Author Topic: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor  (Read 7856 times)

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moaninminnie

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Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« on: April 23, 2015, 10:26:15 pm »
I heard today that Crest were not allowing Help to Buy purchasers use their own solicitors.
Surely this is against the Consumer Code?

Apparently-the sales lady told me this today Crest are within their rights to refuse the sale to anyone, so that is how they get around it.  She assured me that we would NOT be allowed to purchase unless we talk to their Mortgage broker and MUST use their solicitor. She pointed out that their solicitors are used to HTB and by not using their solicitors errors and delays occur. Even though we have a solicitor friend who would be happy to help us who we trust!

It isn't stated on their literature or on the website. Having had a look at various HTB articles and the Consumer Code tonight, it seems Crest are wrong to do this.
But then, I suppose one could say any business is within their rights to refuse custom! Any thoughts?


New Home Expert

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2015, 08:37:36 am »
As you have discovered it is illegal to force new home buyers to use a particular choice of solicitor.
The Consumer Code for Home Builders requirement 2.5 forbids it but the Code is not mandatory.
What Crest are doing is breaching SRA rules of conflicts of interest and most importantly not complying with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

You should NEVER EVER use the house builder's choice of solicitor, even if they only suggest or recommend a particular firm.

My advice would be to walk away and not buy a Crest new home.  Apart from this blatant disregard for the regulations and their own Code, Crest Homes are a 4 star rated housebuilder so they are not that good anyway, especially when it comes to quality and service!   

It is true Crest along with any commercial company are free to do business (or not) with whoever they want (as you are to not buy from them!) but they are not free to trade unfairly or openly breach regulations and legislation.

Please report Crest Sales to your local Trading Standards Office today.

You could (and should) also inform the Consumer Code regarding this clear breach - not that they will sanction Crest.

If people like you do nothing then house builders will be free to continue to break the law in this regard.
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Lily70

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2015, 11:44:32 am »
Moaninminnie:
If you are buying with HTB, you will need a solicitor who is familiar with the HTB requirements and a mortgage broker who is registered to deal with HTB.
I reserved with Crest with HTB, went with a solicitor of my own choice but the mortgage broker is the one Crest recommended.

When completing PIF for HTB you will have to indicate your solicitor and your mortgage broker.

I am close to exchanging contrcats and the funny thing now is that Crest solicitors (I mean the solicitor representing Crest) does not want to give even an anticipated completion date to my solicitor.

When I applied for HTB and for the mortgage they indicated estimated months of completion which were 6 months ahead of my mortgage application. According to HTB requirement the buyer must complete within 6 months after the issue of Authority to Exchange. Also lenders won't approve mortgage if the completion date is more than 6 months after the application date.

Now that I got HTB and mortgage approval Crest solicitors are suddenly unable to give Anticipated completion date. I think the good thing about HTB they won't issue Authority to Exchange if Crest does not provide Anticipated completion date. Going with HTB gives some assurance and puts pressure on the builder to complete within anticipated deadline.

I was also thinking about reporting Crest and their solicitors about not releasing the completion date, but I was not sure where to report and my solicitor assured my that she won't exchange .

onlybuynew

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2015, 02:19:19 pm »
Did you 'negotiate' incentives with your purchase Moaning Minnie?

My guess is yes - something Crest Nicholson rarely offer.

If you did then Crest's sales staff can ask that to help smooth the process for all parties concerned, you use a recommended Solicitor.

Of course you have the option of using your own, as they have the option to remove the incentive.

To offer an incentive is part of a 'negotiating process'. Think of it this way, you do/use what I want and I will consider your request/expectation of an incentive.

I hope that helps.

Lily70

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2015, 04:12:15 pm »
Did you 'negotiate' incentives with your purchase Moaning Minnie?

My guess is yes - something CN rarely offer.

If you did then CN sales' staff can ask, that to help smooth the process for all parties concerned, you use a recommended Solicitor.

Of course you have the option of using your own, as they have the option to remove the incentive.

To offer an incentive is part of a 'negotiating process'. Think of it this way, you do/use what I want and I will consider your request/expectation of an incentive.

I hope that helps.

Solicitors' fees are not that high to break Consumer Code and get potential buyers complaining to relevant authorities.
In my opinion, incentives are to make a potential customer committed.
I got an impression that sales people who meet buyers at marketing suits are not necessary Crest employees and may be unaware of the requirements of The Consumer Code for Home Builders.

If Crest refuses to sell, they are not the only house builders in the market: there are other developers around. It is just a hassle for working people, to spend weekends to get familiar with areas and neighbourhood around new developments.

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2015, 07:34:36 am »
Lily, 
Under the Consumer Code for Home Builders which all house builders are required to at least look like they pay lip service to, not only should they not force their choice of solicitor on buyers (requirement 2.5) but they must also specify the dates the home is due to be complete.

Quote
3.2 Timing of construction, completion and handover
Requirement: The Home Buyer must be given reliable and realistic information about when construction of the Home may be finished, the date of Legal Completion, and the date for handover of the Home.

