Ah... got it.

    So you are using the solicitor from Connells. Got it now.

    Right. Yes, you should have your mortgage offer in principle in your hand before paying out a penny to anybody. But you seem to be applying for a mortgage as you've had the survey.

    It is, however, normal to pay up front a lot of solicitor fees, especially the search fees. And £420 + whatnot + VAT is all perfectly normal, where whatnot is search fees etc.

    It is also normal to tell the seller who your solicitor is as soon as the offer is accepted. So you'd normally know who the solicitor was going to be, just request they don't do anything until you get the survey results back.

    Connells are not surveyors. They would not have been able to spot that a house needed a full structural survey. Even if they knew/suspected, they work for the seller and not for you so it's not for them to tell you that information. A full structural survey is just for a qualified man to take a good look. It does not include any of the work that will be required.

    I got half way down ... then I gave up.

    Basically, connells haven't really done anything unusual or different. From what you say and my interpretation of that they've behaved the same as any other Estate Agent and everything pretty much seems perfectly normal to me.

    How many houses have you bought before? It seems to me you don't know the process of house buying perhaps.
  • PasturesNewPasturesNew
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    Quick version
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Connells demanded the search and solicitors fees immediately, which grew from the £420 they'd quoted us to over £1000 when they factor in the VAT and what not. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Normal. Whatnot are the searches etc[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Instead of telling us in black and white, they tell us the basic fee without the added extras. [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Normal[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    I recently learned that it isn't necessary to appoint a solicitor until you've already got your final mortgage agreement, which we don't yet have, despite this I was called on almost a daily basis asking wether I had arranged solicitors yet, and was even told that if I didn't appoint one immediately that they would advise the vendor to put the house back on the market.
    You should have known which one you will be using, even if he's not doing any work until mortgage offer's received.
    [/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial]About a week later I get another phone call from Connells advising me that the Halifax have "sent their man in" to perform the survey but now I need to arrange for a structural enginer to perform a survey as well because it's a steel framed property. Back when we first learned that the property was steel framed and we showed signs of hesitation, Connells continually reassured me that they sell several steel framed properties a week and that it was nothing to worry about. For a company so experienced in selling steel framed houses don't you think they would've known that this structural engineer's survey would be necessary and maybe told us up front instead of waiting until we'd already commited some money?[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    No idea. Further details required to answer
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]I asked the woman on the phone what it was likely to cost, she said around £200 - £400. I had to break the news to my girlfriends parents that there was another hidden cost that Connels had failed to inform us of when we initially asked for everything to be put on the table. I contacted the company they'd recommended (probably a mistake) and the guy I spoke with advised me that the structural survey would cost £320... plus I'd have to find and pay builders fees for actually opening up the columns. So again, Connels haven't given us the whole picture.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    Structural surveys are only required when the first survey finds a problem.
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Had these sneaky people been 100% honest at the beginning about what we'd have to pay I would've strongly advised my girlfriends parents to walk away.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    It would be the same with any house that had the same problem.
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Another thing, when I spoke to the man at the structural engineer company, Jenkins and Potter, the guy I spoke with said that it was common place for the vendor to pay for a structural survey to be completed because regardless of who buys the house, a structural survey will need to be carried out. We could pay all this money and still have our mortgage application turned down, and then the next person will have to pay for a structural survey, and the person after that, and so on and so on until someone eventually buys it, whereas if the vendor pays then he has something to sell.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    [/FONT]
    Yes, annoying isn't it. I paid for four on various houses until when I bought a house in the end I didn't bother, I just accepted it had the same problems as the previous 4.

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]
    I am getting seriously angry with Connells, and both myself and my girlfriends parents are beginning to think that they are giving us the runaround because (1) They're from Poland and although they speak English, it's not good enough to understand the legalities of house buying, solicitors etc... I think they're trying it on because they think they can, and the trouble is (2) My girlfriend and I who are doing all the communicating for them are not experienced in buying houses either, we're both fairly young and have never bought a house, I barely understand half the things they're talking about and I'm English![/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Can somebody please advise me if Connells are taking the Michael! Have we been badly treated here or is it just my inexperience? Who should pay for a structural survey, the buyer or the vendor? And if they decide to just walk away from this deal now, what would they lose? I know that the £320 searches and Vat is gone.[/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Any help, advice will be greatly appreciated! Sorry for such a long first post, big rant I know, thanks to everyone who took the time to read![/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Dan.[/FONT]
    I think it's all normal stuff. Connells aren't taking the mick. However, a couple of points that seem to stand out to me is that you've let Connells have too much information/power.

