First details have emerged of the information vendors may have to provide up-front In future transactions if government house buying reforms are implemented - and they are nothing less than a revolution in how property details are prepared.
Beth Rudolf, a leading member of the industry-wide Home Buying and Selling Group, has revealed the information to a conveyancers’ conference called Bold Legal LIVE! held in conjunctions with the ESTAS Conveyancers’ Awards.
The Home Buying and Selling Group has existed for the past 18 months.
It includes agents, property lawyers, mortgage lenders and representatives of organisations including the NAEA, ARLA, HM Land Registry, the Law Society, The Property Ombudsman, Rightmove, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Bold Legal Group and the Building Societies Association.
The government’s call for up-front information should be seen hand-in-hand with other reforms, including the introduction of reservation agreements; the government has made it clear that it wants the current 20-week average between a home being marketed and a buyer moving in, reduced to between six and eight weeks.
There have been no firm decisions yet by housing minister Esther McVey but the HBSG ideas are being fed into the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government and are considered highly influential in forming future reforms of the buying process.
Rudolf told conveyancers that the HBSG was seeking to create a system where there was “one source of truth” about a property - whether that came from the seller, estate agent, seller’s conveyancer or independent valuer.
The “truth” should be in the form of a document currently under the working title of a BASPI - Buying and Selling Property Information. This document would be:
- completed at the point of property marketing;
- accessible prior to any buyer making an offer;
- accessible to lenders who may be able to pre-authorise lending on a property;
- sent to all parties with the memorandum of sale; and
- reviewed by a valuer prior to valuation.
There would be 12 key areas of information which a seller or their representatives may be expected to complete prior to marketing:
- property to be sold;
- disputes and complaints;
- alterations and changes to property;
- notices which affect the property;
- specialist issues;
- fixtures and fittings;
- right and informal arrangements;
- other issues affecting the property;
- additional information.
There would also be additional questions relating to leasehold properties.
As this information would be compiled prior to marketing, a summary of it would appear on property descriptions on agents’ websites and portals.
Rudolf told the conveyancers that work was still in progress on many of the details, and further research was being commissioned into parts of the BASPI document.
Rudolf and the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government have stressed that this is not yet policy, but the MHCLG’s lead officer on improving the house buying process - Matt Prior - says that when the Home Buying and Selling Group’s proposals have been finalised they will be considered by the MHCLG and be put to appropriate housing ministers for final decisions.