Estate Agent Today understands that the civil servant who has been at the heart of plans to reform the house buying process is moving from his current role at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Matt Prior, the lead officer in the reform process for several years, will instead be working on leasehold issues rather than changes to house buying and selling.
Although a behind-the-scenes figure, Prior was central to many of the proposals which lie at the heart of the reforms.
He spoke publicly at events held by Propertymark, The Guild of Property Professionals, an ESTAS Legal conference and many other bodies.
Since 2018 Prior was a member of the Home Buying And Selling Group, considering proposals for reform and consisting of agents, property lawyers, mortgage lenders and representatives of organisations such as Land Registry, the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, Conveyancing Association, Bold Legal Group, the Residential Property Surveyors Association, Northwoods, The Property Ombudsman, Rightmove, and the Building Societies Association.
Prior led research which looked at options for the future of referral fees and focus groups on public attitudes to property transactions, and in 2019 notably told an industry event that when it comes to selling ”very few people embark on the process with any happiness.”
In the same year he announced that trials of reservation agreements were to be held in early 2020 - some did take place but a more comprehensive programme was deferred because of the pandemic.
There has been a slowdown on the progress of reforms during the pandemic although the Home Buying And Selling Group has met and progressed some individual elements such as the BASPI - the document containing Buying and Selling Property Information.
Prior will be working on leasehold and commonhold issues; an internal document sent to members of the Home Buying and Selling Group names two DLUHC officers working on reforms “in the interim”.
The work which was undertaken by Prior was separate to the issues surrounding the Regulation of Property Agents, another initiative which appears to have run into the ground in recent years.