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Alder King estate agents and The Countrywide Group

The Shepton Mallet branch

It’s a good job I’ve left it 7 months to calm down to write this review, or I’d probably find myself with a law suit on my hands. I can’t tell you how furious I’ve been with those people in that office! I haven’t had to deal with estate agents before and I had assumed their reputation was from a few people giving them a bad name. Well, I mentioned a lot of bad names while I was trying to buy this house through them. Seriously, I would not recommend you use Alder King in Shepton Mallet if you are planning on selling your house, and here’s why:

For a start, after seeing this house on Rightmove, I phoned to ask to make an appointment and seriously, one of the first things she said was, “You do realise it’s on a busy main road, don’t you?”  !!!!! When I said I still wanted to see it, she honestly sounded annoyed with me. Fine, I can understand it if you’re constantly showing people round and they all say it would be lovely if it wasn’t for the main road, but this house had been on the market altogether for a year and a half – you’d think they’d be pleased someone wanted to see it!

The person who showed us around was nice enough, but told us the catchment secondary school was Crispin (with a very good reputation) not the actual Whitstone School (NOT with a very good repuation), but at least she was doing her job in trying to sell us the house! The details of the house that they send out just didn’t sell the house at all; we very nearly didn’t bother going to see it and was last in our list of all the houses we’d made appointments for that day. The main thing they should have mentioned was the age of the house. It actually dates from 1640 – to my mind a major selling point, but from the photos it could have been a newly built stone clad house. There were no interior photos at all – suggesting it was awful inside, but it was absolutely fine apart from the woodchip and dated appearance in some of the rooms. Also it desperately needed a floorplan to work out how there was an attached cottage and attached flat – reading the description didn’t make sense at all. The basement shouldn’t have been described as a flat either because it didn’t meet fire escape regulations to be rented as such. The dining room was simply missed out in the list of rooms, as was the store/utility room! The potential of knocking through (as we have done) should have been explained as well. There could have been more emphasis on the uninterrupted views and a mention of the highly regarded primary school it’s in the catchment for. It’s just bizarre, after reading between the lines of the high praise of the others houses we’d been to see, we’d really assumed this one would be pretty bad.

After our second appointment, we followed the agent back to the office where we spoke to Claire, the mortgage advisor from the Countrywide Group. She said we’d have no problem getting a mortgage for the amount we needed and from there on in, we had nothing but problems. You think it would be in an estate agents interest to know the business of buying and selling houses, but we had to explain to them how shared ownership with housing associations work, and how selling with them works (to be fair, I’ve been amazed at how many estate agents didn’t even know it existed), so when it came to making our offer, they couldn’t explain very well themselves the advantageous situation we were in.

They told us someone else was very interested in the house, and if this were true, I was honestly suspicious that the people in the office were relatives of that person – they seemed to continue trying to thwart us in our purchase of the house. The first offer was refused, but after we’d sorted out the sale of our own house, he was ready to hear us again. You’d think they’d be keen to pass on the offer to the owner, but it didn’t seem so. The next day I phoned to see if there had been a response, but not yet. So I phoned again the next day and talked the senior person for the office who found out the offer was left with the daughter to give the owner the message, who hadn’t received it. You’d think someone would have called back to check? It took a whole week to get an offer accepted, when really it could have been done in one day.

And after that the problems just got worse. Mostly they were to do with Claire from Countrywide. The others in the Alder King office literally ran out of excuses why she wasn’t there – and they didn’t tell each other the excuse of the day because one morning I’d be told she was at a meeting, and in the afternoon I’d be told she was ill. In the end they just said she wasn’t there and didn’t bother with a reason. It ended with ‘she doesn’t work here any more.’ There were complications with the mortgage because my husband had been self employed, but Abbey refused to speek to me directly. Ridiculous! There were 6 weeks of unnecessary mortgage delays because of the incompetence of the mortgage advisor. I’d even spoken to her superiors, who should have realised she wasn’t doing her job a lot sooner.

Meanwhile the others in the office were of no help. The owner of this house had paid them an extra £1000 because he wanted to be kept completely up to date on all news; when we’d sold our house etc, but it turned out they didn’t even tell him that! When we exchanged phone numbers between us, things got far simpler and I hope he got his money back.

So you have my experiences with them and the previous owners were not happy either. I’m rather annoyed that they seem to be surviving the credit crunch and are still there!

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