Rightmove and Zoopla have been working with key figures from government and the agency and conveyancing industries on how to reform house buying.
And it appears that data which agents supply to all major portals may be the foundation of major reforms to the house buying process being considered by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and its partners.
Estate Agent Today has already reported extensively on a body called the Home Buying and Selling Group, which has been meeting for almost two years to consider how greater upfront information can be supplied to potential buyers by sellers.
This is likely to be through something called a BASPI - Buying and Selling Property Information - which would replace the current TA6 Property Information Form and would be completed at the point of property marketing, and be accessible to potential buyers and mortgage companies which may be able to pre-authorise lending on a property.
Critically, it now appears that much of the ‘core’ information on the BASPI - details of disputes and complaints; alternations; fixtures and fittings; insurance; rights and informal arrangements; and tenure issues, for example - may in the long term be carried by the portals, and so be available to prospective purchasers.
The Home Buying and Selling Group includes agents, property lawyers, mortgage lenders and trade bodies including the NAEA, ARLA, the Law Society and so on; but it’s now known that the ideas have been discussed with digital delivery platforms including Rightmove and Zoopla, as well as Reapit.
Key, it appears, is getting a PropTech data standard that means the systems used by agents, portals, conveyancers, surveyors and HM Land Registry can all talk to each other.
A representative of the Home Buying and Selling Group - Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association - told the Council of Licensed Conveyancers’ conference in London yesterday: “Let’s face it, it’s the portals where the overwhelming majority of buyer enquiries start. If the portals can carry essential information it’s available to potential buyers before they even visit a property or get a brochure.”
The HBSG is aiming to reform the house-buying process so that the current 20-week average between a home being marketed and a buyer moving in, is reduced to between six and eight weeks.
HSBG recommendations are passed on to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government which is working to long-standing government aims to simplify and make more transparent the house buying system; currently, MHCLG claims some 30 per cent of house sales collapse, often costing buyers or sellers or both some thousands of pounds.
The provision of upfront information is closely linked to the MHCLG pilot project on Reservation Agreements; at the same conference yesterday, Matt Prior - lead officer at the department on house buying reform - said the government was awaiting a report on how best to conduct the pilot.
It is likely to begin in the next three months.