One of the country’s leading conveyancing chiefs has given his support to reforms to the house buying process.
But Rob Hailstone - chief executive of the Bold Legal Group, a network of over 650 High Street law firms - insists that proposals must be thoroughly tested before introduction.
In an interview for Estate Agent Today, Hailstone gives broad support for reservation agreements which are currently being considered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
A model two page reservation agreement has been drawn up by a law firm as a possible way of reducing fall throughs and speeding up transactions.
Hailstone backs the idea in principle, saying: "Anything that can help improve the process has to be welcomed. However, it is important that the planned trial is thorough and meaningful. The last thing we want is an agreement that is not accepted widely and causes more issues than it solves.”
He adds: “One problem is that even if it is good, but not mandated its use might be random, and random probably won’t cut it. Never has the phrase, ‘the devil will be in the detail’ been more relevant.”
Hailstone also uses the interview to express general support for the idea of a Property Logbook - another measure under consideration by the government - and feels there is a strong case for the creation of a pre-sale pack to avoid duplication, reduce abortive costs by sellers and buyers, and to ease the currently stressful transaction process.
“It makes perfect sense for a property lawyer to get all of the sale documentation and information together whilst a property is being marketed. I think, over the next year or so, we will see more property lawyers working closely with estate agents in order to produce some kind of seller’s pack.
“Couple that with the introduction of a Property Logbook (maybe the Property Logbook could become the seller’s pack?), which the government appears to be supportive of, and you will see fall through number and exchange times fall” he suggests.
Hailstone also advocates a cap on referral fees - another area where government action is likely in the near future - and making it obligatory for parties to make it clear to buyers and sellers how much of their charges are for referral and how much for the actual service.
The full interview can be seen in the Property Natter series, conducted by Angels Media chief executive Nat Daniels. You can find it here.