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All change? Industry to be asked how to shake-up house buying

The government is staying tight-lipped about it for the moment but there may be a major shake-up in house buying on the cards - with the industry and public asked to contribute.

The Daily Telegraph says a ‘secret meeting’ has been held between government representatives at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and the National Association of Estate Agents - one of the items on the agenda was a possible move to make house buying in England and Wales more like that in Scotland. 

The government was reportedly keen on making property sales legally binding at the time an offer is accepted - thus avoiding gazumping - rather than later at contract exchange. It is not known whether the Scottish-style Home Report system was also discussed.


Now it appears likely that there will be a "call for evidence" into how the government could make it quicker and cheaper to buy homes in England and Wales, which BIS will launch before the end of May. 

This is in line with a commitment made by the government during the Budget in March, and previous broad intentions made by the Department of Communities and Local Government and BIS to bring more new technology into the buying process, and to reduce the chance of consumers losing money during purchases.

Consumers currently spend £270m a year on failed housing transactions, according to figures from the Treasury.

Any firm proposals for change are unlikely to appear until well into 2017, and they will then be subject to further specific consultation.

Mark Hayward, managing director at the National Association of Estate Agents, is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as describing the English and Welsh buying process as “archaic” and needing reform “to allow for as much work to be done before the point of offer as possible."

The government is making no official comment until the call for evidence is made.

  • Rob Hailstone

    A lot of time is wasted (in a legal sense) whilst a property is being marketed. That time could be used to collect and compile legal information etc. When a buyer is then found exchange could be much sooner. All we need is a name for that product and process. Any ideas?

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    Every time, every time, they touch the industry, they get it wrong. Far more important issues that the Govt ministers should be spending their tax payers salaries on running the UK and solving.

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    Bring back HIPS, massive error to abolish them, BUT, they should ONLY be prepared by a solicitor firm, stamped as such, and with the official (not regulated) Council search, and always sellers property information forms. AND a new Part II where the solicitor confirms they have read the TA6 and includes missing documents, suggestions for solving obvious legal issues on title.

    HIPS were ruined by profiteering Agents and, volume conveyancers.

    Of all the conveyancing organisations out there, only one worth liaising with - The Bold Group.

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    That the system needs substantially changing it not in dispute by anyone, but this time lets get it right.

    The John Prescott ''reforms'' (Including the defunct HIPS) were a complete disaster and only added to the complexity.

    I dont exactly know how ''the Scottish system works'' and we must not presume that is ''the best'' - we should look at that and all schemes and explore technology and end up with a ''rolls royce''

    of course we can do it! we invented much of the modern world!

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    I just noticed this on a 'Scottish' web-site:

    (mandatory as part of a pre-sale home pack) ''The Single Survey is a detailed survey of your home conducted by a qualified surveyor. It will also provide an estimate of market value.''

    Same old question arises here: ''How does a valuer from 10 miles outside London, have the first idea of how much a property is worth.......especially when they will choose a ''comparable property'' 2 miles away!''

    We dont want this - please! (with all due respect to Valuers)

  • Trevor Mealham

    Would that be the same Mark Hayward who sits on AM that doesn't support online only agents into a portal he has tried to help mainstream?

    Should such NAEA reps be talking behind closed doors when one hat excludes an agent type, whilst his other hat supports online only agents via NAEA membership?

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    @Trevor Mealham

    Why not? Portals are not the only things that matter in the property profession.
    What is your opinion (unbiased for a change) on this particular item?

  • Terence Dicks

    Parts of the Scottish system are good, but there are also (like ours) bad parts also. The best part of course is that unless they have a REALLY good reason when a purchaser says they are going to purchase a property, they ARE going to purchase it. No "change of mind" allowed.

  • Richard Copus

    Forget the Scottish system. Scotland has a completely different legal system with separate roots from English Common Law. Most Australian states and US states and others practicising English Law or with English Law roots have amended the LPA to enable much swifter exchange of contracts and those are the routes we could go down much more easily with a minimum of legislation.

  • David Bennett

    Totally agree with TH. Bring back HIPs, prepared by a conveyancer, who will finish off the job, once a buyer is found.


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