Government launches consultation into house buying and selling

It’s been on the news today. It’s not before time!

Some of the actions of buyers and sellers are just unacceptable and need to be stopped.

The house buying process is not only stressful for buyers and sellers, its costly. There are legal fees, survey fees and possibly finance fees that have to be paid, apart from the waste of your own time and the knock on effect on the rest of the chain.

We all know its a poor system, so its a welcome start that the government has announced it is “looking into it”. Why it has taken decades and several governments to make this announcement, I have no idea, but it is positive progress.

Estate Agent Today has posted this article to explain it.

A couple of things in this article do strike me. There is no mention of gazundering, which I feel is a far more dishonest practice. Disappointingly this also wasn’t mentioned by the “expert” on Sky TV this morning and which has subsequently been aired on radio too.
Gazundering is where a price has been agreed but when solicitors are about to exchange contracts, the buyer says they will not buy unless the price is reduced. When the seller has committed to a purchase and incurred not insubstantial costs, this is a particularly nasty negotiating tactic.

The article says theyve looked at Denmark & the US. What about Scotland? The legal system in Scotland is different to ours. In my experience of refurbishing properties up there, it is much better! However there are similarities to England & Wales. In their system once a price has been agreed and this has been confirmed in writing by the solicitors, then the sale will not fall over unless there is a clause eg subject to survey, and the survey identifies some serious problems. This system should have been introduced decades ago, and it would prevent gazumping and gazundering.Another omission from the TV interview is that estate agents by law have to forward all offers to the seller. This means that they should not be blamed for gazumping. It is not about them earning more commission because at a fee of 1.5% this is a negligible additional income. The acceptance of a higher offer is down to the seller!

I also hope that they look into the speed at which councils respond, but how they will speed up lenders and get old fashioned solicitors who don’t handle many conveyances to speed up and instigate enquiries immediately will be interesting to hear.

Well, its a start and I am very pleased, even more so because the government have for the last couple of years made some appalling and ill-judged decisions on private rented sector issues.

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