    Are they organising/providing the mortgage through the Halifax?
    Are they providing the solicitor?
    And the structural engineer?

    Normally I personally would be choosing all these for myself.

    Not that there's anything wrong necessarily, but because of your inexperience you've no idea who is doing what or why or what the process is or how the chain of people are connected etc.
  • trudihatrudiha
    398 posts
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    The first thing that you have to get your head around in that the Estate Agents aren't an unbiased intermediary between you and the seller; they are working for the seller and they only represent the seller's interests. They (usually) won't actually lie to you but you may well come away from conversation having inferred something that isn't true or isn't the whole truth.

    This house will be cheaper than similar house of traditional construction your in-laws will have looked at. This is because mortgage companies aren't all that willing to lend on non-tradition buildings, even at the best of times, you'd have to jump through hoops to get one. Mortgage companies are currently coming over all funny any any kind of lending. Go back, speak to your mortgage company and ask what their current policy is on lending on non-traditional construction. If they seem iffy, you should look at pulling out.

    You could try telling the Estate Agent that you aren't willing to pay for the structural survey, that you expect the vendor to do this. If the vendor isn't willing to, I think that you should look at pulling out.

    Whatever you have already paid out is gone but you are free to stop this whole process now and try and find someone who knows about this kind off stuff to represent your in laws.
  • PasturesNewPasturesNew
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    trudiha wrote: »

    This house will be cheaper than similar house of traditional construction your in-laws will have looked at. This is because mortgage companies aren't all that willing to lend on non-tradition buildings, even at the best of times, you'd have to jump through hoops to get one. Mortgage companies are currently coming over all funny any any kind of lending. Go back, speak to your mortgage company and ask what their current policy is on lending on non-traditional construction. If they seem iffy, you should look at pulling out.
    Ah, I did wonder if this was a non-standard construction. I wasn't sure if that was what the OP was saying/meaning. But I was overwhelmed already :)

    I should never have started.... it got my obsessive compuslvie side working with my one-sided verbosity.
  • tbs624tbs624
    10.8K posts
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    Dan- it *is* confusing when you first start out with house buying . You may find this link useful:
    http://www.firstrungnow.com/how-to-buy-a-house/

    Trudiha's giving you some good advice on the type of property and what is involved.
  • NikkiNikki
    775 posts
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    We sold our last house through Connells and wouldn't ever use them again. Our house was a steel frame construction and we didn't need a structural survey to buy it. We did think that we may be at an advantage to get a structural survey when we sold it, but in the end it sold and the purchasers only had the basic survey required for the mortgage. I would insist the vendors paid for the structural survey if it's needed, if not walk away. We have loads of steel frame houses in Oxford - not buying here are you?
  • Hello again everyone!

    Only just had a chance to check back here, thanks for your replies everyone!
    Pastures, sorry I kept you up! Wasn't expecting anyone to answer my questions straight away, I just posted it so late because I wanted to get it out there because I wouldn't have had a chance to get to the computer again for a little while, never wanted to intrude on anyone's beauty sleep! And yeah, it was very long, sory about that!
    I haven't got time to update this right now, just wanted to say thanks to those who took the time to offer their advice.
    I'll try to post an update in the next couplem of hours.

    Dan.
  • Unfortunately as others have said, everything here is pretty standard.

    The UK house buying system isn't perfect, and you can incur substantial costs only to have the sale fall through.

    It really is a case of "buyer beware". The estate agents aren't under any obligation to tell you (most) things -it's up to you to ask questions. And your surveyor and solicitor. These are the parties who act in the buyer's interest, not the solicitor.

    Lessons learned for next time:

    - When getting solicitor's quotes, ask for ALL fees - i.e. ask for the conveyancing costs, then the searches, and any other disbursements/costs. Then ask if VAT is included.

    - Ask the sellers or EA if the house is non-standard construction, if extensions or other changes have all the relevant paperwork, etc etc etc. Ask everything you can think of.

    - You can "upgrade" your mortgage valuation survey to Homebuyers or Full Buildings. This is usually a little cheaper than than having the mortgage company do their valuation, then instructing a separate surveyor.
  • It is normal for the purchaser to commission a survey (either a Building Survey or Homebuyer Survey & Valuation) if they want one. The mortgage valuation is not a survey, it's for the lender to know that they will get their money back should you default on your mortgage.
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