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Agent launches petition for radical overhaul of house buying process

An online petition has been started by an independent estate agent seeking a radical overhaul of how homes are sold in order to reduce fall-throughs. 

Sarka Wilde, founder of Distinct Property Consultants in Chipping Norton and Banbury, says in her petition that sellers’ wellbeing and finances are both adversely affected by the uncertainty built in to the current way of transacting property.

“I decided to write this petition after many conversations with clients over years … and a recent experience where the seller is absolutely distraught when the buyer pulled out at the eleventh hour for no apparent reason.


“I believe this is the most unfair legislative process of the English law with regard to the sale of property. I find it absolutely unbelievable how vulnerable sellers of property are, due to the lack of a secure sale. There are stories of many people’s lives being shattered when the buyer decides to terminate the agreement for no apparent reason.”

In addition, she says it’s commonly the case that because of the high level of fall-throughs, estate agents effectively work for nothing on a number of deals that do not reach completion.

“A good agent spends hours and hours negotiating and progressing a sale for their client and when the sale does not complete, this agent goes home hungry. Meaning they do not get paid, as commission is paid only on successful completion. This effects profitability of the business and ability to offer employment, creating a vicious circle where there is no winner” she states on her petition, which has been posted on the Change.Org website.

Instead, Wilde advocates the adoption of a Scottish-style system, where a much higher volume of information is prepared up-front to give the buyer the maximum data on which to make - and stick with - a decision to purchase.

In that system “once the buyer commits they have to stay committed or are subjected to a penalty. That means we get all the legal paperwork ready before a property goes on the market. We are transparent. We are honest, People know what they are buying, there are no nasty surprises” claims Wilde. 

She calls for a 14 day preliminary offer period, during which some legal paperwork could be sorted. “During that period the property would be still on the open market unless the buyer is ready to close (confirm the offer legally) earlier” she suggests.

The petition - which has so far received only minimal publicity in the industry press - will ultimately go to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick. 

You can see the petition here.

  • Rob Hailstone

    "That means we get all the legal paperwork ready before a property goes on the market. " I would suggest, we get all the legal paperwork ready whilst a property is on the market.

  • icon

    Australian and New Zealand systems work.
    Conditional offer smart agents make it as tight they can.
    Becomes unconditional done deal

  • Daniel Hamilton-Charlton

    Never sure why agents feel that it takes a petition to drive change. If an agent really wants to change or create a better process for their clients there are solutions and supportive companies already championing a new model. Why not simply change, be different, be better, win a bigger market share and deliver a solution, rather than petition for change?
    The option to lead by example has always been available and we, for one, are all for it. Get Legally Prepared dot co dot uk is just one way that we can help agents who wish to be better.

    Dharmesh Mistry

    Totally agree, but I guess the question is whether things will change with the work being done by the Home Buying/Selling Group... though we could be waiting some time ;o)

  • icon

    Successive governments are to blame for the current challenges and so it is over-simplistic to imagine that buying and selling dwellings is like selling baked beans.

    The government has recently tightened up again AML procedures, you have the cladding scandal and there are tens of thousands of unsellable flats. Don't get me started on new builds. I had a package of documents recently, which comprised several hundred pages of documentation and it was riddled with traps for the unwary.

    Go into an alliance with lawyers and together we can effect positive changes.

    Going on a fantastic voyage ultimately will lead all the professionals engaged in the sector nowhere.


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