A month and a half ago, I (finally) moved house. The following information is hopefully of use to the prospective house buyer within Southampton:
Firstly, I’d recommend getting a mortgage broker. (The guide here is rather useful at explaining why, but in summary: there are thousands of products on the market, so whole-of-market brokers are A Good Thing, as they can find the best deals.) Specifically, I recommend Compass Mortgage Services: they’ve provided nothing but excellent advice, both to myself and to some friends of mine. (They were also ace at hassling the mortgage company to hurry things along.) These guys earn their money via commission from mortgage companies, so they don’t charge you any fees.
While we’re on the topic, mortgage companies: we went with Abbey National. They are very, very, very slow when it comes to admin. That said, we’ve had no serious problems.
Next, to consider estate agents:
Connells Southampton were absolutely rubbish. I failed to move house in February because they lied to me for well over a month, claiming that the sellers of the house in question had moved out and were ready to go. In fact, they were half-way through buying another house, and had in no way left the vicinity. Not recommended.
Enfields Eastleigh, by contrast, were nothing but a pleasure to deal with. Efficient and professional, they went to great lengths to help get the sale through. This is despite the efforts of various solicitors, to whom we shall now move…
Coffin Mew were… interesting. The service we received was absolutely abysmal: I can barely face detailing it. However, just to throw a few random examples out there: our solicitor told us she’d do things, then didn’t; ‘forgot’ that our mortgage offer expired on 31st May; let us think there was a chance of exchanging and completing on 31st May (up to and including the day itself), when several forms and queries were outstanding; and so forth. She was totally disinterested in our case.
However… that particular solicitor is apparently no longer working for Coffin Mew, and when we complained about the above, they promptly apologised and refunded the conveyancing fees, plus an amount of compensation.
As such, I can’t say I’ll be using these guys again, but perhaps they don’t entirely suck. Our experience did, mind you!
Michael Hayes & Co (another solicitor): this guy is, by all accounts, genuinely useless. He was the solicitor working for the sellers in our second, successful transaction. From what I can gather, the chap seemed to be entirely disinterested in the sale. Our useless solicitor claimed that he was referring pretty much every query to her to do; when the estate agents tried to convince him to do a particular piece of work, he apparently told them that he ‘didn’t give a f***’. Interesting… my suggestion is, avoid like the plague.
Meanwhile, it’s lovely to actually be in the house! It was a long haul getting here, but well worth it.