Guidance
a) Information given to the Home Buyer before
Exchange of Contracts
You should warn Home Buyers that weather and other matters beyond your reasonable control make the time needed to construct a Home difficult to predict. It is unreasonable to give or expect to be given a definite date
months in advance; however, certainty should increase as the Home nears completion.
What you tell the Home Buyer about when the Home is likely to be ready will depend on what stage it is at when you provide the information. You may follow your own process and methods.
However, you may wish to use the following approach:
  • Before completing the foundations and ground floor - give the calendar quarter when the Home is likely to be ready.
  • When the roof is completed and the building weatherproof - give the month when the Home is likely to be ready.
  • When the Home is decorated and main services are connected - say what week the Home is likely to be ready.
The construction stages and time periods will vary according to the type of development; for example, whether you are building flats or houses.
b) Information given to the Home Buyer at Contract Exchange
It is important that you consider carefully the expected date given in the Contract of Sale and that it is consistent with the information you give the Home Buyer before Contract Exchange. The Home Buyer has the right to withdraw from the contract if there has been unreasonable delay beyond the date given in the Contract of Sale. (See 3.3 below.)
In the Contract of Sale, you should give the anticipated date by which notice of Legal Completion should be served.

Any good competent non-housebuilder solicitor should be able to delay until the required written confirmations are received.
Read your Consumer Code. If they haven't given you a copy that's yet another requirement broken (1.2)
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New Home Expert

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2015, 07:42:03 am »
Did you 'negotiate' incentives with your purchase Moaning Minnie?
My guess is yes - something Crest Nicholson rarely offer.
If you did then Crest's sales staff can ask that to help smooth the process for all parties concerned, you use a recommended Solicitor.
Of course you have the option of using your own, as they have the option to remove the incentive.
To offer an incentive is part of a 'negotiating process'. Think of it this way, you do/use what I want and I will consider your request/expectation of an incentive.
I hope that helps.

Whether Crest offered "incentives" or not, they cannot do so on the condition Crest are allowed to break the law and breached Consumer Code Regulations.  This would be an enabling bribe with the sole purpose of circumventing the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008. 
My hope is that eventually the relevant authorities will clamp down on this breach with large fines for sales staff and prison for directors.

It is not legal to buy a car from a dodgy car dealer who has wound the mileage clock back - but hey its alright, he gave you a good incentive (eg free CD player and sat nav) or money off deal on the car!
I suspect you are employed by Crest to post on forums "onlybuynew" 
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New Home Expert

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2015, 08:01:06 am »
I got an impression that sales people who meet buyers at marketing suits are not necessary Crest employees and may be unaware of the requirements of The Consumer Code for Home Builders.

It is a Consumer Code Requirement that house builders actually train their staff.
Quote
Requirement: The Home Builder must provide suitable training to all staff who deal with Home Buyers about their responsibilities to them and what the Code means for the company and its directors.
1.4 Appropriately trained customer service staff
Guidance
You should train your staff to understand:
 The detail of the Code;
 The company’s key legal responsibilities; and
 Your staff’s own responsibilities to Home Buyers. Not all staff need the same level of training.
Its extent will depend on their role and how much they are involved with Home Buyers. If you use Agents to sell your Homes, you should ensure they are trained to the same level as above. You should also ensure that  Agents' responsibilities are clearly explained in their contract arrangements with you.

I cannot be the only person who has read and understood the Consumer Code for Home Builders. 
Those like Crest Nicholson openly breaching their industry  Code requirements, do so knowingly as a company policy for their benefit whilst at the same time, disadvantaging their own customers.
It is done in the full and certain knowledge that:
1) They are unlikely to be found out
2) Even if they are, no one will complain and
3) If they do no prosecution or action will be taken
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Lily70

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2015, 09:40:47 am »
Any good competent non-housebuilder solicitor should be able to delay until the required written confirmations are received.
Read your Consumer Code. If they haven't given you a copy that's yet another requirement broken (1.2)

Yes, NHE, that is what my solicitor is doing.

Lily70

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2015, 09:50:21 am »
Apparently-the sales lady told me this today Crest are within their rights to refuse the sale to anyone, so that is how they get around it.  She assured me that we would NOT be allowed to purchase unless we talk to their Mortgage broker and MUST use their solicitor. She pointed out that their solicitors are used to HTB and by not using their solicitors errors and delays occur. Even though we have a solicitor friend who would be happy to help us who we trust!

moaninminnie,
I do not know who is your local Help To Buy Agent, but I would recommend you email them to clarify the choice of solicitors. The email of my local agent is helptobuy@aldwyck.co.uk. I had a query regarding buying off plan and they answered by email within 24 hours.

New Home Expert

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Re: Forced To Use Crest Choice of Solicitor
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2015, 06:58:53 am »
moaninminnie
Crest would like to know about the forcing you to use their choice of solicitor.
They replied to my tweet on the subject:
Quote
New Homes Expert @NewHomesExpert1  Apr 24
4 star-rated @CrestNicholson are illegally forcing Help to Buy buyers to use their choice of solicitors #Prosecute  http://goo.gl/FsEVAI

@NewHomesExpert1 We are concerned about your statement and would like to discuss it further with you, please could you DM us with more info.

I have suggested Crest reply on here and ask you to contact them directly.
Alternatively, you could reply with the name and location of the Crest development, the date and time you visited and the name of the sales representative you spoke with if you can remember.
If Crest are really "concerned" they will do something and report back to this forum.
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