The government has launched a consultation this weekend calling for evidence on how to make the home buying process “cheaper, faster and less stressful for those involved.”
In a surprise announcement this morning, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he wants to hear from everyone with an interest in home buying including estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders.
“We want to ensure that we address issues across the whole sector, from ways to tackle gazumping and reduce time wasting to increase commitment to a sale” he says.
The call for evidence will run for eight weeks from today, Sunday October 22, so will close shortly before Christmas.
Views will be taken on:
Gazumping: “Buyers are concerned about gazumping, with sellers accepting a higher offer from a new buyer, we will look at ways this could be tackled” says Javid;
Building trust and confidence: He says: “Mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced, we want to look at schemes including ‘lock-in agreements’. Although one million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted, we want to increase confidence in the housing chain”;
Informing customers: “How to provide better guidance for buyers and sellers, by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are ‘sale ready’”;
Innovation: “You can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so we’re looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online.”
Javid says: “We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that. Buying a home is one of life’s largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That’s why we’re determined to take action to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful.
“This can help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters – finding their dream home. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue.”
The government says that today’s announcement will “build on recent proposals” such as seeking to remove abuses of leasehold, protections for renters and a crackdown on unfair managing agents. “Now we are looking at modernising the home buying process” it says.
However, mindful of publicity during the General Election campaign when Michael Gove hinted at a return of Labour’s controversial Home Information Packs, the government’s statement this morning says: “This exercise isn’t about adding extra work for buyers and sellers or seeing a return to Home Information Packs; this call for evidence will look at how we can further improve the home buying experience.”
The government has looked in particular at the house selling and buying processes in Denmark and the US.
It has also undertaken research amongst 2,000 people who have bought or sold a home recently.
Some of the key issues thrown up by this research are:
– Of those that experienced delays, 69 per cent of sellers and 62 per cent of buyers reported stress and worry as a result of the delay;
– Some 46 per cent of sellers had concerns about a buyer changing their mind after making an offer;
– 24 per cent of sellers say they would use a different estate agent if they were to go through the process again; and
– 32 per cent of sellers and 28 per cent of buyers were dissatisfied with the other party’s solicitor.