Home buying to be made cheaper, faster and less stressful in England

The Government has pledged to make buying a home cheaper, faster and less stressful in England and has launched an eight week call for evidence where it is seeking views from the industry.

In wants to hear to hear from everyone with an interest in home buying including estate agents, solicitors and mortgage lenders and particular is aiming to address gazumping and reduce time wasting to increase commitment to a sale.

‘We want to help everyone have a good quality home they can afford, and improving the process of buying and selling is part of delivering that. Buying a home is one of life’s largest investments, so if it goes wrong it can be costly. That’s why we’re determined to take action to make the process cheaper, faster and less stressful,’ said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

‘This can help save people money and time so they can focus on what matters, finding their dream home. I want to hear from the industry on what more we can do to tackle this issue.
This announcement will build on recent proposals to cut out abuses of leasehold, protections for renters and a crackdown on unfair managing agents, now we are looking at modernising the home buying process,’ he pointed out.

‘The Housing White Paper set out plans to fix the broken housing market, getting the right homes built in the right places and measures to improve affordability and protections for renters and home purchasers,’ Javid explained.

‘This exercise isn’t about adding extra work for buyers and sellers or seeing a return to Home Information Packs, this call for evidence will look at how we can further improve the home buying experience,’ he added.

Javid said that buyers are concerned about gazumping where sellers accept a higher offer from a new buyer and this is set to be outlawed through new measures and he also wants to build trust and confidence in the housing industry.

‘Mistrust between parties is one of the biggest issues faced, we want to look at schemes including lock-in agreements. Although one million homes are bought and sold in England each year, around a quarter of sales fall through and hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted, we want to increase confidence in the housing chain,’ Javid said.

He also want to look at how better guidance for buyers and sellers can be provided, possibly by encouraging them to gather more information in advance so homes are sale ready.

Another key area will be innovation and how that is affecting the buying process. ‘You can now search for a home online, but the buying process is too slow, costing time and money so we’re looking for innovative digital solutions including making more data available online,’ Javid added.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), said it long been calling for more regulation of the estate agents sector to ensure that consumers are protected when dealing with the biggest asset most people own, their home.

‘We are delighted that Government has chosen to include further estate agents regulation in the scope of their Call for Evidence into the house buying and selling process. This is a welcome review of the process, which is currently archaic and does not reflect the twenty first century,’ he added.

Russell Quirk, chief executive officer of eMoov, said tackling gazumping should be a priority. ‘It is the scourge of the property market and a practice that is facilitated through a draconian, archaic conveyancing system which leaves large numbers of buyers extremely disappointed and out of pocket,’ he pointed out.

‘During the most stressful part of the property purchase, it further exacerbates the emotional turmoil a buyer can find themselves in and can crush their hopes and dreams of securing that perfect property,’ he explained.

‘The law needs to change to ensure there is a contractual obligation and to protect home buyers much earlier on in the process. One common misconception is that gazumping is the work of the agent in order to secure more commission on a property. However, this practice is often orchestrated by the seller and without the support or encouragement of the agent, although they take the blame,’ he added.

Looking ahead he believes that the industry needs to encourage eConveyancing and to ensure that all documentation is in one place and digitally accessible quickly and at the same time across multiple parties.

‘We must ensure that surveyors, local authorities and lenders are legally compelled to work faster and for the buyer not against them, allow electronic signatures to be used within the process to speed the back and forth and introduce title insurance as they do in the USA as a catch all,’ Quirk added.