Beware of Greeks bearing gifts

Trojan Horse

“Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes” from Virgil’s Aeneid has been paraphrased into the proverb “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”. Originally used to warn of the danger of the Trojan Horse, the proverb now serves to warn of possible deception in general and it sprang to mind again yesterday when speaking with an owner who is going through a sale at present.

They had previously been on the market with another agent and failed to sell. We took the property on and agreed an offer within a week but the owner had already previously agreed to instruct conveyancers recommended by the first estate agent. To make matters worse, our buyer had also encountered this estate agent whilst viewing and had been convinced to use the same conveyancer.

Whilst chasing through the sale yesterday (a thrice weekly job at least at present), I not only found out that both conveyancers have failed to pass on information (leading to several major holdups and aggravation for both buyer and seller) but also have even been posting documents to each other (despite being not only in the same building but also in the same department on the same floor). The owner is beside themselves with the progress of the sale and, although very grateful we are helping to solve problems as they occur, is kicking themselves for agreeing to the service in the first place. This is by no means the first time that we have encountered issues with this conveyancer (I remember a particularly fraught transaction only a month or so back where the same estate agent was involved and their client was incandescent with fury at the behaviour of both agent and conveyancer).

It seems many of the general public are still not entirely aware that some agents are incentivised (either by head office or the service providers) to sell associated services, even when the quality of these services can vary hugely.

Using a good solicitor is utterly crucial to the success of your sale or purchase and, as with all in life, we have found quality does not come cheap. Why not shop around, get a variety of quotes, read reviews and ask your friends. At Madison Oakley, we don’t suggest which solicitor, surveyor or mortgage to use. If asked, we will of course happily recommend services our partners have personally used in their own property transactions or pass on our experiences from other recent clients but we do not receive payment from any outside party for our recommendations.

When you’re dipping your toes into the property market again, do your research thoroughly on which solicitor to use (just as you should with your estate agent) and you may wish to consider questioning why the estate agent might be selling you a particular service.