Property & lawyers - a dangerous mix when it comes to ensuring you get a good deal for your purchase or sale - and Solicitors Property Centres up and down the length of Scotland have done more to corrupt the housing market than ever before - leading to crooked price fixing deals on properties, monopolistic advertising deals on property sales cutting out the competition, and deal fixing so favoured clients & even legal colleagues get the cream of properties, either for their own use or for pure speculation & profit, driving up the market & pricing out the locals of their own communities - all for personal profit.
Over the years, I have seen firsthand, some of the most complex frauds in the property market - mainly in the Scottish Borders which was my locality during the 1980s& 90s, where lawyers had a free for all in robbing clients properties for their own ends.
Many good properties which came up for sale, usually ended up in the hands of a fellow lawyer, or worse, a favored client who coincidentally owned a construction company. I saw a lot of the latter in Jedburgh, where one of the two crooked firms of lawyers in the town specialised in obtaining properties at a very cheap price for their local construction company clients, not to mention a few partners in their own firm too of course.
To make the scheme work, many of the surveyors in the Scottish Borders were involved in the operation - quite an easy thing to do in a small region like the Borders, where there is a low population, and not much movement on the property market ...and from papers I saw at the time, several surveyors actually had meetings with the lawyers to 'decide' on favorable valuations & survey details, to either put clients off properties, or reduce their value so that the client would have to settle for a lot less than the property was actually worth (a bid from a mystical buyer then purchased the property, usually after a protracted selling attempt .. and in time, that mystical buyer, turned out to be either a partner in the same legal firm, a colleague from another legal firm, or a favoured client who also owned a construction company.
I was a target of this same fiddle, where a crooked lawyer Andrew Penman of Stormonth Darling Solicitors, from Kelso had several sets of fiddled valuations done on my father's property for executry valuations at the rate of about 1 a year - and remember, crooked lawyer Drew Penman and his legal firm had my father's property in their thieving hands for 4 years.
The property was supposedly up for sale by the terms of my father's will, and was duly advertised (even in the Scotsman newspaper). Several people had the property surveyed (by the same firm which did the survey for the crooked lawyers in charge of it as an executry estate) and got basically the same survey, with a few words changed.
However it came to light there was a scam going on between the crooked lawyers, a firm of Estate agents later brought in to try and 'move' the property (in an entirely false operation, only designed to burden the estate of my dead father with more bills) and the surveyor, as every time someone tried to put a bid in, the lawyers claimed it was off the market. The interested parties then enquired to the surveyor if they knew anything (to be told the same) and I only found out about it when those prospective buyers came direct to me, informing me of what was going on - and waving their costly surveys at me, which were identical to the ones provided at huge cost each year to the crooked lawyers in charge of the executry.
Unsurprisingly, the property lay unsold from 1990 to 1998, with this scam on the go, which was continued after 1994 when Messrs Turnbull, Simpson & Sturrock WS, another crooked Borders legal firm in Jedburgh took on the 'property sale' .. same old fiddled surveys, more bills to the estate, and no intention of selling it .. and only when I brought in a third firm of lawyers, eventually being able to wrestle control of the estate from the crooked legal firms who were plundering it for their own ends, did the property move.
The Law Society of Scotland did nothing about all this as you know - hence my campaign along with many others who were similarly ripped off by crooked lawyers to bring in the Legal Profession & Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill and of course the crooked surveyors and the bent estate agent brought into the deal as a smoke screen got away with their actions too.
All this has been going on for years in the Borders, even up to the present day, where only just a few weeks ago, a family was told there was no demand for the property their deceased relative had left them .. which has now fell into the hands of a client of that same legal firm who specialises in renovating properties & selling them on ...in a deal which has been repeated many times with the same legal firm .. almost indicating there is an 'arrangement' between these two which many have alleged for years.
Yes, .. a real crooked gang down there in the Scottish Borders if ever there was one, where lawyers, some of the estate agents and the surveyors have a racket going which would rival the mafia - so anyone dealing with property in the Borders should take note of the stage managed market where all is definitely not what it seems.
As for single surveys, I'm all for it. Taking this monster of an empire away from the likes of crooked lawyers, bent surveyors out to rip off as many as possible, is certainly a good thing - and making house purchases & sales easier for the consumer, has been long overdue.
Lets cut out some of the corruption from the property equation ... it seems to work everywhere else .. so how about making it work in Scotland .. and cut out the rip offs.
However, the crooked Solicitors Property Centres & lawyers are going to attack this one with plenty fight, just as they did against the LPLA Bill,... and I'm sure we can expect to see some more revelations on the property deals of certain msps & Scottish Executive ministers, which were inadvertently leaked by a legal firm early last year over those fears of the LPLA Bill and the prospect of independent regulation coming to the legal profession - and I wrote about Scottish Executive Ministers & politicians being involved in housing fiddles long before it appeared in the press ... as you all know.
Link to the story from the Scotsman at :
Solicitors attack 'flawed' single seller survey
HAMISH MACDONELL SCOTTISH POLITICAL EDITOR (firstname.lastname@example.org)
* Minister-backed initiative opposed by solicitors group
* Policy aims to reduce buyer expense of buying multiple surveys
* Buyers will be reluctant to accept seller survey as sufficient, says forum
"It is naive to expect purchasers to accept a seller's survey as their sole guide to the value of the house. Most purchasers will want to commission their own surveys after their offers have been accepted, in order to get their own independent view on condition and value." - EDINBURGH CONVEYANCERS FORUM
Story in full SINGLE seller surveys will lead to extra, needless expense for house buyers and could depress the property market, some of Scotland's most influential solicitors will warn today.
Ministers intend to launch their final plans for single seller surveys tomorrow. But the Edinburgh Conveyancers' Forum, representing 60 top property firms in Edinburgh and the Lothians, has mounted a final, determined bid to stop the proposals, which it claims are "flawed and not necessary".
Under the Scottish Executive plans, everybody selling a house from the middle of next year will have to provide a "purchase information pack". This will include a report on the energy efficiency rating of the house being offered for sale and, controversially, a full survey of the property, commissioned and paid for by the seller.
The aim of the single seller survey is to stop potential buyers from wasting hundreds of pounds on surveys for houses they fail to buy. It is also designed to stop surveyors from making thousands of pounds producing identical surveys for different customers who want to buy the same house.
Ministers ran a series of pilot projects to test the scheme two years ago, but these were not at all successful. It had been hoped that 1,200 seller surveys would be commissioned in the trials but, in seven months, there were only 74 instructed - 65 in Glasgow, five in Inverness, three in Dundee and only one in Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh Conveyancers Forum said it will use the 12-week consultation process to try to persuade ministers to drop plans for a single seller survey. The forum said most people looking for property put in bids "subject to survey" which saves them from the expense of commissioning a survey until they have won the bidding process.
The forum also warned that house buyers would be reluctant to accept a survey prepared by the seller and most would commission their own survey before concluding missives, making the seller survey system redundant.
A spokesman for the forum warned of the effects on the housing market and the expense for purchasers who would have to pay for their own survey and cover the costs of the seller's survey.
He said: "There is a real concern that stagnation of the system caused by the seller's survey and the lack of independent advice could result in a slump in property values."
And he added: "It is naive to expect purchasers to accept a seller's survey as their sole guide to the value of the house. Most purchasers will want to commission their own surveys after their offers have been accepted, in order to get their own independent view on condition and value."
But a spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said ministers were determined to push ahead with the plan. She said the scheme had been designed to "suit the distinct circumstances of the Scottish housing market".