A new campaign is being launched aimed at shaking up the way residential property is bought and sold.
Home owners would be required to have surveys done on their property before putting them up for sale, and make them available to prospective purchasers, while agents could be among those forced to pay damages if they drag their heels.
The Get A Move On campaign is calling for the introduction of a legally binding contract within a week of an offer being accepted, committing both buyer and seller to the contract, and a fixed timeframe of no more than six weeks for the deal to be completed.
The campaign also wants to see survey fees standardised across the country.
The campaign is launched by online agent Russell Quirk, of eMoov. He said changes were long overdue, with the way property is bought and sold having remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.
He said that the way solicitors need to send documents manually back and forth makes the process cumbersome, and that this, combined with local authorities combing archives to establish the history of ownership, and lengthy property surveys, means that the entire process is too protracted, taking an average of ten weeks to exchange contracts.
Quirk says local authorities and solicitors as well as agents should be required to pay damages for maladministration should they slow up the transaction.
It is estimated that one in three property purchases fall through, at an estimated waste of £800m.
Quirk said: “The aim of the campaign is to ensure that both the buyer and the seller are better protected and to reduce the stress of buying a home so that more people can take confident steps on the property ladder.
“We believe that the current system is antiquated and that a few simple legislative changes will hugely improve the process, saving consumers money, time and emotional stress. After hundreds of years, the time has come for change.”
He told Estate Agent Today that lenders and valuers are today’s major cause of delays.
He said: “Maybe with the advance of technology, surveys will be a thing of the past, given automated valuation models. Maybe surveyors could recruit more people.
“It’s not a difficult job, after all, given that every valuation survey results in the surveyor calling a plethora of estate agents for ‘comparables’ in any case.
“Lenders MUST be subject to legislation to ensure that they process offers quicker.
“The entire industry needs to be shaken up and despite there being some logistical issues as per ‘this is the way it has always been done’, the process has to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and improved.
“Change is needed and inevitable, unless the forces of apathy hold such an improvement back. We don’t ride horses to work any more, after all.”