How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Alex J. Your Own Question
Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3695
Experience:  Two years conveyancing experience.
13113900
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
Alex J. is online now

I have recently had my purchase offer accepted on a

Resolved Question:

Hi,
I have recently had my purchase offer accepted on a property.
Soon after that, it turned out that the vendor wasn't the actual owner of that property yet, at which point I made it clear to the estate agent that I will not proceed until the vendor becomes the actual holder of the ownership title to the property.
A couple of days later the real estate agent confirmed over the phone that the owner completed their transaction and are in position to sell the property.
I initiated the mortgage process and paid mortgage broker's fees, the valuation fee and searches fees.
Once all that has been done, my solicitor found out that the vendor still did not own the property, which means that the real estate agent lied to me.
What are my chances of recovering the fees I paid from the estate agent? How much compensation should I claim from them?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
You can sue them, what you would be suing them for is an economic tort, either a malicious falsehood or a willful interference with a contract. You have proved losses so you could certainly recover these.
Is it possible the seller has exchanged contracts on the property?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Alex,I'm not sure I understand the question - as far as I know, the vendor (seller) is not the owner of the property yet, which prevents me from purchasing it from them. I guess that means that they haven't exchanged with whoever is the owner of the property at the moment.Here's a more detailed description of what happened (it's what I communicated to the estate agent - I blanked out names/addresses for now):"""
As mentioned earlier on the call, I have been proceeding with arrangements to purchase the property at XXXXXXX road.I had the offer accepted on Oct 2. Soon after that it came to light that the vendor did not actually own the property, which obviously made the transaction impossible.I made it very clear to the agent that handled this, (agent's name), that I would not be willing to proceed unless the vendor became the formal owner of the property.
I was assured that that would happen in the coming days.On Oct 15 (the agent) confirmed on the phone that the vendor had completed their transaction and was in position to actually sell the property. At this point I proceeded with the mortgage application and paid feed related to that.Today (Nov 3) it came to my attention that the vendor still did not complete their transaction and is not the owner of XXXXXXXXX road, which obviously prevents me from purchasing it, even though I already spent substantial amounts of money on fees.Since I was very clear from the very beginning that I only want to go ahead with the purchase once the vendor completes, I demand (the agency's name) to pay me back all the costs that I have incurred in relation to this so far, i.e:- valuation fee: GBP 310.00
- Alexander Hall fee: GBP 499.00
- searches fee: GBP 400.00On top of that, I will also demand applicable compensation of at least GBP 2000 for my lost time and distress caused by this.I demand the above sums to be paid into my account, detailed below, immediately:XXXXXXXXXXXXXI will also report this to the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services and/or the Property Redress Scheme, as appropriate.To follow up on that - it is beyond any doubt that by providing me false information about the vendor's ownership title to the property, (the agency's name) glaringly violated the Property Misdescriptions Act from 1991.Please let me know asap whether you are willing to resolve this matter amicably on my terms, otherwise I will be forced to take legal action and make this matter public.
"""So it's not just the money I lost, but also over a month of my time - I would never go ahead with the mortgage application for a property that I couldn't buy.What course of action would you recommend next? The agency already refused to respond to me today.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
Do you want to proceed withe court action against the estate agent? Bare in mind that it will be even more time consuming to pursue them.
The Property Mis description Act 1991 has actually been repealed. If I were in your position, given the seriousness of what they have done I would complain to Trading Standards - you have protection under this regulation http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2008/9780110811574/contents Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations - and Trading Standards have the power to award compensation, they will be far cheaper and less time consuming than suing them in court. The only down side is it may take a while for Trading Standards to reach a decision. https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office
Has your solicitor sent the agents a letter asking for an explanation?
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello,Obviously, a court action would be the last resort for me - ideally, I'd like to resolve this amicably, but I need to show them I'm serious about it, otherwise I'm worried this will be dragging on forever.I'm finding out what feedback the solicitor got from them, will let you know.On another note, do you reckon the amount of compensation that I demanded (GBP 2000) is reasonable / within reach in this case?
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
Thank you.
All your losses have been incurred and paid for I would say you can definitely claim £1,209 as these can be proved.
The other £800 could be claimed from wasted solicitors fees and also some compensation for inconvenience. I think £2000 is probably a fair figure but at this stage I would claim everything you can prove and justify.
Your solicitor should certainly send a letter - seeing the claim on headed paper from a solicitor, will make them realise you have been advised and should not be ignored.
I would say that if they do not confirm a time frame for a response within 48 hrs you will complain to Trading Standards.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks AJ, I'll follow up here once I get a response from the solicitor.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
No problem.
If I can assist any further please do not hesitate to contact me.
Any feedback is gratefully received.
Kind regards
AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi AJ,Here's what I got from my solicitor:"""
I can understand your concerns, however you can still buy this property. The seller has contracted to buy the property and from what I understand completion of that purchase is due shortly – it may have even already taken place, however I have not yet had this confirmed by the seller’s solicitor. The fact that the seller has contracted to buy the property means that he is legally committed to buy the property – and the seller is legally committed to sell the property. Your seller, therefore, is able to sell the property to you and you are able to buy the property. Foxtons haven’t misled you – they were quite correct in marketing the property and arranging the sale, as the seller is legally entitled to sell the property to you. We are just waiting for the formal paperwork and confirmation from the seller’s solicitor.
You haven’t incurred any losses because the transaction is still proceeding, the seller is still selling the property to you (and is able to sell the property to you).
"""and then"""
Completion of the seller’s contract on this flat is actually on Monday 7th December, next Monday. At that time he will be the legal owner of the property.
"""Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me these are 2 contradicting statements.Also, as I mentioned before, I was very clear and explicit about the fact that I would only proceed with the loan arrangements once the vendor completes their transaction.The way I'm reading the above is that the vendor clearly wasn't anywhere near completing their transaction on Oct 15, which is when Foxtons confirmed that they had completed.Does the above prevent me from complaining about Foxtons to Trading Standards?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ah, didn't mean to reveal the agency's name there, sorry.
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
The solicitor does have a point and the reason why is you are protected by an implied condition of the contract that the property is sold with "full title guarantee". Your solicitor would not let you complete if this guarantee was excluded or limited - without advising you.
You mentioned that Foxtons actually said the property had completed its sale to the your vendor. If that is the case they may have misled, but the fact that the seller did not own the property did not mean they were wrong to market it. The potential wrong doing was misleading you - so you have to ask yourself did you tell them you would not proceed unless the vendor owned the property and therefore did they mislead you into proceed under a misrepresented set of facts? If the answer is yes, then I would still consider a complaint to trading standards. I would caveat this though and say your solicitor has all the facts and documents so I am slightly reluctant to contradict another professional who has more information than I. That said a complaint to Trading Standards will not cost you anything but time.
Kind regards
AJ
Alex J. and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you