The fiasco of HIPs reaches new levels of absurdity, as reported by Human Law Mediation. Those clowns at the Department for Communities and Local Government certainly know how to make an even bigger disaster out of a disaster. Do any of these fuckwits actually know anything about buying and selling property?
It gives me
great no pleasure to hear that the number of complaints against estate agents reached a record level last year. The only thing that surprises me is that, according to this BBC report, the ‘main grudges’ were bad manners and aggressive sales tactics. Why is it that the extortionate amount of their fees (over seven times what a solicitor charges for dealing with the sale conveyancing) doesn’t cause the biggest number of complaints?
Well, it just shows the power wielded by Terminological Inexactitudes. Only two days after I posted about it, the government announces that the introduction of HIPs is to be delayed. Now all they have to do is scrap them completely…
With it’s usual contempt for dissenting voices, the government is intent upon implementing HIPs on 1st June.
Hands up any conveyancers who think they will be a good thing?
I thought not.
Just received a completion statement in the post today. Sale price £240,000. Estate agents fees £3,600 plus VAT. Solicitors fees (not my firm) £500 plus VAT. Nothing unusual about that you might say, and you’d be right. Hold on a minute… the estate agents, who cursorily inspected the property, wrote up some particulars and advertised it charged THREE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED POUNDS more than the solicitors, who did all the conveyancing work. Why the fuck do most sellers accept this? Christ, if the solicitors tried to charge that much they’d be complaining from the tree tops. And don’t give me any of that crap about advertising fees and the two things not being comparable – when I started out in this profession some twenty seven years ago solicitors and estate agents charged about the same. Since then, whilst we’ve capitulated to pressures to keep our fees down (with the result that we’re barely making any profit on the work), estate agents have been allowed to quietly increase their fees so that the type of figures mentioned above have become acceptable.
As there is little prospect of property sellers waking up to the fact that they’re being screwed, my advice to any aspiring ‘fat cat’ is to forget about becoming a lawyer with all that training and outside interference by regulators, and become an estate agent instead.
I never for one moment believed that Home Information Packs would transform the conveyancing process, as promised. Now I read with amusement that the government is postponing Home Condition Reports, surely the ‘flagship’ element of HIPs. However, in an obvious effort to save face, the government is still apparently determined to implement the scheme next June, rather than abandon it completely. Brilliant.
I heard that one of the reasons for the U-turn is that estate agents were getting worried that their vast income would reduce, due to many people deciding not to sell their properties because of the cost involved. Shame.
Estate Agents. Don’t you love them? Take a couple of photos of the property, add some standard hyperbole description, think of a price that will give them the most commission, place an advert and then wait for the buyer to come to them. Once a buyer is found, pass it to the solicitors and wait for the money to roll in. You’ll only hear from them after that if they start getting anxious that they’re going to have to wait too long for their commission.
Which brings me to my next point. Upon what factors do they base the amount of their commission? Their qualifications? Nope, most estate agents have no (or no meaningful) qualifications. The amount of work they do? Nope, can’t be that, otherwise the commission would be about twenty-five quid. Ah yes, the price! So, the solicitors, who are highly qualified, subjected to rigorous control and do all the work get about a tenth of what the estate agents get. Trouble is, estate agents have our profession by the short and curlies, and they know it, passing matters to their preferred firms or, worse still, some crappy cut-priced conveyancing outfit.
And the scourge of estate agents doesn’t stop there. Apart from various dodgy practices recently unveiled in a BBC documentary, they help push up property prices so that the poor sods at the bottom of the market can’t afford to get on the ‘property ladder’.