When Monty and I sit opposite each other doing our live Q&A for LBC I’m always amazed by how little the average member of the public actually knows about the house buying and mortgage process. But on further thought, why should they know anything. Most people buy and sell property maybe three times in their entire life and organising the sale, i.e. mortgage, legals and agency is a new experience every time. The choices are bewildering and, as is demonstrated by those calling in for advice, most have no idea and even worse don’t want to admit it. Live Radio seems to be a wonderful and anonymous mouthpiece for them.
Word of mouth recommendations are fine but your father’s advice to use his old solicitors firm in Hastings often won’t cut the mustard. Similarly using your bank for your mortgage will most likely NOT yield the best deal – although luckily, if you’re listening, most will have to tell you in an interminable preamble that they can only offer you limited products. Even agency has changed insofar as you used to use, rightly in my book, a good local agent as they were exactly that – local. But these days sustained bombardment by TV and press tells you there are modern online choices. Problem is there’s a basic dichotomy between the age of the consumer, usually quite old in the buying and selling process these days, and the age required to make the most of the ‘new’ offerings.
All of which goes to show the difficulty in getting objective a sensible advice. To my mind the mortgage process has been revolutionised by the advent of brokers and those hosting me, i.e. Coreco, have proved over MANY years to be good at what they do. Similarly as an agent I’ve had excellent experiences with solicitors like AVRillo outside London and Child & Child inside London – and I’ve no embarrassment in saying that. I still think though that agents have a wide range of responsibilities to their local population and although a ‘commission earning’ recommendation may raise eyebrows, it surely would have failed if it didn’t work – there’s little point in recommending duffers.
Given the apparently corruptible, and often not objective, nature of online review sites it’s clear that the questions Monty and I get are the tip of the iceberg – a sad state of affairs and not one looking like it’s going to be solved at any time soon.