Improving the home buying and selling process for the home mover and, as a result, for all stakeholders, is about delivering certainty and transparency to reduce the incumbent stress of moving home as well as ensuring the timeframe for transactions to be as short as possible. There are many constituent parts to this, all of which will individually add up to a collective improvement. It’s about getting that timeframe down and improving the certainty and transparency within whole process, particularly for consumers.
Many of the policies are not necessarily new. For example, advocating the benefits to having upfront information about a property and believing that these can be best delivered in the form of enhanced property packs and ongoing logbooks. Focusing on upfront information and continuing to liaise with a large number of stakeholders on what the property pack, ordered at the listing, should contain.
There is an issue of potential liability here should the buying consumer end up purchasing a property that does not enable their intended use and enjoyment or indeed is impacted by an issue, such as flooding or radon or contamination. Conveyancers too have to undertake the due diligence and highlight these elements if applicable, although they are able to outline their inability to provide advice on, for example, geological issues, etc, and that the buyer should get advice from an expert if relevant to them.
A pack that fills all the requirements in terms of the material facts and best prepares the property for sale to avoid delay and loss, would be very useful.
Consumer regulations require the disclosure and agents, one would think, would be keen to have the strongest possible pack of information available to hand over to potential purchasers to convert them from potential to ‘proceedable’ if the property is suitable for them – it is, after all, a waste of the agent’s time and money, as well as everyone else’s, for a buyer to have to withdraw later when they find a property is not suitable for them or their lender.
What the pack could, and should, contain?
– an EPC;
– a completed Buying & Selling Property Information (BASPI) or equivalent, for example, the NAEA PIQ and Law Society TA6;
– evidence of Title;
– in date local authority search;
– drainage and water search;
– environmental information;
– locality dependent searches;
– the instruction of a property lawyer;
– and details that the seller has been identified and their relationship to the property verified.
A pack that contains all of the above will go a long way to those who provide it meeting their responsibilities, but also for the consumer to have the required information to be able to move forward with certainty that the property is right for them.
Coupled with measures such as greater use of digital ID, we should be able to improve on a process that is currently taking over 20 weeks to complete, as they have done in other jurisdictions such as Norway where they have reduced property fraud from 1% to 0.0014% thanks to digital ID and full upfront information enabling a binding offer.
This is about empowering property professionals to work with clients to highlight the benefits this greater upfront information can bring them, to point out the cost savings available, and the greater certainty it will provide them to cut down on the risks of property sales falling through.
It will require a concerted effort from all industry stakeholders by cutting down on the time to completion and improving the certainty for the consumer.