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By Graham Norwood

Editor, EAT and LAT

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Boris and the house moving process - O Lucky Man!

There are many adjectives that can be applied to Boris Johnson, probably very few of them complimentary, but there’s one that is undoubtedly true: ‘Lucky’.

His timing is exquisite and, so far at least, it has allowed him to take credit for initiatives that in fairness belong to others.

As Mayor of London his so-called Boris Bikes - generally considered a hit, not least to those with Green tendencies - were actually the brainchild of his Labour predecessor, Ken Livingstone, who came up with the idea in 2007 and launched the proposal in 2008, a few weeks before losing the London election to Johnson.

Then there were the 2012 London Olympics, widely seen as a success, and taking place during Johnson’s time at City Hall: he made substantial capital, especially at a handover pageant at the end of the Games when he passed the flag to his Chinese counterpart. In reality, the application for London’s bid was made by Livingstone back in 2005.

Such is the stuff of politics, and there are plenty of examples of how Labour politicians have benefitted from inheriting the hard work of their Conservative predecessors.

But it seems that Johnson might be doing it again - picking up the kudos, if that’s what it is, for reform of the house buying process.

Here’s the chronology...

The Home Information Pack - roundly criticised by the estate agency industry when it was introduced by a Labour government in 2007 - was abandoned by the David Camer-on/Nick Clegg coalition administration in 2010.

The coalition didn’t waste time: the general election was fought on May 6, the commit-ment to scrap HIPs announced on May 12, and the first home sold without the need for one was exchanged on May 20.

Since then (so yes, for the past nine years) what is now the Ministry of Housing, Com-munities and Local Government has been working on proposals of one kind or another to make the house buying process simpler, faster and more transparent.

This is now coming to fruition after a series of discussions, most recently through a body called the Home Buying and Selling Group which was formed in early 2018 and has been central behind initiatives like Reservation Agreements and a new HIPs-like ap-proach to up-front information in the form of a Buying and Selling Property Information document or BASPI.

In parallel, initiatives have been undertaken to improve the authority and professionalism of estate agents - most obviously through the recommendations published a few months ago by the Regulation of Property Agents working group.

An interesting aspect about both the Reservation Agreements and the BASPI is that they are now going to various forms of trials: there will no doubt be substantial tweaks but, un-like the era 15 years ago when HIPs were mooted, these reforms have won substantial in-principle support from estate agents and conveyancers. The industry is well on side.

It’s probable that it will take two years still for RAs and BASPIs to come to fruition.

By a happy coincidence - or perhaps not such a coincidence - that two years takes us to precisely the time that Lord Best, chair of the RoPA working group, believes his recom-mendations will come into effect.

All of which means that in late 2021 of thereabouts there will be a revolution happening in the estate agency world.

A new process for house buying will be introduced, just as agents will themselves have to be better qualified than ever before. And it’s likely that just like London’s Bikes and the Olympics, these reforms will prove exceedingly popular with the general public.

Of course, there may be a General Election in the near future and in theory by late 2021 Jeremy Corbyn could have been Prime Minister for two years …. but I wouldn’t bet on it.

In which case it will be Boris Johnson - whose contribution to estate agency and buying process reform has been, ahem, minimal - who will take the credit for the changes.

In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything.

*Editor of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today, Graham can be found tweeting all things property @PropertyJourn

  • Phil Priest

    With HIPS there were specific documents required for marketing a property.

    Will reservation fee's open up the market for rogue agents to start making more money by asking for more than specified or adding on lots of other charges?

    The No.1 reason we have such a poor completion rate is speed, not commitment. RA's could actually make it even slower..

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