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Property Natter - I feel the need. The need for speed-ier house purchases

It was actor Charlies Sheen who said: ‘I have one speed. I have one gear. Go!’

The same might not be said about the time it takes to complete the purchase of a house in Britain.

According to Zoopla, on average it takes around 25 weeks to sell a home but the process can drag on as long as 34 weeks.


We all know the reasons why: delays with searches, mortgage application hiccups, poor communication…..the list goes on.

And we also know that there are moves afoot to speed up the conveyancing process with more comprehensive upfront information.

So it was interesting to see this week that there were two missives floating around the newsroom claiming PropTech solutions could help propel house transaction into comparative overdrive.

Our friends at OneDome announced the launch of their Conveyancing Premium Express Service. This, they say, has an award-winning property transaction management platform at its core but adds a team of property moving assistants to project manage the transactions.

OneDome claims that in a year-long trial they achieved an average transaction time of 7.1 weeks compared to the national average of 15.6 weeks.

 Sales progression tool ViewMyChain has been rolled out in the Connells core network and says it has cut time to complete by 17 days. There are plans in hand to extend the service throughout Connells Group including Countrywide and Sequence.

Executive Director, Paul Halliwell said: “No-one wins through fall-throughs, uncertainty, delays and unhappy clients. The reduction in time to completion has meant that Connells can collect income faster and reduce fall-throughs.”

And so say all of us. Perhaps data-driven solutions and digital services can put an end to transaction bottlenecks and fall-throughs that have frustrated us for years.

When Autumn taxes start to fall

This very problem did not go unnoticed in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week. Buried deep in the detailed red tape which accompanied his speech was a measure to improve the home buying process. It wasn’t much - £3m to develop PropTech products and to digitise local council property data.

The cash won’t go very far, of course, but at least the allocation of even meagre resources is an acknowledgement that this is a problem for the sector. Please sir…..can we have some more!

Other specific measures relating to planning and construction might help down the line and are broadly to be welcomed but there wasn’t much for the here and now.

The Mortgage Guarantee Scheme was extended but there was no reinvention of Help To Buy. The much-fancied cuts in SDLT and IHT didn’t materialize and, apart from the boost to the Local Housing Allowance, there wasn’t much for the PRS either.

That said, the market has proved to be much more resilient than expected in 2023, inflation is coming under control and the NI cuts will put money into people’s pockets.

Jeremy Hunt wants us to believe that the mere fact that he can even announce tax cuts is an indication that the economy has turned a corner. He may be right. Let’s hope so.

Included among his ‘growth’ measures was the permanent extension of ‘full expensing’ – this will help larger agents with investment – particularly in technology. And the continuing freeze in business rates may help local High Street agents – although they may be hit by the extra costs of the minimum wage hike. A clear case of giving with the left and taking with the right.

It’s prime time!

Elsewhere in Estate Agent Today, buying agent Jason Corbett offers an insight into what the super-rich are looking for when they go house hunting. But this week, Tom Bill of Knight Frank, reported weak sentiment around London prime post codes.

Interestingly, he points out that activity in prime Central and Outer London in October was similar to the same month last year when the economy was reeling from the Truss/Kwarteng mini-budget.

The number of new prospective buyers registering in London was only 1.2% higher, exchanges were 2.2% higher and the number of viewings was 1.4% lower. However a rise in the supply of higher-value lettings properties demonstrated how some potential sellers decided to let their properties instead – holding fire on listing to sell. The number of homes offered to rent at over a grand a week was 22% higher than October 2022.

But if Knight Frank’s latest Outlook is anything to go by, we may be in for a brighter New Year than previously thought. They point out the that mortgage rates are falling and they are not necessarily closely tied to the Bank of England Base Rate. The five-year swap rate is lower than the Base Rate right now and they say there is a general consensus that borrowing costs will continue to drop. This is likely to make a big difference to potential buyers. A Spring bump? That would be nice!

Until next time


If you have something you’d like me to Natter about, please write to Press@angelsmedia.co.uk


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