The new anti-money laundering regulations introduced this week will delay the routine buying and selling of homes, a lawyer warns - and they may cause headaches for small estate agencies.
The new regulations mean agencies now have to carry out newly-strengthened “stringent and targeted checks” on both buyers and sellers to ensure monies are not used “to fund terror acts.”
However Alex Ktorides, a partner at property law specialists Gordon Dadds, says such due diligence, combined with new powers in the Criminal Finance Act 2017, will could “slow down the buying process by up to 186 days.”
Ktorides says agents and others in the consumer sector charged with conducting the new checks “will now have to consider the characteristics of the customer, the product and its distribution and the jurisdictions involved in determining the lengths that they have to now go to in terms of conducting due diligence on their clients.”
He says this will require a steep learning curve to be ascended by agents, auctioneers and surveyors.
“This is going to create substantial challenges for the property sector especially given the final version of the directive has only been made public [yesterday] which has left no time for banks, estate agents and the lending sectors among others to update their policies and processes alongside training staff on the new regime” he says.
“Some agents have in excess of 100 branches and have received no prior time to implement the new processes in order to comply. For many smaller estate agents (and surveyors) this will be the first time they will have carried out checks on both the buyers and sellers and they are going to have to get up to speed with the regime as quickly as possible or risk facing an unannounced visit from the HM Treasury.”